A Toronto police constable whose scolding of a G20 protester for blowing bubbles went viral on YouTube has launched a $1.2 million defamation lawsuit against the website and 25 of its users.
The lawsuit by Adam Josephs, infamously known as “Officer Bubbles,” isn’t targeting the original video but a collection of eight cartoons posted to the popular video website that show a policeman resembling Josephs who engages in abusive acts of power.
The cartoons depict an officer named “A. Josephs” arresting a variety of people — from a doctor to Santa Claus to U.S. President Barack Obama — as well as punching a news photographer.
In his statement of claim, Josephs calls the cartoons and several comments “devastatingly defamatory,” alleging they have brought him “ridicule, scandal and contempt both personally and as a member of the (Toronto Police Service).”
He claims the animations have also resulted in threats against him and his family.
The lawsuit aims to compel YouTube to reveal the identities of the person who created and posted the videos — who has to username ThePMOCanada — as well as the identities of 24 other users who made allegedly defamatory remarks.
The cartoons have since vanished from the site and about half of the 25 users being sued have deleted their accounts.
Earlier this month, several of them received notices from Google, the owner of YouTube, asking whether they wanted the website to release their identities.
The original video of Const. Josephs became a symbol for what many viewed as the police’s heavy-handed response to protests during the summit, prompting a mass protest outside Queen’s Park where demonstrators blew bubbles.
In the video, the 52 Division officer holds a police line near Queen St. W. as a young woman blows bubbles.
“You touch me with that bubble you're going into custody,” he tells the woman.
“You want to bait the police. You get that on me or that other officer and it gets in her eyes, it's a detergent. You'll be going into custody.”
When the woman tells Josephs she doesn’t feel he’s respecting her, he replies: “That's terrible. My heart bleeds.”