"It's no fun to protest on an empty stomach." ~ Michael Bloomberg
It wasn’t quite the March on Washington in the sixties, or even the Rodney king riots, in fact it was a lot of random stupidness by a bunch of morons.
Trashing Starbucks locations, burning police cars – this activity only created one thing: an embarrassed city. Watching police in riot gear (tear gas masks at the ready) marching four deep towards the protesters and rhythmically rapping on their shields with their Billy clubs recalled those foreign news clips you see on the BBC news, images you never figured you’d see in these parts. People dressed in black masks smashed out windows and beat on police cruisers with bats. I failed to see the connection between the legitimate protesters and these thugs who were protesting nothing.
150 arrests; G20 leaders locked down. Embarrassing.
Walking the perimeter of the G20 zone this morning, I felt a kind of strange oppression I’ve never quite experienced before; there were armed police on every corner, in packs of ten or twenty, staring us down (although a lot of them were open to chatting, which was cool) and once down to the barricades we were stopped and told we couldn’t go any further, yet we were allowed to walk along it. On the other side of the barricades cops stared intently at passersby, sitting in groups or leaning against police cruisers. From our position across the street, we asked one officer if we could approach the fence for a picture.
“Right there is fine.” He said.
We even stopped to chat with groups of officers, who appeared quite amiable. Although one man, apparently homeless, approached an officer – they talked briefly. But a mistake on the man’s part; he was asking too many questions for the officers liking.
“Why are you asking so many questions, sir? May I see your ID?” He kept repeating.
I also never failed to notice all the snipers positioned on the rooftops.
A lot of building security guards were pulling double duty, checking the shrubbery for weapons caches and suspicious packages.
I have never seen my city in this state.
And of course, having our civil liberties temporarily revoked as a result:
Without the public's knowledge, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair requested and received new sweeping police powers for the duration of the Summit (June 24 - June 28, 2010). The new police powers were granted by the Ontario Legislature under the Ontario's Public Works Protection Act and were not debated in the Legislature.
This information came to light after the arrest of the amazing activist Dave Vasey and was featured in an exclusive by the Toronto Star.
"Vasey was held under the Public Works Protection Act and charged with refusing to comply with a request of a peace officer. His bail lawyer, Howard Morton, said that, as far as he knows, Vasey is the first to be arrested under the new regulation."
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
-- According to the new regulation, "guards" appointed under the act can arrest anyone who, in specific areas, comes within five metres of the security zone.
--Within those areas, police can demand identification from anyone coming within five metres of the fence perimeter and search them. If they refuse, they face arrest. Anyone convicted under the regulation could also face up to two months in jail or a $500 maximum fine.
So is this worth it? To have world leaders congregate in a congested and highly populated area like downtown Toronto, where you KNOW people will protest? Where you KNOW exist idiots who will dress in black masks and destroy coffee shops and throw bottles at police horses?
These thugs merely justified the billions spent on security.
Let’s be fair here; most of the protesters were there for legitimate reasons; to have their voices heard. There are always a few bad apples in the bunch. Thus will it always be. But now I’m red-faced because the world is watching this crap go on.
“I thought Canadians were peaceful” an American tourist said to me today.
We used to be.
Welcome to our ever-changing world.
- David Hunter writes for the National Affairs Desk and can be found at the Writer's Den, or on Twitter as @TheWritersDen
Images of the G20 Riots in Toronto, June 26, 2010