The G20

   27 June 2010, late afternoon

So, who thought that would be a good idea? I’ll be glad to see the politicians out of the city, and the pillars of police off our streets. It sounds like things were particularly ugly over the weekend. No doubt loops of video of the burning police cars will be shown on television again and again, but the image that most sticks out in my mind is the following: protesters singing Oh Canada in front of riot cops, before the cops go mental on them. That is pretty fucked up. Here is a photo of protestors pinned in by cops at Queen and Spadina. A scene like that seems completely out of place in Toronto. This doesn’t seem like the best way to deal with an angry protester. Yesterday police response to people breaking shit seemed fairly restrained, all things considered. Today, it seems like they’ve gone off the rails. I suspect having so many out of town cops in the city is a big issue. The more sinister issue for me are the arrests of activists before they even make it to a protest. I’d like to think we live in a country where cops can’t snatch you up before you even get the chance to do something wrong. And then there are the arrests of journalists reporting on the actions of the police. This whole weekend has been a giant disaster, as far as I can tell. It’s also a completely artificial problem. Everyone knew something like this would basically happen. The Conservative government of Canada needs to get their asses kicked.

 

Comments

  1. On Friday people had mentioned that you couldn’t get in to Allen Gardens for a protest without being searched. There is video on YouTube of a mouthy protestor arguing with the cops about how such searches are illegal. The cops look pretty tired. They also don’t seem to think what they are doing is that big a deal.

  2. I didn’t write that Ramanan. 8o|

  3. This is what happens when you log in as me to comment on my site and then click that remember-me button. Just saying.

    There is some retweet this is you want Bill Blair to resign thing going around Twitter. Do people realize how awesome Blair is? Can you imagine how things this weekend would have gone down if we had Fantino has chief again. I swear the cops would have started busting heads on Friday, and not stopped till Midnight on Sunday. Why would you want to get rid of the first reasonable police chief the city has had in as long as I can remember. (I’m not that old, I guess.) I missed his interview this morning. I’ll have to hear what his take on the weekend is.

    The police apparently arrested more people this weekend (over 600) than were arrested in Seattle when protesters actually rioted, or in Quebec when Trudeau instituted the War Measures act. (And the PLQ actually killed someone.)

  4. G20: A few questions to ask organizers of G20 There are a lot of good questions asked in this Spacing article.

  5. I did no such thing. You just like pretending you are me because I am so damn awesome. :P

  6. The Toronto Star G20 Blog has reports from children being released from the Eastern detention centre.

  7. Caught in the storm, penned in at Queen Street. The Globe and Mail has collected the tweets of one of their reporters, who was stuck at Queen and Spadina with other protesters. "Talked to guy from Iran. 'are you in the protest?' I asked. 'now, everyone is part of the protest. How can you not be?'"

  8. I’d say the police did a damn fine job this weekend. It was relatively uneventful, and no serious damage to the city or citizens.

    The police were constantly on top of the situation.

    I don’t feel like the crowd was being pinned in, in that picture. They were just being directed/contained onto Queen street where people knew to avoid and many of the stores were already boarded up. You can’t very well have the crowds moving throughout the city as they please.

    I was also downtown the entire weekend, I personally witnessed police officers taking verbal and physical abuse without retaliation. The news seems to like to portray one side of the story to sensationalize it.

    And while we may have arrested more people than Seattle, maybe that’s why it didn’t escalate to the same levels.

  9. You can’t very well have the crowds moving throughout the city as they please.

    Except you can. It’s called free assembly. If they aren’t busting shit up, you have the right to travel where you please in public, and with whom you please. That's from Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (And on Saturday, when people were actually breaking shit, the cops didn't seem too concerned.) Queen and Spadina is nowhere near the Security Zone. Based on the Globe and Mail report, it sounds like the group that got pinned in at Queen and Spadina were a bunch of nobodies, tourists, and people going about their day.

    I agree things could have been worse, and for the most part the cops seemed to be very patient.

  10. I disagree that the police did a fine job, I think they accomplished their mission, which is good for them I suppose. But they changed the nature of their response drastically from Saturday to Sunday, using the Black Bloc mayhem has a reason to become much more aggressive even to groups that appeared to have little to no chance of turning violent.

    The instances I think were worst:

    1) Saturday evening at Queen’s Park, they pepper-sprayed a bunch of people who were sitting peacefully on the median. They then forced everyone out of the “designated speech zone”.

    2) Queen & Spadina, Sunday afternoon/evening, the remnants of the Bike Rally were penned in, detained in the rain, and eventually cuffed and processed.

    3) King and Bay, Sunday evening, just read Steve Paikin’s quotes from the evening, (http://www.twitter.com/spaikin), he basically seems dumbfounded as to why the cops started closing in and arresting people.

    These were all peaceful protests, and on Saturday, the police were generally just allowing them to continue. After the Saturday mayhem, the police flipped a switch and started to get very aggressive. That’s their prerogative, but without serious evidence coming out in the next few days, I’m not believing that all their actions and arrests were because they saw people in the crowds that had already committed violent acts. Especially considering all the anecdotal stories of random people being scooped up by the police.

  11. While I understand that people are allowed to roam wherever they would like because of some freedom bullshit. What about my rights to drive down spadina? Do the protesters have a right to block me from where I want to go?

    Who in their right mind goes down there to hang out and ‘watch’? I’m all for peaceful protesters, but we all know they aren’t being heard anyway. Can you honestly name all the groups that were down there? The not so peaceful protesters want to be heard, and know you need to be on the news to do so.

    While the average person has the right to go anywhere they’d like, they were given NUMEROUS warnings by police to stay away from downtown, through many and various media outlets. You can’t tell me that you didn’t know which areas of the city to avoid. Sometimes common sense needs to prevail, I’d be stupid to put my hand on the stove if I know it’s hot… how’s that any different here?

  12. We have the luxury to call rights to free assembly and association “freedom bullshit” because we live in Canada. There are plenty of places in the world where people don’t enjoy such rights, and they are for the most part unpleasant.

    Who in their right mind goes down there to hang out and ‘watch’?

    I think if you wanted to look at the spectacle that was the G20, than that’s your right. You should be able to travel your city without being harassed by cops if you aren’t doing anything wrong. I know Limin went wandering the city on the Saturday, and I think the Sunday.

    But let’s assume i’m wrong about that, and people should know better than to wander towards a (peaceful) protest. I think we can both agree that reporters should be allowed to report about what’s taking place in the city. This is what happened to a CTV reporter:

    On Saturday evening, [Mr. Fatholahzadeh] was at Queen’s Park as protesters retreated there, when he was suddenly tackled by plainclothes police. “They told me to relax, which was weird because I was totally relaxed,” Mr. Fatholahzadeh said. “They told me I should know better than to be here.”

    Emphasis is mine.

    There are lots of reasons people might have been down there. Lots of people live along Queen, for starters.

  13. What about my rights to drive down spadina? Do the protesters have a right to block me from where I want to go?

    While the average person has the right to go anywhere they’d like, they were given NUMEROUS warnings by police to stay away from downtown, through many and various media outlets.

    These two statements seem to be at odds with each other. Either you want to be able to go where you want, which means that the right should be extended to those who want to protest as well. Or you think that people should heed the warnings and stay away from the core.

    And of course, if you do feel people should be able to go where they want to go, shouldn’t you have real problems with the giant fence that shut off much of the core? Or the lines of riot cops that penned in protesters?

  14. I have no problem with them moving about the city per se as long as they stick to side walks and watch traffic lights etc.. These crowds were blocking streets/intersections as they went. I’m ok with allowing visitors to come a protest, not so much with letting them lockdown the city.

    Lets not argue for the sake of argument. I’m sure we can both agree that the security zone was in place for good reason.

    How about respect? Is that too much to ask for? I don’t think you can really say the police started anything. Had the crowds/protesters shown respect for a) the city (storefronts, police cars, etc), b) the rights of the Torontonians (our storefronts, rights to move about the city), things would not have escalated.

  15. Anyone that wanted to watch could have watched the crowds without being part of the crowds.

    I would also like to think that I could have the freedom to travel about the city without being harrassed/blocked by protesters. I’m sorry, but had they not infringed on the freedoms of those that tried to stay out of it, I think it would have ended quite differently.

    Did the tamils have the right to protest last year? hell yeah!!! did they have the right to take over our highway? hell no!!

  16. Freed from 629 Eastern, Detainee’s speak.

    Maryam Adrangi relates a conversation between the male officers who photographed her during processing: “‘Take another one,’ says an officer. Another says, ‘Send me one!’ A third says, ‘let’s keep this one [Adrangi] here a bit longer.’” Robichaud claims that an officer commented on a wooden turtle she wears as a necklace, asking if it was her “totem.” She says he continued: “That sure as hell didn’t help you out last night, did it?” Robichaud claims that officers “tried to break our spirits and ridicule our beliefs.” There were toilets in plain view, strip searches, and concerns that at least two detainees who were identified as minors but not permitted to leave.

  17. G20 Dispatches: Everyone Loses

  18. I don’t think you can really say the police started anything.

    MetaFilter comment from a fellow who was harassed by cops after eating dinner at Bathurst and Dundas. He was at the protests earlier, so maybe he was decked out in protest gear. He makes it sound very unprovoked. He's definitely far from the "security zone" and protests: he was harassed at Bloor and Bathurst.

    I think when you have so many cops in riot gear deployed in the city you’ve already escalated things. The whole event and how it is policed is really designed to provoke the sorts of reactions they get. There are always those sorts of "cops are pigs" douchebags who will show up at these protests and aren't going to react well to cops acting like para-military. I think there have to be better ways to secure things.

  19. G20: When peaceful protests turn ugly.

    I hope that, in the coming days, looped footage of broken windows and unattended police cars being set on fire is replaced by reports from groups of people who were simply there. As I write, this has been the crime of many who police have detained — they were there, they were assembled and they were robbed of that right.

  20. I need a ‘new link’ filter or some such junk for my comments here. I don’t know if mixing extra links in with normal comments works well.

  21. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r97igtJj-aA

    damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The cops get the short end of the stick either way.

  22. I watched all ten minutes of that video, but I’ll be honest, I don’t see the point. Are you asserting that the protesters on Queen and Spadina, or at Pape and Eastern outside the detention centre, would have gone on that same rampage if police hadn’t penned them in and then cuffed and arrested/detained them?

    I find that very hard to believe. The protesters on Sunday were not dressed in Black-bloc style, they sure looked like average people who were attempting to peacefully protest. Especially the group at Queen and Spadina who began as the Bike Block group that were cooperating with police until the cops decided to bring out the riot gear. Steve Paikin’s account of the Saturday night King/Bay protest is that it was totally peaceful, but then the cops surrounded them and then started arresting people. I mean, they surrounded them, and rounded them all up and restrained/detained them. Not all were sent to detention centres, but to then hear Bill Blair and other spokespeople saying that they were carefully picking out people who they KNEW had been violent before, that just smells like bullshit.

    I don’t know whether the cops purposefully allowed the Saturday afternoon mayhem to occur in order to justify greater force the rest of the weekend, that’s a bit tinfoil hat-ish for me. But, in my opinion, they sure did use the Black bloc actions as a reason to shut down ALL protests the next day, and they did it in a very aggressive and scary manner. That’s pretty despicable, if you ask me.

  23. Let’s start with the video and Saturday. They were criticized for not squashing the Black Bloc then and there. From watching the video, I think it would have been unsafe for the officers and the ‘peacefuls’ if they had attempted to stop the BB at that time. I think they did the right thing to let them run their course under a watchful eye as long as no one was getting hurt.

    Sunday, I’m not saying they should have arrested everyone. But I also think they had the public interest in mind as well. The protesters had started to encroach on people that had attempted, and were successful up until that point, at avoiding the protest. They had started pouring ONTO the public streets disrupting the lives of people that were trying to stay away from them. The protesters (peaceful or otherwise), media, and on-lookers, are not the only people with rights and freedoms to be protected.

    They were given an opportunity to march peacefully up the Spadina on Saturday with a POLICE ESCORT (bike cops, not riot police). A few groups did march up Spadina, but after about half an hour they all marched back down to Queen street instead of continuing on.

    I’ll just end this by saying that I think they did a good job in a tough situation. They managed to get through the entire weekend without any serious injuries reported, which by my standards is pretty impressive.

  24. Inside the Queen and Spadina detention zone.

    Eventually people were so sick of standing in the rain that a line formed. It was a line to be arrested. I decided to wait around as I had a hunch that the police wouldn’t want to process 200 people, especially if half of them weren’t protesters to begin with.

  25. I love Canada.

  26. But, in my opinion, they sure did use the Black bloc actions as a reason to shut down ALL protests the next day, and they did it in a very aggressive and scary manner. That’s pretty despicable, if you ask me.

    Despicable is a strong word. Do the police really care if there are protests in the city? They let the Tamil protests last year go on for months and months. They let massive protests and protest marches go on in the city every day.

    It feels like the cops couldn’t win in this situation. When people heard about the massive security apparatus being constructed before the g20 they were outraged that we were turning into a police state (and an expensive one at that). When the Black Bloc kids trashed the city, people were outraged that the police didn’t stop them. Then the next day when the police arrested a ton of people and hemmed in protesters they thought included Black Bloc members, people were outraged that they were shutting down legitimate protest.

    In some ways the Black Bloc stuff reminds me of guerrilla warfare, where ambulances are used to carry weapons and attackers immediately disappear back into the town by blending in. Any response by authorities will be disruptive to (and often lethal to) civilians. And that is the point of the tactic.

    Engaging with the violent protester on Saturday would have risked a riot or serious injuries (they had bricks and hammers and molotov cocktails). So when the police thought they identified Black Bloc folks on Queen the next day, they just hemmed everyone in and waited it out. Sure those protesters didn’t look like Black Bloc protesters, but that is the entire point of the Black Bloc tactic. So the cops made a judgement call.

    There were people who came to the protests specifically to blow shit up, tear the city apart and provoke a violent crackdown by police. But for the most part, the cops were remarkably disciplined. The Toronto public and the visiting world leaders were kept safe. There were no (very few?) serious injuries. And thousands and thousands of people were able to protest peacefully – even if the media ignored them. Shouldn’t that be considered a success?

    But yeah, I agree that having the G20 downtown was a terrible idea.

  27. Dude goes nuts because the Eaton’s Centre is closed.

    Amazing.

  28. “Dan Dolderman is a professor at the University of Toronto. His area of expertise is psychology, particularly as it relates to fostering sustainability. Dan was arrested on Sunday at Queen and Spadina. He was there as an observer. He posted the following account on his Facebook page."

  29. The revolution will be televised. Some really great videos from YouTube of the protests. (i'm surprised cops didn't bust more heads on Saturday. Those Black Bloc kids seem like such douchebags.)

  30. More video: 14 essential G20 videos. I missed some of these.

  31. Swept from a peaceful protest.

  32. This thing should have never been brought to Toronto. It was too hard to control. Thank you Stephen Harper. Did they honestly believe that this thing would happen without anything going wrong and without problems?

    I am all for “Freedom Of Speech” and all that. Peaceful Protest is all right too. But it’s when you take it up the next few levels and bring on the violent behaviour then you loose that freedom.

    They burned cruisers, broke windows, went crazy. And they feel that their rights were violated? They broke the law, caused property damage. Who knows what would happen if the police did not step in.

    As for those that went down there putting themselves in the situation to be arrested then I say they had it coming. Common Sense should have told people to stay the hell away from the area.

    I just think it was wrong to hold this here in Toronto.

  33. As for those that went down there putting themselves in the situation to be arrested then I say they had it coming.

    If the government had declared martial law, then that might make sense. As it stands, walking around the city you live in isn’t a crime — even if there are lots of cops on the street.

    They burned cruisers, broke windows, went crazy.

    There were thousands of protesters downtown. As far as I can tell, some tiny minority did the things you said. Most people were marching and sitting and chanting and doing things we’re all allowed to do.

    I am all for “Freedom Of Speech” and all that.

    Are you sure?

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