On a scale of 1 to 3, with 1 being granola-popping tie-dyed hippies, and 3 being black bloc anarchists, the OCAP (Ontario Coalition Against Poverty) protesters on Friday would probably rate at 2. Not outright violent instigation, but prepared to throw a few punches.
You may have already seen the video in which John Clarke bluntly states, “they have given us war, we’re looking to give them war back”, and “things are not gonna to be peaceful”. This speech was given prior to the march and these quotes weren’t taken out of context. Mr. Clarke further urged protesters not to be afraid of the police which, during this protest march, made their presence clear.
I had to see it for myself, dear reader. I knew that nothing like it would be in town for, potentially, the rest of my life. So I had to see it for myself.
I am, of course, referring to the G20 summit that shut down most of Toronto over the weekend. I’m sure most people are now well aware of the outrageous costs surrounding the event and I wanted to see what kind of security that kind of money could buy. Even more than that, I wanted to see how the situation would be handled.
At every one of these meetings there are accusations of police brutality, protest situations getting out of hand, riot police, riot police, and more riot police. I needed to see the instigators for myself and not have to rely on either the media, the police, or the protesters for the facts – they could be quite skewed in all directions. The only way I can say anything with authority is to be right there between the riot police and the balaclava’d opposition.
But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Lots of stuff happened over the weekend but plenty happened before that. There were a number of protest marches and demonstrations throughout the city that, unfortunately, were lost in the subsequent shuffle. There were also a couple of related news items that I think are worth mentioning.
Despite some of the images you may have seen coming out of Toronto over the past few days, the vast majority of the protests and protesters were entirely peaceful.