…continued from part 1.
And then there are the protesters.
Obviously I believe that they have something to protest. Even the groups that I think are mostly out to lunch deserve to have their voices heard. And both the government and the security forces have repeatedly stated that people have the right to peaceably demonstrate. I mean, putting the “official” demonstration area twelve blocks north of where the summit is happening is laughable, but at the same time, the few recent protests that have taken place moved around the city pretty much unimpeded. Accompanied by Toronto police, of course, but with the cops actually “keeping the peace” — as advertised!
As I’ve been careful to point out, most of the police I’ve encountered so far have successfully walked that thin line between enforcement and accommodation. Good people, and I get the impression that they got into policing for all the right reasons. Basically the kind of cops you’d want policing your streets. And I’ve already spent enough time berating those officers that seem to be ready to cross over the aforementioned line in a non-accommodating way (though the opposite is just as bad).
At the same time, the extra security around town isn’t entirely unwarranted. The tactics being used or espoused by some of the protest groups run the gamut from just plain dumb right up to outright violent. That protest on Monday, for example, the one that I ended up missing while I was having my chat with the riot police, that one ended up at an Esso gas station not too far away. It was a mostly peaceful march and the gas station was occupied for only about 10 minutes — but what the hell was the point?
Presumably the protesters were intending to hurt the Esso Corporation, but none of them seemed to be able to pull their heads out of their asses long enough to realize that a single gas station isn’t the corporation. Most of these stations are operated as franchises by individuals. These people invest in the business, as with any other franchise, and then pay the head company for products, deliveries, etc. Admittedly some locations do better than others, but attacking them is basically the same as attacking individual business owners. And their families. And the customers. Taking over a single location really doesn’t do a whole heck of a lot of damage to the corporation, just to the very people that these protests are supposed to be supporting.
Here again the police exercised restraint and wisdom and let the protesters stick around for a little while before moving them off. Frankly, I believe in property laws (I don’t want random people barging into my place!), so I thought the cops were being quite generous. Plus, as someone who’s had to sit in traffic while placard-waving idiots walked by my car and banged on the hood, blocking off traffic is not something I necessarily approve of. Okay, yeah, a peaceful march and a few minutes of inconvenience is fine. But again, we’re all roughly in the same boat so who are these protests really affecting?
So obviously some of these protesters are missing the point. Wonder if they ever had it to begin with. But they had their fifteen minutes, wasted it, see ya next time.
When they mix violence into it, however, that takes stupidity to a whole new level. And if the Toronto Community Mobilization Network (responsible for putting up, feeding, and organizing most of the visiting protesters), bothered to give it any thought, they’d denounce violence in a heartbeat.
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