Weekend of weekends (part 1)

Posted on June 28th, 2010 7 great comments. Room for one more!

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.

g20, native rights groups, protests, protesters, allan gardens, toronto, city, life

A number of protests gathered at Allan Gardens, the public park just north of my flat. Protest organizers contacted police well ahead of time and the cops responded by clearing the park of any throw-able objects (I think the garbage cans are coming back today). Protesters also shared their route with the police who in turn cleared a path through traffic and escorted them. The police upheld (often with smiles and friendly banter), citizens’ rights to peaceable assembly and demonstration. Shock!

g20, protests, protesters, american unemployed, allan gardens, toronto, city, life

Just about every one of these early rallies was organized by one main group but typically composed of a variety of sympathetic ones that lent their voices of support. For example, the Native Rights group in these photos were really a collection of different tribes from around Canada and also included anti-poverty activists, minority rights people, women’s rights demonstrators, and so on. Say what you will about these people, even some of the more militant factions, they conducted themselves with dignity and there wasn’t even a hint of violence. I hope they don’t do it too often but I’d welcome them to march down the streets of Toronto any day.

red power, native rights group, protests, protesters, g20, allan gardens, toronto, city, life

Even some of the groups that protested closer to the G20 had some minor skirmishes with the police — but not these folks. I must profess a deep respect for what I saw, especially in light of what took place later during the weekend. And I learned a few things that I feel bear further study, things like disturbingly large number of missing native women, as well as stories of life in foster care, and so on. Many of the personal tales ended on an upbeat tone – people had gotten their lives together and are trying to provide a better one for their kids; it wasn’t whining or complaining, in other words.

No lazy alcoholic Indians in sight.

g20, native rights protester, protests, allan gardens, toronto, city, life

As the week wore on the protests intensified, the rhetoric did as well. That’s a shame because it ended up providing air time for people with increasingly smaller brains. And, although there were increasingly restrictive, and by all accounts secret (no one was told about them!), measures piled on Toronto citizens, these too led to shrill hyperbole that, well … have a look for yourself. (Try not to crack a smile.)

Turns out this law had been on the books for some time (it applies to police stations, government offices, etc.), but was extended to five meters (sixteen feet) around the security fence. Only temporarily, I should add – the added powers given to the police expired about ten hours ago as of this post. And I believe only two people were arrested under it, including Charlie Veitch, the guy being interviewed in the video acting all innocent (sorry, Charlie, but I was right there in the crowd with you!), and Dave Vasey the guy Charlie mentions he was in jail with. And who also turned out to be a bit of an instigator.

But many of the measures initially seemed draconian and like something out of a George Orwell novel. The term “police state” was bandied about a lot and, for a while there, I admit that I bought into it.

Were the police really going to start cracking down, putting bags over our heads, murdering us, and stealing out organs?!

Continued in next part…

7 Comments on “ Weekend of weekends (part 1) ”

  • James
    June 28th, 2010 1:49 pm

    Great post, Patrick. Nice to hear from the front lines. The ones being quoted by the media in Seattle sound sincere but perhaps guided by something other than narcissism. However, just because you can say "matrix of power" doesn't make you an intellectual or suggest that you even know what it means.

    Peace,

    James


    Read more from James at: http://zheist.blogspot.com
  • Patrick
    June 29th, 2010 10:59 am

    Hey James, the "matrix of power" thing sounds like the same stuff being peddled by the likes of infowars.com (the video you see here — banners being flown at the protest). To be honest, anyone using that slogan sounds kinda dumb to me. Propaganda runs both ways, that was made clear over this past weekend. I'm glad to have witnessed the events first-hand and can tell you without a moment's pause that some of the things being said by the protesters are nothing short of bold-faced lies. The problem is that these yahoos are mixed in with legitimate protesters and their message is quickly illegitimized because of it.

    When you're in front of a protest group screaming "you can't tell us to shut the fuck up!" — and they're being escorted down a street by police, blocking traffic, etc. you gotta wonder what's wrong with them. No one was even asking them to keep it down let alone shut up. People shouting "these are our streets!" with heavy French accents is another bit of stupidity that I can't get over. No, not their streets. *sigh*


  • Teena in Toronto
    June 30th, 2010 5:09 pm

    I started away from it all.


    Read more from Teena in Toronto at: http://teenaintoronto.com
  • Patrick
    July 1st, 2010 3:31 pm

    That was probably a wise move, Teena. Anyone there really had to be prepared to be considered part of the mob.


  • Mr. Toronto
    July 1st, 2010 11:46 am

    You sir, are a douchebag.


    Read more from Mr. Toronto at:
  • Patrick
    July 1st, 2010 3:38 pm

    A salient point, Mr. Toronto. I've heard much the same thing from many of the "protesters" marching the streets.


  • Stanya
    July 2nd, 2010 7:22 am

    Dear Patrick,you gave us beautifully true pictures of what've happend in Toronto during G20 and G8, thanks for that. We were watching all days and you are right, at the begining it was all peacefull until those stupid black blockers and their followers didn't come into the picture. Our police was remarkable and truly I admire them, they treated the situations with great overlook and really well. I would think in some situations they should be sharper. All the media should speak truth the same way. I am almost positive that Mr. Toronto was one of those idiots otherwise his comment wouldn't be so stupid. Whatever was happenig these days in Toronto was remarkably ridicoulus. Summit was wortless, they didn't produce anyting worth of this enormous amount of money spent for their security and whole thing was crowned with visitors stupidity and negligence. How dare they to protest in the name of human rights by braking and destroying other people's property and damaging our beautiful Toronto. In my opinion somebody was responsible for whole miserable idea of Summit held this way in Toronto and those people should be punished for all the damage not only material damage but also for spending such enormous taxpayers money and for WHAT?

    nd how to heal this wounds?

    There is no better way to make citizens happy than pleased us with another taxes hence HST. Shame on all of our governments. Instead of to take better care of their own people and country they spent money for anybody and everything else in the world trying to make us beleive that it will bring Canada on the world map. How idiotic.


    Read more from Stanya at:

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