One of the most iconic images of the G20 riots a couple of weeks ago was the that of the burning police car. You know the one:
I’ve heard a lot of criticism of the Toronto Police for leaving the vehicles unattended (as though that was, somehow, justification for them being set on fire). I’ve also heard much speculation on why the cars were there in the first place. Well, I have some theories on the second point (they were following the rear of the protest parade, perhaps?), but I believe I can answer the first one succinctly and authoritatively:
Putting resources (riot cops) to work guarding other areas, at that point, seemed like a pretty wise move. I suppose they could’ve tried to send a tow tuck in there to try to retrieve the cruisers but I think it’s reasonable to think that the truck could easily meet with the same fate. And that’s assuming they could get the seated “protesters” out of the way.
Some people have tried to convince me that these seated youngsters were there in order to protect the cops. Haha! No shit! The same people trying to convince me heard it “from a friend” or other such reliable sources. But I tend not to trust those sources so much. Also, I took some time out to speak to the people on the ground directly — and that’s not the story I got.
I approached the young man with the glasses and leather jacket seated at the bottom of the last photo above to inquire why he was there. He initially misunderstood me and said, “No!”
I retried it with something simpler, “Where are you from?!”
“I’m from here! Toronto!”, he replied. (It was pretty loud)
“Who is this group you’re seated with?!”, I continued.
“I don’t know!”, he smiled, “I just sat down with them when I saw they were forming a line!”
“Oh!”, I shouted back, quite surprised. (I’d assumed the group was more organized than that.) “So what’re you protesting?!”
“I just don’t like the police!”, he shouted back, smiling, and shrugged.
Unfortunately, the mainstream media got there considerably later (as usual – slow pokes!), and it was they who were initially berating the cops for abandoning their cars (plus engaging in a little melodrama for the cameras and my amusement later on). Essentially, I don’t think they really had access to the full story.
Probably all that heavy equipment they have to lug around. Plus, they have to find a place to park their vans. In an urban environment, it’s just not the most efficient way to get around.
I’m seriously considering applying as a freelance (or staff), reporter for the local media. I’m thinking that me and my feet are a lot cheaper than a fleet of vans and fancy lighting — seems like a good deal, no?
Anyhow, by now you’ve probably already heard that the Black Bloc (I’ll be writing more about this in a later post), were responsible for the majority of the damage that day. They claim that the name refers to a tactic rather than an organization. I claim that it refers to a bunch of snot-nosed kids with way too much time on their hands.
In hindsight, it was really nice of them to pose for a group photo like this. It was even nice for a few of them to unmask themselves, albeit unwittingly.
You really can’t blame these revolutionary heroes for hiding their faces though. If their mom and dad ever found out I’d bet they’d get grounded for, like, forever. And without their disguises they’d never have been able to seamlessly blend back into the crowd afterward.
If this is a prime example of Black Bloc tactics, I’m going to suggest that they need a new tactician. For starters, maybe not dressing in all-black so as to suggest, you know, Black, would help.
Perhaps they thought that black would be slimming.