Okay, it’s now been well over two weeks and I’m just about ready to put this puppy to bed.
But before I do, let me round out the G20 weekend for you, dear reader. Let’s start with the Black Bloc, the attention whores of the summit. While I was trying to figure out who they are and where they came from, a few glaringly obvious pieces of evidence jumped out at me with a, “zut alors!”
I’m ninety-nine percent convinced that the Bloc and their comrades are Quebec separatists.
For starters, you may remember some of the shit that the FLQ — Canada’s very own home-grown terrorist organization — got up to during the sixties, demonstrating that they were more than ready to use violence, kidnapping, and murder to achieve their ends. A few broken windows and graffiti, really, wouldn’t be beyond the pale.
As “socialists”, they easily take offense to anything even resembling capitalism, so their presence at the G20 riots wouldn’t be at all out of character. Finding day-glo stickers attached to vandalism such as in the above photo (not even bothering to deliver an English version of the statement), well, that’s a pretty strong message that these folks were from out of town.
Now, do you remember the two young vandals trying to torch the CBC News van in the previous post? Well, they were part of this group:
These folks were appropriately dressed as unthinking zombies and, apart from readily engaging in vandalism, were spreading all sorts of strange mixed messages. Maybe it’s a language barrier thing. The banner above, for example – does it mean that they’re waging war against truth? In other words, spreading lies? And what about the miniature casket they were carrying around with them for effect?
In case you can’t read it, the writing down the side says, “DEMOCRATIE”. That’s French, as in Québécois, for “DEMOCRACY”. Again, I’m not sure what was meant by this – does it symbolize the death of democracy? As in, they’re mourning for it? Or are they the ones who want to bring about its demise? In hindsight, the brain-dead getups were bang-on.
But I think the most damning piece of evidence was a leaflet (along with some other excellent literature), I received from a self-styled “Marxist” a few days earlier at the Allan Gardens rally (where we can also see black-clad, French-speaking “anticapitalistes”):
To me, this kinda ties it all together with a nice little bow. First we have the “Revolutionary Communist Party” identification front and center. Communism, Socialism, FLQ, pee pee poo, same same.
Although the RCP betray some of their earlier FLQ ideals by actually including English here, they nonetheless put their French acronym first in the website address and, lo and behold, they’re based out of Montreal, Quebec! And have a look at the photograph they chose to accompany the leaflet; golly gee, don’t they look exactly like Toronto’s own Black Bloc goofbags? I’m guessing that I’ll get a good gander at them in mid-December, and I’m further guessing that I won’t be a bit surprised at what I see.
Even the name Black Bloc – spelled without a “k”; the French way – it all leads back to the same place, the same people — les idiots.
Not an awful lot of brainpower involved here.
Truly the work of the mentally challenged. At least they got one word right.
PPISONS must be some sort of French flambé dish.
Not the POLIVE! Anything but the POLIVE! Or POLIUE? These French spellings always screw me up.
This one shocked me with it’s coherence. They got the anarchy symbol wrong but hey, they are rebels. Maybe this is their way of saying “FUCK ANERKY!”.
Okay, enough of douchebags and their monosyllabic eloquence. There’s one other issue that keeps getting raised over and over again: police violence.
One of the main reasons I stuck myself at the front lines was to see exactly how the police would deal with the protesters, and how the protesters engaged police.
The main theme repeatedly brought up by the Toronto Community Mobilization Network, the people who hosted all of the protesters (including the Bloc), was the use of violent police tactics. This was well before any of the protests actually began. Some of their concerns seemed legitimate; I myself discussed some of the police interactions I had had with the Network’s legal counsel. But their defeatist attitude and their refusal to lift a finger to actually aid anyone quickly convinced me that they weren’t really in it for the social change or the protest. And, despite repeated interviews (some of which I was at personally), they refused to denounce violence. At all. In any way. In fact, any time they were asked about it, they would deflect with something to the effect of, “well that was a stupid question. What about the real issues?”
So here’s a group of people, actively fomenting violent protest. I mean, freely mingling with Bloc members and (it’s even been suggested), protecting them, pretty much speaks for itself. And once again, I have my own experience to lean on – the cops I spoke to clearly stated that they didn’t want any violence and that they would refrain whenever possible. The TCMN said nothing of the sort, even going so far as to suggest that violence may be necessary for those “without a voice”. I’m not sure who these hypothetical voiceless people were, though; I could scarcely hear my own thoughts over the din sometimes.
The majority of the protests, however, were peaceful. Non-violent, I mean. Yes, the cops were out in full riot gear, and I was prepared to bolt if anyone got to shoving, but it didn’t happen while I was there.
In fact, as with the protest marches, I got the distinct feeling that many of the people either had no idea why there were there, were there to invite people to the Rage Against the Machine concert taking place later (no kidding, actually handing out glossy leaflets), or weren’t part of any protest; just kinda hanging out or there to make new friends.
When I got home that Saturday evening I followed Twitter for a while to see what was happening. One of the major online happenings that night was the brief detention of Steve Paikin, effectively TVOntario’s news anchor with The Agenda.
As his disjointed tweets rolled in, describing the riot police moving in on a group of sitting protesters on The Esplanade, people were reacting with shock and basically saying, “There? See? A respected journalist getting hassled by the police! POLICE STATE!”
My take on Steve Paikin? Not sure if I want to say it publicly. But not positive. Not at all. That goes for everyone else who was rounded up and arrested in that late-night demonstration.
Let’s get a few things straight, shall we?
To begin with, every time the police moved their lines (and by all reports, that evening was no exception), they gave everyone a good loud warning. Of course some people chose to ignore it and instead asserted that these were “our streets!”
As we’ve learned, no, zeez are not your streetz, Frenchies.
I was part of a few riot police actions and, through some miracle, managed to escape without harm or incarceration. What miracle, you ask? I GOT OUT OF THE FUCKING WAY!
This, I believe, was Steve’s first failure. I suppose that he was expecting that his prima donna status would put him above all that. His tweets certainly gave me that impression.
Next, Steve started to question why the riot police were moving on a line of peaceful protesters simply sitting out in the middle of the street, in the middle of the night, asserting their right to sit in the middle of the street, in the middle of the night. As we all do.
Two points on the ignoramus scale for Stevie here.
First, when would police ever let people block a street like that, protest or not? Tell you what, Steve, why don’t you go out and stand in the middle of a downtown intersection right now? Just stand there, or better yet, sit like the protesters did – peacefully — and refuse to move — peacefully. Go on, exercise your rights. Do it with a group of friends if it’ll make you feel more comfortable.
Second, the cops had spent the better part of the day trying to break up these groups who had demonstrated quite aptly that they were ready to engage in good old-fashioned vandalism. Gee, Steve, you couldn’t see any reason why the police might try to disperse the group? Or maybe you expected that they should’ve questioned people individually so that they could let all the good ones go? Seriously? Dumbass.
Then the situation started to get heavy. Apparently Steve witnessed a foreign reporter getting hit in the gut by riot cops. The guy happened to be unaccredited and was mouthing off to the police for being detained.
Here, again, I hearken back to my own expectations of the protests going in. I had these little hand-made paper signs that read “MEDIA: torontocitylife.com”, affixed to my bag and shirt. I expected that, should I be detained by police, they would count for exactly nothing. They were there, basically, as a form of hope that, should I be detained, the cops might treat me with some leniency. Certainly not an expectation of any kind.
Apparently Steve’s expectation was that he could just stroll out into the middle of a protest, surrounded by riot cops who had spent a day fighting burning police cars and getting harangued by rude protesters, and that…what? They’d come up to him and ask for his autograph?
I keep asking the same questions over and over again: Why was I able to read all the situations correctly (I was part of quite a few protests and standoffs that day, Steve was part of one)? Why wasn’t I hassled, detained, arrested, or even looked at funny? Why was I always looking for “outs” and making sure the cops weren’t getting ready to close in? And when they did, why was I always able to successfully side-step them?
Why does a complete amateur like me go into a situation with, what are obviously realistic expectations, and someone like Steve Paikin walks obliviously into the rabble, after everything that took place that day, and expects to come out smelling like roses?
Stay behind the desk where you belong, Steve.
And that goes for the rest of you people who “innocently” wondered into these protests and found yourselves “unwittingly” caught up in the police crackdown. Next time, here are a few clues that might tell you something might be going down, even if you do genuinely wander into these situations like the blithering idiots that you claim to be:
- Do you see a line of heavily shielded riot police bearing shields, night sticks, and gas masks? That might be an indication that there’s a heavy police presence there and that something might happen. You may want to hang back a bit.
- Did you suddenly wander into a pack of people who are shielding their faces with bandanas and sunglasses? Those people probably don’t want to be identified, probably because they’re up to no good. You might want to leave that particular group. Again, just hang back if you’re curious.
- Are people engaging in illegal activity? (The law applies 24 hours a day. As far as I know, there is no moratorium on Saturday nights.) If you see something like this, chances are good that police may move in to arrest them. Chances are even better if there was a high level of illegal activity earlier in the day. If you’re in the middle of the group, the police probably won’t stop to have a pleasant chat with you about why you’re there, what your favourite restaurants are, and so on.
- Are you in front of a line of riot police who have suddenly started to move forward? They have to move in unison in order to maintain their line so they won’t be going that fast. Maybe…get out of the way?
- Have you just been detained by police while in the midst of a volatile situation (see above for indicators)? Try not telling them to go fuck themselves, or calling them pigs, etc. Perhaps just try following their directions? I know, I know, they just want to beat you and rape you but, hey, you might luck out. Calling them names or trying to fight them is less likely to get you out of that situation unscathed, unless you believe you can take them all on.
- Is your head in your ass? Pull it out.
Now let’s never speak of this ugly affair again. Unless something interesting and relevant comes up.