I was planning on going down to Caribana today but the heat and humidity were so oppressive, I thought better of it early on.
And that wasn’t the only thing that was oppressive:
Police, volunteers and private security guarded entrances to the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival, patting people down and searching bags before they entered.
A network of barricades and fences kept the public back from the dancers with glitter-dusted skin and colourful headdresses as they made their way down Toronto’s Lakeshore Blvd.
“There’s so much fences that I can’t hardly see anything,” said Ann James, a nurse from Bloomfield, CT., who was trying to find her way to the end of the parade route.
Pat downs? I thought there weren’t going to be any pat downs! And I thought they were supposed to be reserved only for the saps in the bleachers … you know, all the lowlife criminal scrum like families and the elderly that attend the parade.
And now that I think about it, I’m certain that I mentioned that this was going to turn out to basically be security theatre intended to intimidate the general public.
And now, having mentioning these things (and incidents involving police acting as simply armed thugs, not enforcers of the law), I’m sad to report that they happened last night and today exactly as I predicted.
In fact, Sarah and I decided to go out for some chicken wings in the evening and I don’t remember seeing such a ridiculous number of cops on the streets since the G20. There were cops from all over; Peel Region, Waterloo, Halton. And they were parading around in gaggles of anywhere from four to ten at intervals of — and I’m not exaggerating in any way — every single block around the city core. At times there were more cops than pedestrians.
And I can’t tell you the number of parking enforcement cops that simply strolled by cars parked in front of fire hydrants and blocking intersections, right in front of our wing place, no more than a meter away from us and clearly visible through a huge glass pane window. To put it another way, the police weren’t enforcing the law, they were out to make sure we all saw their presence.
You may, at this point, be wondering if the word “despotism” was accurate in the title of this post. After all, it’s a pretty weighty word with lots of nasty connotations. Well, how about we let Encyclopedia Britannica explain (and while you watch, keep the banking bailouts, growing disparity between rich and poor, government censorship and gagging, and the near dictatorial pronouncements and oppressive, repressive laws and practices coming from both down south and here from Harper’s Canada, in the back of your mind):