Tuesday 20 July 2010

Toronto: New Arrests over G20 Vandalism

On Wednesday, July 14, 2010, police released photos of their top 10 vandal suspects. On Friday, July 16, newspapers reported that Toronto police had arrested 2 men in connection with criminal activity that took place during the G20 Summit in Toronto. Today, Tuesday, July 20, Toronto police have announced another 7 arrests: 2 on Sunday and 5 on Monday. The list of charges ranges from mischief over $5,000 to arson and theft.

There have been quite a number of articles after the summit talking about an investigation of the police in regards to their actions during the summit. Were rights trampled? Were officers unfair to protesters?

I live in downtown Toronto. I was witness during the G20 summit of behaviour ranging from criminal on the part of the Black Bloc to reprehensible and stupid on the part of the protesters. While the crowd chanted "Whose streets? My streets!" I noted that these people did not, in fact, live in the downtown core and probably not even in Toronto. I watched windows being smashed, police cars torched and outrageous acts against the members of the various police forces on hand to maintain order. I'm not talking about watching this on TV; I'm talking about watching this right out my front door, in my neighbourhood!

In the past couple of days, there has been amusing coverage of the "bubbles incident" where a young lady was threatened with arrest if she blew bubbles at an officer. Everybody is laughing about this and everyone is using this as an example of how the police were being over-reactive in their duties. Let me tell you about the other side of the coin.

I watched people deliberately take up an aggressive and confrontational stance with individual policemen. One young couple stood in front of a row of riot cops and screamed about their rights and freedoms all while peppering their diatribe with the F word. It was as if any one of those individual police officers was somehow personally responsible for the ills of the world and that these individual officers were somehow able to do something at that very moment to correct those ills.

I watched another man, armed with a wooden stick which I think may have been used to hold up a flag, continually poke at the shield of a riot cop. Think about that one. A guy with a stick pokes at the shield of a policeman. First of all, the cop outweighs the guy by about 25 kilos. Secondly, the riot cop is all decked out with a Kevlar vest, a helmet, a baton and a shield. Plus, I'm sure he was armed. This is not the time or place to be testing Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedom; you are just going to end up pissing the cop off and getting your ass royally kicked. I found these actions to be reprehensible, confrontational and just plain stupid.

At the corners of Beverley and Queen, at approximately 7pm on Saturday, June 26, a group of protesters were face to face with the police. This was after the 1st police cruiser had been set on fire down the street on Queen close to Spadina. The mounted police had been brought in for crowd control. As I watched, several people threw things at the police and these were not Black Bloc people as I did not see any Black Bloc around at this time. One object arced over the crowd and hit a mounted policeman and knocked him off his horse. What!?! I was furious! This was unconscionable. Of course the police reacted and quite rightly so. I imagine people were angry at the police but just how long can you keep poking somebody before they react?

Let me come back to the bubble girl. I'm sure she meant well; I'm sure she was being peaceful in this agitated maelstrom but I also see this as just another attempt to poke the cops, push their buttons and flip the bird at authority. Did the police over-react? Probably. Did the protesters for their part deserve it? Probably. Overall, things got quite out of control on both sides.

Canada is a great country. We are free. I fully support protest as an integral part of our democratic process but there were a lot of mistakes on both sides. The recent arrest of 10 men is very much deserved and I am outraged at these people derailing the protests and undermining our peaceful, democratic society. On Saturday, June 26, 2010 when I walked out of my condo building and started filming the burning police car, I thought I had walked onto the set of the next apocalyptic movie. Let's get rid of the resident evil by arresting the evil residents.

My Complete Photos and Videos of the OMG-20

Day 1: The G20 Summit in Toronto: I'll show you!

Day 2: The G20 Summit in Toronto: I'm shocked. Here?

Day 3: The G20 Summit in Toronto: Thank God It's Over!

Aftermath and Afterthoughts


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