Monday, June 28, 2010

Protesting G20: An insider's view of Saturday's debacle

The following is a description of Saturday's G20 protests in Toronto, Ontario provided to me by a peaceful observer. All italics have been added by me.

The seemingly peaceful demonstration descended into a riot as protesters moved towards the fence, confronting riot police. Getting anywhere near the fence was virtually impossible. All roads leading up to it were blocked by thousands of very angry riot police eager to attack.

I tried to keep a distance from the chaos, but still saw a lot of the vandalism caused by the so-called Black Bloc, many who self identify themselves as anarchists. I witnessed much of the destruction up close, including the vandalism of shops and banks and the setting ablaze of police vehicles.

It is disappointing to see the message of about 10,000 protesters overshadowed by the actions of, what seemed to be, a group of about 100, maybe a few hundred at most.

Although there was a huge police presence around us, they seemed to just stand around observing intently, as the Black Bloc continued on its tirade of vandalism.

Why did the police look on, seemingly unconcerned? Not sure, but here are some of my speculations. Perhaps, it was too hard to get to the Black Bloc hooligans, since part of the group's strategy was to couch themselves amongst non-violent protesters. Or, maybe the police were more interested in guarding the fence, US consulate, and police station, than they were in protecting Toronto's businesses. In any case, (Canadian Prime Minister) Harper's gratuitous spending will seem justified now, even though the G20 should never have taken place in Toronto.

I was going check out a G20 street party with a lawyer friend of mine last night, but after witnessing the violence and seeing that police were agitated and far out-numbered the protesters, we decided it was too dangerous.

Good thing we didn't. Many people were arrested and beaten last night, including two National Post reporters. Many more were arrested just for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Hanging out around Queen's Park and U of T, would have put any innocent bystander at risk for police suspicion.

I don't know what the anarchists will do today (referring to Sunday June 27). I've heard that most of them are from Quebec, which seems plausible since I heard a lot of the black-masked protesters speaking French to each other.

I suppose it's easier to vandalize Toronto when you're not from Toronto.

Concerned Observer
2010 G20 summit