Monday, June 28, 2010

G20 is Canada's Disgrace But Not Because of the Rioters

Don Martin wrote a piece for the Vancouver Sun, Harper's symbolic win costs Toronto a black eye.

It should read The Mess that Harper made of Toronto gives Canada a Black Eye.

How many police have surrounded these peaceful protesters, and why weren't they surrounding the real criminals? Why was so much vandalism possible, when there were 19,000 police officers providing "security"?

Of course publishing an article in the West where you can slam Toronto and praise Stephen Harper, will invoke all of the warm and fuzzy feelings, that while divisive, will probably hit their mark. The one billion dollar price tag was justifiable given the outcome. It was all Toronto's fault.

What I find appalling is when you scan the photos with this piece, where the obvious criminals are smashing things, there are NO police. And yet they are storming civilians kissing and giving the peace sign. What is wrong with these pictures?

John Hilary wrote for the UK Guardian:

To a foreigner, the Canadian police are a confusing bunch. With Toronto locked down for the G20 summit, several of them have been cycling around the deserted streets on mountain bikes presenting what we would see as the very picture of community policing. Yet side by side with this benign image is an intimidating, militarised presence that many Canadians feel has been deliberately cultivated in order to undermine their right to protest against the G20 and its damaging impacts.

The security operation on the streets of Toronto has provided Canadians with the greatest single talking point of the G20 gathering this weekend. Many locals are furious at the $1bn price tag for policing a summit which they never wanted to host in the first place. ... The high level of militarisation that has been witnessed over the past couple of days has also been a major talking point, as Canadians are not accustomed to seeing such weaponry being so openly paraded at civil demonstrations. One small protest against poverty and homelessness in Toronto itself was quickly surrounded by vast numbers of police in full riot gear, including mounted police. More chilling still was the visible presence of heavily armed officers touting tear gas rifles and other firearms; police have also confirmed firing
plastic bullets and pepper spray capsules at demonstrators on Saturday night.

"One small protest against poverty and homelessness in Toronto itself was quickly surrounded by vast numbers of police in full riot gear, including mounted police ... " And yet there are only civilians surrounding these guys.

Amnesty International is calling for a review of the security measures, which were clearly in place to stifle dissent and not act as protection.

In a statement today (June 27), the organization expressed "very deep concern" that human rights have "suffered considerably" during the protests in Toronto.

According to Amnesty, the heavy police presence in the city—as well as acts of vandalism and violence by some protesters—has helped to create an atmosphere of fear that has kept many people from participating in peaceful demonstrations. "At a time when the public should be encouraged to actively engage in debate and discussion about pressing global issues, the security measures that were put in place in Toronto in the lead up to the G20 Summit held in the city instead narrowed the space for civic expression and cast a chill over citizen participation in public discourse ..."

Well respected journalist Steve Paikin stated that he has lived in Toronto for 32 years and had never seen anything like this, and tweeted news as it was happening.
Journalist Steve Paikin, calling it an awful night for democracy, witnessed quite a bit in yesterday's demonstration(s), including being "escorted" away by police - so the police just started arresting people .... i stress, this was a peaceful, middle class, diverse crowd. no anarchists ... the demonstration on the esplanade was peaceful. it was like an old sit in. no one was aggressive. and yet riot squad officers moved in ... i saw police brutality tonight. it was unnecessary. they asked me to leave the site or they would arrest me. i told them i was dong my job ... ppl standing around with hands in air. this was peaceful. it won't be now. unprovoked attack by police ...
It was a horrible 72 hours for democracy, as ordinary peaceful civilians were intimated and beaten by police, while vandals were allowed free rein, only being rounded up after the fact. Yet these peaceful demonstrators must now share jail cells with ruffians and be painted with the same brush.

Was this an attempt to ensure that we never speak out now? When just the threat of this kind of behaviour by men and women in uniform will be enough to make us compliant citizens rather than concerned ones?

No Mr. Martin, Toronto does not have a black eye, only our country, and nothing can justify the expense or mobilization, of so many uniformed hooligans.

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