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I never broke the law, I AM THE LAW!
June 30, 2010 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Prior to the G20 last weekend in Toronto, the Government of Ontario met in a closed session. Police Chief Bill Blair announced on Friday June 25th that, in this session, a law was passed giving police new powers to demand identification from -- and conduct unwarranted searches of -- anyone approaching within 5 metres of the security fence that had been erected around the downtown core. This law was enforced all weekend; there were more than 900 arrests. Now that the G20 has passed and the proceedings of the closed government session are coming to light, it's become apparent that the law never existed at all. Bill Blair has now acknowledged that he made the whole thing up to "keep the criminals out."

Toronto G20: previously and previously and previously and previously.
posted by 256 (101 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
"This law was enforced all weekend, resulting in more than 900 arrests."

Hello dearest 900 lawsuits?
posted by uraniumwilly at 12:35 PM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sounds like Mr. Blair needs to be charged with over 900 counts of kidnapping and conspiracy.
posted by Babblesort at 12:35 PM on June 30, 2010 [43 favorites]


Ignorance of the law is no excuse. So, uh, we lied to you about it.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:36 PM on June 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ho. Lee. Shit. I'll be drinking this Canada Day with the intention of forgetting where I live.
posted by Kirk Grim at 12:37 PM on June 30, 2010


The implication in this FPP is that all 900 arrests would not have happened were it not for this reportedly non-existent law. I doubt that is the case.
posted by HuronBob at 12:37 PM on June 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wow Canada is actually managing to make the RNC in New York look reasonable by comparison.
posted by An algorithmic dog at 12:38 PM on June 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is indeed a fucked up situation, but this FPP is misleading -- the 900 arrests were not a result of enforcing the (non) law in question, which was said to apply to the zone of 5 metres beyond the fence, the fence having been supposedly deemed a 'public work' (ie this is why the police can ask for ID if you want to get into the legislature). Most of the protests never came close to the fence. The overwhelming majority of the arrests were for 'breach of the peace' (essentially failing to disperse when ordered, blocking streets, etc), and occurred across the downtown core, far from the fence.

(note: this is not a defence of the police's tactics this weekend, which were very disturbing to me, as a Toronto resident).
posted by modernnomad at 12:39 PM on June 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


To be clear, a law was passed in the closed session giving police special enforcement powers. You can view the actual regulation here.

The vital point was that, while Bill Blair represented the area covered by the law as extending 5m outside the security fence, the actual area mentioned was entirely inside the fence and rather smaller than the fenced area.

I didn't want to editorialize too much in the FPP, but there seems to be every indication that Bill Blair will keep his job and that the municipal and provincial governments will stand behind him. I'm less upset about the idea of extended police powers than I am by what this Police-Chief-as-Ersatz-Legislator situation means for the Canadian judicial and legislative system.
posted by 256 at 12:40 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


The implication in this FPP is that all 900 arrests would not have happened were it not for this reportedly non-existent law. I doubt that is the case.

the 900 arrests were not a result of enforcing the (non) law in question,


This may be true, but before we derail too much I'd suggest we might be missing the forest for the trees here. They made up a pretend law and acted on it.
posted by Kirk Grim at 12:41 PM on June 30, 2010 [23 favorites]


The overwhelming majority of the arrests were for 'breach of the peace'

Yep. And as I commented in another thread, it was always rather interesting that firsthand reports of police behaviour described coercion to "voluntary" comply with searches, rather than actually cite any new delegated authority.

The whole thing stank from the get-go. You do not put substantive police powers in Regulations, fer chrissake.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:42 PM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is indeed a fucked up situation, but this FPP is misleading -- the 900 arrests were not a result of enforcing the (non) law in question

Right, and sorry if that was misleading. 900 is the total number of arrests, some of which were a result of searches conducted using this fictional law. So far there is no definitive breakdown that I can find of how many of those 900 exactly fall into that category.
posted by 256 at 12:42 PM on June 30, 2010


Voluntarily, that is. Hasty edit.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:43 PM on June 30, 2010


Dispatches from the G20:
A Quiet Afternoon in Toronto :Riot police charge and strike at peaceful protesters.
Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? : Man has meltdown in front of shopping mall because mall locked doors for security reasons.
posted by crunchland at 12:45 PM on June 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


This law was enforced all weekend, resulting in more than 900 arrests.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. The vast majority of those arrested were nowhere near the fence, and their arrests were not a result of this regulation, either in its real form (which resulted in no arrests) or its purported form (which may have resulted in a few arrests - I haven't seen a firm number, though I recall reading 5 somewhere, but I can't find it).

That doesn't mean this is all okay. It's not okay that the Chief of Police might have been lying to the public about their legal rights, and it's not okay, as Adam Radwanski points out, that the Premier did nothing to clarify the situation when erroneous media reports of the new police powers started appearing widely last Friday.
posted by Dasein at 12:45 PM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


> All weekend there were reports of police stopping people throughout downtown Toronto — often in areas nowhere near the G20 zone — demanding identification and to search bags and backpacks.

Even if the "five metres" law had actually been passed (and now we find out it wasn't), I don't see how it could have applied to the cases I read about where people as far away as Bloor St. (and riding streetcars on College prior to the demonstration on Monday) were forced to show I.D. and turn over their possessions for warrantless searches. How does this not violate Section Eight of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:46 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This FPP is misleading for the reasons already pointed out. Few if any of the 900 arrests occurred within 5 metres of the security perimeter. Get your facts straight, please.

Also, the police did not invent the story. They issued a statement based on facts about the regulation that were provided by the Province, which mentioned the 5 metre rule. They later received clarification that in fact the rule was not in place, and failed to issue a public statement to correct the information that was being reported. I'm not saying that's okay, but there is a clear sequence of events.

Sorry if I'm cranky about this, but this situation pisses me off on so many levels. We don't need further misinformation adding to people's anger.
posted by dry white toast at 12:47 PM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is a very poorly worded FPP. The Star reported about the fake law. Who was their source? To me this story sounds like the cops and politicians didn't correct an erroneous story from the Star (still bad), not that they themselves spread this lie.
posted by chunking express at 12:49 PM on June 30, 2010


This FPP is misleading for the reasons already pointed out. Few if any of the 900 arrests occurred within 5 metres of the security perimeter. Get your facts straight, please.

Well, ok, to be fair: prior to this announcement, I think it was fairly presumed that the police were overreaching, applying police powers improperly but police powers that nonetheless existed, in a certain limited context. But (hint, hint), they never cited any such power at the time. I think it was definitely implied, however.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:49 PM on June 30, 2010


dry white toast, there's this statement from Blair in the linked CBC story (last link of the FPP):
When asked Tuesday if there actually was a five-metre rule given the ministry's clarification, Chief Bill Blair smiled and said, "No, but I was trying to keep the criminals out."
I'm not inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt because that sure doesn't sound like someone embarraassed to have misread an unclear bit of writing.

This whole thing sounds like a complete con. Blair was all over the damn media on Friday, announcing that this regulation gave the cops certain new powers, and the province couldn't say anything that day to clarify? Seriously?

(But yeah, as has been acknowledged, most of the 900 were arrested under different spurious charges, not this specific spurious charge. Not that this makes things much better.)
posted by maudlin at 12:55 PM on June 30, 2010


Also, yesterday tried to bolster their case about their tactics by inviting media to a display of the weapons seized from protesters during the G20. Except it turns out they weren't really.

The weapons on display included jousting gear seized from someone at Union Station that was on his way to a role-playing game that police had earlier acknowledged weren't meant to be used during the protests and a chainsaw seized on Friday in an incident unrelated to the G20.
posted by dry white toast at 12:55 PM on June 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

Ugh, I'm sick of this video popping up every few hours (in my life, not on MeFi). It would be hilarious, except dude is clearly not all there mentally, so on a weekend with so much insane shit going down, laughing at this guy seems a little cruel to me.
posted by yellowbinder at 12:55 PM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is a very poorly worded FPP. The Star reported about the fake law. Who was their source? To me this story sounds like the cops and politicians didn't correct an erroneous story from the Star (still bad), not that they themselves spread this lie.

Here is a CBC article quoting both Bill Blair and Sgt. Tim Burrows of the G8/G20 Integrated Security Unit claiming that the new regulation affected people who so much as approached the perimeter.

Anyway, I understand that this is a touchy topic, but I think that this particular instance warrants discussion. I tried very hard not to editorialize in the FPP but, if I have failed and someone wants to try a more even-handed post, I would gladly step aside.
posted by 256 at 12:56 PM on June 30, 2010


To me this story sounds like the cops and politicians didn't correct an erroneous story from the Star (still bad), not that they themselves spread this lie.

chunking express, Blair described and defended this regulation in multiple interviews last Friday. I heard him on the radio myself that morning.
posted by maudlin at 12:57 PM on June 30, 2010


maudlin, believe me I'm not giving them the benefit of the doubt. I'm just saying let's criticize them for the right things. Based on what's been reported this seems to be a sin of omission rather than one of commission.
posted by dry white toast at 12:58 PM on June 30, 2010


dude is clearly not all there mentally, so on a weekend with so much insane shit going down, laughing at this guy seems a little cruel to me.

Civil unrest affects everyone -- hipster, cop, anarchist, and innocent bystander alike. I think the guy is just upset, not necessarily mentally deficient.
posted by crunchland at 1:00 PM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


[edited the post per OPs request to not imply causation w/r/t arrests, carry on.]
posted by jessamyn at 1:11 PM on June 30, 2010


To be clear, a law was passed in the closed session giving police special enforcement powers.

Just to further clarify, the law giving police special enforcement powers dates to WW2, they simply extended the definition of what constitutes a "Public Works" (and thus included under this law) to include the area inside the fence. In reality, the new regulations included the area 5 metres inside, not outside the fence.

I couldn't possibly be more angry at Blair's tactics and outright deceit, but I think the issue benefits from a bit more clairty.
posted by Adam_S at 1:19 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I saw plenty of people, most of them under age 25, being on stopped, questioned and searched on Sunday. On Yonge, Queen, Dundas, College, Pape. Nowhere near the fence, nowhere near the summit or the politicians involved in it. Two unmarked vans moved up Yonge St. Every time I passed the vans someone was being detained on the sidewalk. So I don't know why people are getting excited about whether or not police had the authority to search anyone near the fence. The crackdown on anyone who looked like a protester happened far outside the zone covered by this law, it happened anywhere large teams of bored, frustrated and embarrassed cops were hanging out on corners.
posted by TimTypeZed at 1:20 PM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I heard him on the radio myself that morning.

I see, I missed all that. To be clear, I'm not too impressed with most of what happened over the weekend. I'm glad I fled to Scarborough.
posted by chunking express at 1:21 PM on June 30, 2010


It's not that the law itself was cited as the thing 900 people were charged with and arrested for, it's that the police took advantage of people's perception of the nonexistent law to search them with coerced consent.
posted by tehloki at 1:23 PM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


meta
posted by Artw at 1:33 PM on June 30, 2010


I get the impression that part of the G20 tradition revolves around leadership of the host nation making a show of civil force for its peers. This isn't just obligatory snark talking. I really think they see t as a validation of their legitimacy as participants. Something along the lines of "Hey if I can jail and beat back this many protesters then don't worry about my ability to pushing through our agenda. As you can see, it'll be cake."

I honestly can't see why else they would hold these conferences in major cities and capitols. Can you?
posted by clarknova at 1:33 PM on June 30, 2010


Blair is also starting to be in a bit of hot water with the LGBTQ community. Pride should be interesting this weekend.

PS, rally on Queen's Park tomorrow to demand an inquiry. 5:30pm. Pass it on.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:33 PM on June 30, 2010


Is it just me, or does it seem like they put these meetings together just so they can show just how out of control police can get?

Like, can't they have these meetings out at some town hall in the mid-west, 50 miles from anything?
posted by toekneebullard at 1:34 PM on June 30, 2010


O Canada. O my. I'm looking at you right now, and chanting, "One of US" over and over again.
posted by Mister_A at 1:35 PM on June 30, 2010


Oh, and what TimTypeZed and tehloki said x10.

And this in no way lets the Black Bloc morons off the hook. Thanks fuckers!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:35 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


[edited the post per OPs request to not imply causation w/r/t arrests, carry on.]

jessamyn, I was going to post this in metatalk, but cortex closed the thread (a bit prematurely, I think) - I think that causation is still strongly implied by the edited text. I'm not sure the best way to fix it; I think it was a seriously poor way to frame the issue in the first place, since we have no idea how many arrests were related to this new power.
posted by Dasein at 1:39 PM on June 30, 2010


"See that, Billy? It's just like I told you. Them foreign Canadian types will talk all day about how much they hate God's favorite country, th' USA – but when they get the chance, what do they do? They secretly try to be just like us."
posted by koeselitz at 1:40 PM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think it was a seriously poor way to frame the issue in the first place, since we have no idea how many arrests were related to this new power.

Yup and I'm not thrilled with it, but in a thread that's already got 40 comments retroactively changing the post has some serious drawbacks. People will need to read the comments.
posted by jessamyn at 1:44 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay.
posted by Dasein at 1:49 PM on June 30, 2010


Delete this, and put it in one of the open threads on this topic.
posted by fixedgear at 1:54 PM on June 30, 2010


Jessamyn wishes she had a mod coupe rather than a mod sedan right now.
posted by boo_radley at 1:58 PM on June 30, 2010


Dasein, the new (pseudo) law was used to coerce compliance with ID challenges, searches, etc. That's serious enough, whether or not there were any arrests made under this law.

I'm most taken with the general public's response (or lack thereof) to the hassles of the Toronto summit, in this post-9/11 era:

- little actual complaint about shutting down the downtown core as well as most public transportation that serves the core, not to mention the inconveniences during the set-up, expressway closures for motorcades. You heard some grousing about compensation from business owners, but most companies and people simply did their best to get the heck out of Dodge and avoid the nuisance.

- minimal complaints so far from the general public about the police lockdown and expanded powers (real or feigned) they had. Right now we're mainly hearing from the usual civil-rights groups.

Kind of sad, really. We've given up so much in the last several years - the economy, our liberty.
posted by Artful Codger at 2:05 PM on June 30, 2010


I saw plenty of people, most of them under age 25, being on stopped, questioned and searched on Sunday. On Yonge, Queen, Dundas, College, Pape. Nowhere near the fence, nowhere near the summit or the politicians involved in it. Two unmarked vans moved up Yonge St. Every time I passed the vans someone was being detained on the sidewalk. So I don't know why people are getting excited about whether or not police had the authority to search anyone near the fence. The crackdown on anyone who looked like a protester happened far outside the zone covered by this law, it happened anywhere large teams of bored, frustrated and embarrassed cops were hanging out on corners.

This also a function of people under 25 not really being sure of their rights, or knowing their rights and taking the (not unreasonable) calculation that given the situation that weekend, it was in their interest to co-operate.

There is nothing that stops police from stopping you and asking you where you are going or asking for your ID, or asking to look in your bag -- you are simply under no obligation to comply with any of those requests. If they want you to comply, they must 'detain' you, in legal parlance. In order to detain, they must have probable cause.

So the vast majority of those who were stopped and questioned did so 'voluntarily' -- I saw how the cops did it. "Where are you going?" "Can I look in your bag?". I was stopped myself at one point. They asked to look in my bag. I said "are you requiring me to comply"? They said "no." I said, "ok" and then showed them what is in my bag anyway, given that it was just a chicken breast from the shop and for some reason that made me chuckle.

Section 8 of the Charter doesn't stop cops from asking questions, it just stops them from forcing you to answer without reason, and if they do force you to answer with no reason, any evidence they obtain is inadmissible in court.

Too few Canadians know how the Canadian legal system works, and too many don't really understand the 'rights' they are claiming.

The discussion really ought to be on policy here -- the question is whether or we want a police force that acts in the way they did toward the citizens of the city they are sworn to protect and serve. Based on what I witnessed over the weekend, Blair ought to fall on his sword because it seems like it is his cock up.

(again, this doesn't go to other legal questions that might be raised, including treatment of those detained, and of excessive use of police force).
posted by modernnomad at 2:05 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know if it's coming through here, but not only did the cops not have the right to search within 5m of the wall or whatever, they most certainly did not have the right to search outside of that. In fact, they were demanding to search people all over Toronto during the G20 with the stated reason being that law which in reality didn't exist.

Plenty of grounds here for a lawsuit, I should think.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:08 PM on June 30, 2010


Canadian journalist and interviewer Steve Paiken expanded on his twitter comments about police violence he witnessed against a reporter today in the Ottawa Citizen
posted by HLD at 2:08 PM on June 30, 2010


Delete this, and put it in one of the open threads on this topic.

I did suggest to jessamyn that I was okay with the post being deleted if she thought that was best. That said, I think that the core story here ("Police chief announces secret law. Police enforce secret law. Police Chief admits law never existed.") is bigger than and separate from the other G20 issues. This isn't just a case of police overstepping their powers with intimidation or illegal searches(there are plenty of cases of that from the past weekend, and existing threads would be a good place to talk about them). This is a case of the police chief unabashedly circumventing the legislative process.

That story is the same regardless of how many people were arrested under the fictitious law specifically. And I do apologize for the poor wording in the original version and for the continued misleading implication in the corrected version. I suggested a more substantial edit to Jessamyn but worried (and she obviously agrees) that it would have rendered too many of the early comments nonsensical.
posted by 256 at 2:09 PM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Problem: Anarchists.
Solution: Suspend the rule of law.

Anyone else see a problem with this?
posted by doublehappy at 2:16 PM on June 30, 2010 [23 favorites]


That story is the same regardless of how many people were arrested under the fictitious law specifically.

I agree - even if nobody was arrested.

There was a fictitious law. People were uncertain as to their rights. Liberty was restrained.
posted by doublehappy at 2:19 PM on June 30, 2010


"The discussion really ought to be on policy here -- the question is whether or we want a police force that acts in the way they did toward the citizens of the city they are sworn to protect and serve. Based on what I witnessed over the weekend, Blair ought to fall on his sword because it seems like it is his cock up."

That's the bare minimum of what should happen. It sounds like there should a full inquiry with a report and blame portioned out to all the public servants who made this breakdown occur.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:27 PM on June 30, 2010


There was a fictitious law. People were uncertain as to their rights. Liberty was restrained.

What I find particularly galling about this story is how the police chief seems proud of the fact that he did this. His attitude is so brazen, and his excuse so lame, that it suggests to me that he's already had assurances that this entire affair will get swept under the rug, and he doesn't need to expend the effort to invent a particularly creative or convincing lie.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:28 PM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Section 8 of the Charter doesn't stop cops from asking questions, it just stops them from forcing you to answer without reason, and if they do force you to answer with no reason, any evidence they obtain is inadmissible in court.

I don't really understand what the benefit to society is of allowing police searches, etc. if you "consent". Why do we allow the police to try to trick people into giving up their rights? The police are in a position of power and they have much more legal knowledge than most people that they interact with. Why do we let them take advantage of this? Nobody is going to consent to a search if some random person walked up to them on the street and asked to look in their bag, yet we pretend that this is a reasonable thing for the police to do.

In this particular case, with riot cops, imaginary laws, tear gas, plastic bullets, and so on, can we really expect everyone to be willing to assert their rights? It was far too easy for the police to trade on fear to coerce searches. I'd rather live in a society where the police require probable cause to conduct any search.
posted by ssg at 2:35 PM on June 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


But the important thing is some rich douchebags got to meet up and laugh at the proles without being disturbed.
posted by Artw at 2:41 PM on June 30, 2010


If anyone here hasn't gone through 'on a knife edge' (the first "previously"), you should take a look, especially the first-hand accounts later in the thread.

"The cop dropped my back and grabbed my collar, pushing me up and into the wall behind me. He said:

"I don't care if you consent. We are not going to arrest you. We are not arresting anyone tonight. We are sending people to the hospital. You will be sent to the hospital. Do you want to go to the hospital?"

I am terrified and shaking. I say "OK, OK, I am not going to resist you. Look in my bag". I was quite terrified at this point. "

-- from The Wig
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:41 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, I think the fearful right-wingers who have warned for years about a world "police-state" government are seeing their fears realized. However, rather than resulting from some covert take over of individual governments by socialist do-gooders, what we are seeing is a hegemony of the rich and powerful over those without power and it is reflected in a uniformity of such tactics throughout the developed world. This is the real government: the one that uses force in this manner to maintain unwritten rules, not the one dreamed of in our laws and constitutions. These rules seem to be getting more and more subversive of civil rights without any meaningful push-back. The fact that all of our governments are separate is becoming irrelevant, because at the top those in control all belong to the same class, have the same goals, and operate under the same values and extra-legal rules.

This occurred to me two years ago at the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, where the police essentially functioned as event security for the party. They made sure none of the delegates were at all inconvenienced by protesters, especially avoiding any need for them to actually see or hear their protests. Designated areas for protesting were placed far from view of the convention and anyone who tried to get close to the publicly funded venue were swept up. Hundreds of people were arrested for not confining themselves to the ironically captioned "free speech zones". (Isn't that supposed to be the whole country? I guess the Constitution is just a piece of paper.) This seems to be standard procedure when the powerful get together to discuss how they're going to run things, no matter where you live.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:43 PM on June 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


> Blair ought to fall on his sword because it seems like it is his cock up.

Mixed metaphor alert.
posted by goethean at 2:54 PM on June 30, 2010


Despite all the searches, the chief still needed to pad his display of seized weapons with equipment seized from a Creative Anachronism gamer who made the mistake of travelling through Union Station Saturday morning.
posted by TimTypeZed at 2:54 PM on June 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


It just seems so alien, like something from Greece or Kyrgyzstan, not Toronto. I'm trying to imagine what it would feel like if this happened in my hometown, and just can't. No one should be allowed to get away this kind of abuse of authority in Canada, no matter who they are. If it's the Chief of Police, he should be sacked. If the provincial government allowed it, they should all share in the blame. The worst thing that can happen now is if people just think of the G20 as an isolated incident and forget about all the arrests, and a precedent is set for next time the government wants to crack down on someone.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:09 PM on June 30, 2010


Another fine data point: notwithstanding that about 600-700 of the arrested parties were released without charge, the final bill comes to about $10 million per arrest.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:24 PM on June 30, 2010


It just seems so alien, like something from Greece or Kyrgyzstan, not Toronto.

Not a lot of dots to be connected between APEC in 1997 and where we are today.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:35 PM on June 30, 2010


If I remember right, that "Sgt. Pepper" guy was forced into retirement, so there was some sort of acknowledgement that the police had gone too far. (Or some kind of repercussion for someone, at least.) So far it looks like the G20 security crackdown hasn't even risen to that level of public consciousness, where a majority of people have the uneasy feeling that something has gone wrong.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:43 PM on June 30, 2010


If it's the Chief of Police, he should be sacked. If the provincial government allowed it, they should all share in the blame.

Psssh, sacked? I vote we just punish all of them however we like (tar and feathers?), whether they are guilty or not, and tell them a new secret law says we're allowed to.
posted by Kirk Grim at 3:43 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I remember right, that "Sgt. Pepper" guy was forced into retirement

You may be confusing him with the Solicitor General, Andy Scott, who had to resign after being overheard on a plane by an NDP MP saying that Sgt. Pepper (Staff Sgt. Hugh Stewart) would "take the fall" for the mistakes in policing at the Summit.

Not a lot of dots to be connected between APEC in 1997 and where we are today.

You're right. APEC led police to realize that they need to be much better-prepared for protests. The pepper-spaying came about because police had to clear a road quickly, and they didn't have the numbers they needed to do so. They also made the mistake of holding the summit where there were a limited number of routes in and out.

So at Quebec City in 2001, they had lots more cops, and they protected the area with a fence. Then they stupidly stationed the thousands of cops behind the fence, allowing anarchists to get right up to the fence and attach grappling hooks to pull it down. They used copious amounts of tear gas to try to deal with the crowds, which was not very effective and so indiscriminate that it ended up gassing the delegates themselves.

So, fast forward to Toronto, and while I think serious questions need to be answered here, the policing was far, far more effective. I have no idea why the police on Saturday were unable to respond quickly to the rioting on Yonge St. and elsewhere; they should have arrested the rioters quickly and easily. But the truth is that the damage was not that widespread. The police never had to deal with threats to the fence itself, which spared the city a lot of tear gas and probably a lot of injuries from rubber bullets.

The searches of protesters congregating at parks - well, in part, that doesn't sit well with me, but on the other hand it almost certainly prevented weapons being taken into the protests. And the protesters have to assume a certain level of moral responsibility for refusing to condemn the violent elements at the protests or to work with the police to single them out. If violent protesters can just blend in with the complicity of the crowd, then the only way to keep police on the front lines safe is these sorts of broad searches. I'm not sure that it wasn't a reasonable trade-off of privacy vs. security. If police started doing it at every protest, that would one thing, but the unfortunate reality is that at protests like this there will be a few hundred people who want to destroy property and, if possible, attack police. Don't like your bag being searched? Don't go to a protest that refuses to condemn violence and exclude anarchist thugs.
posted by Dasein at 4:26 PM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


The police asked to search everyone coming into Allan Gardens before the Justice for Our Communities march on Friday, including me. TimTypeZed is right. Forget 5 metres, looking at a map I see that park is 3,000 metres away from the convention centre. The police told me that it was "for my own safety" and that I was required to submit to the search if I wanted to enter the public park. And this happened all over town, there is lots of video evidence of these types of conversations and searches.

This wasn't a mistake, it was an organized and blatant abuse of power. For me it really puts the lie to the idea that the police exist to serve the rule of law.

They are big fat liars and and their cars pants are on fire.
posted by Joad at 4:35 PM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is it just me, or does it seem like they put these meetings together just so they can show just how out of control police can get?

Like, can't they have these meetings out at some town hall in the mid-west, 50 miles from anything?


That doesn't really help. They just stop you getting there, then arrest you when you protest where you are.
posted by Jakey at 4:51 PM on June 30, 2010


Wow, Dasein, I don't know where to begin.

I'll start with this I guess:

the protesters have to assume a certain level of moral responsibility for refusing to condemn the violent elements at the protests or to work with the police to single them out

No they most certainly don't have to assume any responsibility for the actions of others. Look at the pictures of this rally and the placards. It's one of the reasons I can't get behind these G-whatever protests; there's no cohesive message or particular issue, just a lot of people with axes to grind against the G20 for any number of reasons. They show up having no idea who the other protesters are or what they stand for. And frankly, a lot of them did condemn the violence and Black bloc violence and confronted police about why they weren't doing anything about it. BTW your link is to an example of one person who categorically condemned violence of all kinds on the Wednesday prior to this protest. "Condemning violence" is a symbolic statement at best and would have changed nothing in practice.

If violent protesters can just blend in with the complicity of the crowd, then the only way to keep police on the front lines safe is these sorts of broad searches. I'm not sure that it wasn't a reasonable trade-off of privacy vs. security

Errr, how does that keep police safe or increase security? Were the searches effective? Did they manage to catch some people with black clothing who they can't tie to the damage in any way because they didnt bother to arrest them when they were bashing shit right in front of them? When they say the Black Bloc changes clothes and blends into the crowd, it doesn't mean a bunch of protesters hold towels up around them while they get changed like at the beach. Most of the protesters likely have no damned clue who they are. This is before we even get into the fact that a lot of people arrested (let alone searched) weren't even anywhere near the protest, or involved in any way.

Don't like your bag being searched? Don't go to a protest that refuses to condemn violence and exclude anarchist thugs.

How do you propose you "exclude anarchist thugs" from a public street? This is absurd. You're an apologist for some of the most outrageous police conduct I've ever heard of in Canada. They arrested twice as many people as in the October Crisis, including people ientified as journalists, and used a fake law as a pretext to conduct searches which they had no legal basis to do. WTF Dasein?
posted by Kirk Grim at 5:11 PM on June 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


BTW your link is to an example of one person who categorically condemned violence of all kinds on the Wednesday prior to this protest.

You can't be that tone-deaf, can you? This:

“I think that’s a silly question,” she replied. “Of course I’m against violence. I’m against all violence. I’m against police violence. I’m against gender violence. I’m against the violence of the poverty that people live with.”

Yes, I said, but are you against violent protest at the summit?

“I can’t answer a hypothetical question, sorry,” she replied.


Is obviously a coded apology for violence by protesters. And who you choose to associate yourself with matters. If you want to associate yourself with a protest whose leaders make an effort to identify and exclude violent elements, then that's one things. When you go to a protest whose organizers give a wink-wink nod-nod to violence, expect more police. Or if you want to claim that your march has no organizers, and you don't know who else is involved, then be prepared to have police take precautions in light of the fact that violent people are going to infiltrate your protest. There are protests all the time in Canada - these are highly unusual searches in the face of a much more violent than average protest.


Errr, how does that keep police safe or increase security?

If you can stop people bringing slingshots or whatever to march, it keeps police safe. In this march, I'm not aware of the crowd attacking police, but it happens all the time with anarchists in Europe and it certainly happened at Quebec City.

Did they manage to catch some people with black clothing who they can't tie to the damage in any way because they didnt bother to arrest them when they were bashing shit right in front of them?

This is a totally fair point - the police should have arrested people faster during the violence. But it's not a reason not to take precautions.


How do you propose you "exclude anarchist thugs" from a public street? This is absurd.

It's not. You set a tone from the top, and it trickles down. You say, you're not welcome, and if you come here, we will ask the police to remove you from our march. But the protest organizers didn't want to do that, because it's easier to abdicate moral leadership and then attack police later on.
posted by Dasein at 5:23 PM on June 30, 2010


This wasn't just police versus protesters. It was the police versus everybody: onlookers, pedestrians, motorists, the media, anyone who lived in downtown Toronto and happened to go outside at the wrong time, anybody who wore black clothes or who looked suspicious in any way. They were all harassed and detained without cause.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:22 PM on June 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


And the protesters have to assume a certain level of moral responsibility for refusing to condemn the violent elements at the protests or to work with the police to single them out.

I think dasein has a point with this. it's something I've been thinking about. the problem, as I see it, is the organizing principle that makes the coalition of wildly diverse activist groups present at these protests viable: solidarity. by extending solidarity with the working class to solidarity with other activist groups, they've managed to figure out how to work around the kind of internecine feuding that plagued the late nineteenth century avant garde and mobilize in huge numbers, no matter that nobody agrees with what anybody else is saying.

(or, as kirkgrim put it: "Look at the pictures of this rally and the placards. It's one of the reasons I can't get behind these G-whatever protests; there's no cohesive message or particular issue, just a lot of people with axes to grind against the G20 for any number of reasons. They show up having no idea who the other protesters are or what they stand for.")

the problem is that solidarity extends to covering for the black bloc. and I think it is a problem, because black bloc tactics do not reciprocate the gesture: they depend on taking advantage of peaceful protesters for cover, no matter that what they are doing actively works against the goals of the people keeping them from being arrested. maintaining solidarity isn't doing the peaceful people any good in this case, but the principle is too important for them to give up on it. it's a frustrating conundrum and I really, really wish more people would take a tough love approach to solidarity when it comes to this.
posted by spindle at 6:33 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I always have a real hard time with the whole "Group X must account for, prevent and apologize for the few bad people who infiltrate their ranks" mentality when it comes to just about any group (Muslims most often are subject to this, unfortunately), and for something as nebulous as "protesters" it's pretty much the same as saying, "If just one of you thousands of people who are anywhere near this event step out of line, expect the lot of you to get gassed, arrested, and shot with plastic bullets."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:37 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think you have the wrong idea about how these protests work. This is not a top-down management situation. People are not following the orders of the organizers at these events, nor is there any established leadership overseeing the whole event runs smoothly and is well-organized. The most you'll get is an idea of where and when you'll be marching. And I really cannot believe you seriously think a stern warning from a 20-year-old university student "organizer" is going to convince the Black Bloc to stay home.

My wife just showed me a video of a passer by tackling a black bloc asshole who was trying to loot a Bell store. Right into a pile of broken glass. He grabbed the stolen phone from his hand, threw it back in the shop and said "don't steal." So there's one example of some random guy doing exactly what you recommend to match your one example of a random woman not saying whatever magic words you think she should. Blackblocium Expelliarmus!
posted by Kirk Grim at 6:40 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


The fact is that activists find the violent fringe useful. Violence draws television cameras – if it bleeds, it leads – and cameras draw attention to the struggle. Activist leaders may not throw bricks themselves, but many will be quite content if others do.

from the Globe & Mail story dasein quoted. the columnist is wrong. "“different people taking different actions in the ways that they see fit.” -- this is solidarity speaking. off-camera, most activists I know are annoyed at how "if it bleeds, it leads" distracts from any substantial media engagement with the actual issues in question. it plays into the reactionary response to a protest by making it possible to dismiss people with legitimate concerns by lumping them in with the thugs and hoodlums.
posted by spindle at 6:42 PM on June 30, 2010


G20 Toronto Black Block get green light to rampage?
posted by homunculus at 6:52 PM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


SAT: Black Bloc rampages.
SUN: The Police rampages.
WED: Govt admits that the rule of Law is a figment of our imaginations.
posted by ovvl at 6:53 PM on June 30, 2010


I agree 1000% that Bill Blair has behaved like a power-crazed asshole, but I can't help but think that he was getting his orders from a higher power (i.e Mr. Harper's feds). Blaming Blair for everything feels like scapegoating. This was Harper's summit and I'm willing to bet it was largely his security plan from day one. I'm not suggesting we let Blair off the hook or anything, but I have this strong mental image of old Stephen holed up on Sussex drive reading all this anti-Blair stuff and rubbing his hands together saying "Excellent....excellent...exactly as planned!".
posted by Go Banana at 6:56 PM on June 30, 2010


Austin (FC) (Appellant) & another v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (Respondent)
posted by doublehappy at 6:58 PM on June 30, 2010


I always have a real hard time with the whole "Group X must account for, prevent and apologize for the few bad people who infiltrate their ranks" mentality when it comes to just about any group (Muslims most often are subject to this, unfortunately), and for something as nebulous as "protesters" it's pretty much the same as saying, "If just one of you thousands of people who are anywhere near this event step out of line, expect the lot of you to get gassed, arrested, and shot with plastic bullets."

to clarify. I don't think that solidarity with the black bloc justifies an over-the-top police response, I part company with dasein on that one. as per my subsequent post, my concern is that it makes for bad messaging and blunts the effectiveness of protest actions.
posted by spindle at 7:01 PM on June 30, 2010


I don't think that solidarity with the black bloc justifies an over-the-top police response, I part company with dasein on that one. as per my subsequent post, my concern is that it makes for bad messaging and blunts the effectiveness of protest actions.

But this is overlooking that a) as has been pointed out, this isn't exactly a well-organized event where attendees are carded to make sure no one from the Black Bloc gets in - it's a massive, thousands-strong potpourri of many, many different groups of people - and to expect that each and every Black Bloc protesters gets shut out is just unrealistic, and b) there actually are plenty of protesters who denounce, shout down, and push away these idiots. But as always, the burden on this enormous sea of people is on them to ensure that not a single person goes too far, and if it does happen, well, you brought the tear gas upon each and every one of you.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:07 PM on June 30, 2010


And the protesters have to assume a certain level of moral responsibility for refusing to condemn the violent elements at the protests or to work with the police to single them out.

Does this work both ways? Do all police officers bear a level of moral responsibility for any illegal arrests or unlawful detentions that may have happened? If an individual officer obeyed all the laws but refused to condemn unlawful behavior of their fellow officers, should they be facing penalties?
posted by Staggering Jack at 7:18 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


to clarify. I don't think that solidarity with the black bloc justifies an over-the-top police response, I part company with dasein on that one.

And also to clarify, as I said before, I am not totally comfortable with the way police acted; my comment was a response, though to this attitude that we're living in some kind of police state because of the searches. The rights of the protesters have to be balanced against the rights of all other citizens to be safe from bodily harm and property destruction, and the march organizers specifically refused to take steps to dissuade, denounce, identify or exclude violent protesters. I think that when we know an event is going to attract the most extreme, violent group of protesters Canada usually sees, and that's combined with the complicity of march organizers, the balance tilts towards preventive searches for potential weapons.
posted by Dasein at 8:09 PM on June 30, 2010


This wasn't just police versus protesters. It was the police versus everybody: onlookers, pedestrians, motorists, the media, anyone who lived in downtown Toronto and happened to go outside at the wrong time, anybody who wore black clothes or who looked suspicious in any way. They were all harassed and detained without cause.

I'm staying out of this thread because I'm just too messed up after this week to put any more effort into writing about it, but if it isn't clear, this is pretty much what the past week has been like downtown (except we weren't ALL harassed and detained without cause...). This is not hyperbole.

I am so thankful that I made it out of this week with no physical harm simply because I volunteered in a support role.
posted by avocet at 8:34 PM on June 30, 2010


But this is overlooking that a) as has been pointed out, this isn't exactly a well-organized event where attendees are carded to make sure no one from the Black Bloc gets in - it's a massive, thousands-strong potpourri of many, many different groups of people - and to expect that each and every Black Bloc protesters gets shut out is just unrealistic, and b) there actually are plenty of protesters who denounce, shout down, and push away these idiots. But as always, the burden on this enormous sea of people is on them to ensure that not a single person goes too far, and if it does happen, well, you brought the tear gas upon each and every one of you.

yes, of course. I don't disagree with these points at all. but in addition to that, there is also the fact that there are some nonviolent activists whose efforts are effectively hindered by the black bloc and who nonetheless stand in solidarity with them. the keyword to find this internal debate is diversity of tactics.

I have been googling for links. most of the people who are writing in support of diversity of tactics sound suspiciously like the black bloc and it warms my heart how many people are pushing back, all of which I probably should have expected. but diversity of tactics is still widely practiced (like the Heart Attack action at the Vancouver Olympics), and I'm reasonably confident that I'm not spouting nonsense when I argue that the black bloc are using the shared principle of solidarity as a way to secure a place, both literally and rhetorically, within the largely nonviolent activist community, and that this is not doing the nonviolent people any good.
posted by spindle at 8:52 PM on June 30, 2010


avocet, I have friends who were arrested and detained for showing up at a press conference. it was a long, hard week -- I'm glad to hear you got through it in one piece.
posted by spindle at 8:56 PM on June 30, 2010


I have a journalist friend who had a cop car posted outside his house all night because he said he said he would be attending our press conference on Twitter.
posted by avocet at 9:52 PM on June 30, 2010


I hate to sound ignorant here - I mean, I am Canadian and should know my laws, although I'm living in the U.S. now, but I'm confused - is (sorry, 'was') this revoking search and seizure? How is this different than every day law on the books before the G20? So the Charter says 'everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure' - this law seems to violate the Charter, but perhaps there are Charter violations all the time we don't know about. I can see the slippery slope argument, where one has to protect society from a descent into a police state - but I'm trying to figure out how this is balanced in extraordinary circumstance... and which is the bigger problem, the expanded police powers or the law passed in secret (an 'order-in-council, with no debate in the Legislature') which sort of worries me more. Am I understanding this all? Is the problem the law, the exacting of it by the police, that it was done in secret, that were so many arrests (ironically enough, for disturbing the peace), or the whole damn thing?

I hate how I sound so ignorant here, but I don't think about the laws on a day to day level, y'know? Maybe I should now.
posted by rmm at 10:55 PM on June 30, 2010


The rights of the protesters have to be balanced against the rights of all other citizens to be safe from bodily harm and property destruction, and the march organizers specifically refused to take steps to dissuade, denounce, identify or exclude violent protesters. I think that when we know an event is going to attract the most extreme, violent group of protesters Canada usually sees, and that's combined with the complicity of march organizers, the balance tilts towards preventive searches for potential weapons.

First off, I am aware of no cases where the black bloc or any other G20 protesters assaulted anyone (unless you count the guy who tackled the looter trying to steal a phone from Bell). To my knowledge this is typical of black bloc actions in Canada: it is extremely rare for black bloc folks to assault anyone who is not a cop. So the talk of "bodily harm" is a red herring.

Second, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not include a right for corporations not to have their property vandalized. It does include freedom from unreasonable search and seizure (e.g. getting searched simply because you're wearing black or in a part of town that cops are watching but haven't actually restricted access to), freedom from arbitrary detention and imprisonment, freedom of peaceful assembly, and security of the person. What we are "balancing" is a few broken windows and two burnt cop cars, on the one hand, and the fundamental civil rights of thousands of people on the other.
posted by twirlip at 11:55 PM on June 30, 2010


Is the problem the law, the exacting of it by the police, that it was done in secret, that were so many arrests (ironically enough, for disturbing the peace), or the whole damn thing?

If we're talking about the secret law that was used to turn the area within 5 metres of the "red zone" into a rights-free zone, then I would say the whole damn thing is the problem, from beginning to end.

But I want to clarify something, because I think you might be conflating a few separate issues. The problem isn't just that secret law, which merely gave the cops a legal pretext to search and arrest anyone who refused to identify themselves or explain their presence within 5 metres of the red zone. The cops also arrested -- and, in a number of cases, violently assaulted -- hundreds of peaceful protesters, journalists, and innocent bystanders, which violates several of the Charter rights I mentioned above. Some people were randomly snatched from the peaceful crowd outside the detention centre and pulled into unmarked police vehicles, which is traumatizing and unnecessary as well as a violation of the right of peaceful assembly. There was inhumane treatment of detainees, up to and including sexual assault (inappropriate touching and unnecessary strip searches of female arrestees by male cops). Those are all problems that go beyond the secret law.
posted by twirlip at 12:16 AM on July 1, 2010


The worst thing that can happen now is if people just think of the G20 as an isolated incident and forget about all the arrests, and a precedent is set for next time the government wants to crack down on someone.

This is precisely what will happen, unfortunately.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:36 AM on July 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


To my knowledge this is typical of black bloc actions in Canada: it is extremely rare for black bloc folks to assault anyone who is not a cop.

Second, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not include a right for corporations not to have their property vandalized.


The protection of police officers is a perfectly reasonable ground on which to conduct a search, as is the protection of property, even if it's owned by big evil corporations. The terrified employees huddled in the basement of stores getting their windows smashed in might feel that their right to security of the person matters, too. And guess who's going to be picking up the tab for all those broken windows? You and me, when the federal government compensates businesses for taking the colossally stupid decision to host this thing in downtown Toronto.

You also mention freedom of peaceful assembly - something which a lot of protesters claim for themselves but would deny to elected leaders (well, G20, so elected or otherwise) attempting to peacefully assemble themselves. The day that there aren't people dedicated to attacking these meetings will be the day a massive police presence isn't required. Unfortunately, that day will never come.

With respect to other issues - yes, if the police assaulted protesters unlawfully, or conducted improper strip searches, then they should be held accountable. I'm not laying down a blanket defence of all police actions - Steve Paiken is a very credible journalist and his account is pretty damning. One problem in holding police to account is that if they just release people without charge, then a civil suit or police complaint is the only way to have this come out, and people often just want to get on with their lives.
posted by Dasein at 12:39 AM on July 1, 2010


Having been spared the whole fracas in Toronto by living in London, it's a bit harder for me to get as worked up as I know I otherwise would be.

I find this makes me quite disappointed with Bill Blair, though. If anyone remembers the previous chief of police, Julian Fantino, you'd realize what a shining knight Blair was in comparison. With discount-furniture-salesman-cum-mayor Mel Lastman and Fantino not running the city as their personal playground anymore, it seemed like things were looking up. I guess it couldn't last.
posted by Jon-A-Thon at 12:42 AM on July 1, 2010


Those are all problems that go beyond the secret law.

No. Those problems are a consequence of the 'secret law'. There are two issues here:
1. Laws should be, at the very least, clear, consistent, and knowable. The law of Canada during the G20 conference was none of these things; and

2. A limb of the executive responsible for enforcement of particular laws, the police

a. made a false statement of law, effectively bypassing the proper process; and

b. actively acted in contravention of existing law reached through the proper process.
Former Police Chief Bill Blair has surely precipitated a constitutional crisis. If he hasn't, then Canada's opposition parties and media aren't doing their job, and Canada is no longer a functioning democracy.
posted by doublehappy at 12:49 AM on July 1, 2010


Some follow-up from Chief Blair

He essentially suggests he misinterpreted the law and then forgot to tell the public upon realizing his mistake: "I confess, my attention turns elsewhere".

Also, "Quite obviously, the [controversial law] by Friday afternoon is irrelevant to our security measures at this point, because we’re now dealing with a far different situation.”
posted by Adam_S at 5:57 AM on July 1, 2010


The protection of police officers is a perfectly reasonable ground on which to conduct a search, as is the protection of property, even if it's owned by big evil corporations.

Those are not perfectly reasonable grounds for the over-broad searches that the cops actually conducted (and for what it's worth, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association appears to agree with me on this). Nor are they grounds for arbitrarily arresting, mistreating, and assaulting hundreds of people who weren't breaking any laws. The cops' behavior was way, way in excess of any legitimate security need.

And guess who's going to be picking up the tab for all those broken windows?

This is not a reason to suspend fundamental liberties.

You also mention freedom of peaceful assembly - something which a lot of protesters claim for themselves but would deny to elected leaders (well, G20, so elected or otherwise) attempting to peacefully assemble themselves.

That is obviously a false equivalence. Besides, as I understand it, the Charter codifies a right to assemble peacefully without interference from the state. If a bunch of people in clown suits disrupt a KKK rally, that's not a violation of the KKK's right of peaceful assembly.
posted by twirlip at 7:15 AM on July 1, 2010


Second, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not include a right for corporations not to have their property vandalized.

This is true. I believe the criminal code covers this quite nicely.
posted by antifuse at 7:31 AM on July 2, 2010


The protection of police officers is a perfectly reasonable ground on which to conduct a search, as is the protection of property, even if it's owned by big evil corporations.

Sure. IF YOU HAVE CAUSE. They rounded people up willy-nilly, in some cases assaulted them, and imprisoned them. Including identified members of the press. There is absolutely no excusing what these criminals did, not the Black Bloc's actions the day before or an imagined threat to 20,000 armored police officers armed to the teeth. That much of this was caught on camera and well-documented makes your position absolutely mystifying.

The terrified employees huddled in the basement of stores getting their windows smashed in might feel that their right to security of the person matters, too

Cite please.
posted by Kirk Grim at 1:20 PM on July 2, 2010


Wait, everyone! It is all right! Bill Blair set an anonymous citizen straight on the TPS website: the citizen objected to the police tactics, Chief Blair called him naive and uninformed, and then the citizen felt shame and apologized! Mission accomplished!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:34 PM on July 2, 2010


More than 40 businesses were damaged during the G20 riots. Many of them are independent stores owned by immigrants. They tell us the stories behind the broken glass.
posted by modernnomad at 7:41 AM on July 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


The terrified employees huddled in the basement of stores getting their windows smashed in might feel that their right to security of the person matters, too

Cite please.


Here you go
posted by antifuse at 9:37 AM on July 3, 2010


Ugh, helps if I click other people's links before posting teh same ones, I suppose. :/
posted by antifuse at 9:38 AM on July 3, 2010


To be fair, it would be nice if the cops hadn't been elsewhere trying to arrest people for standing around in the street and singing. It sucks that some violent people caused damage, but what's odd is that the police seem to have been willfully hoping that happened so they'd have an excuse to do what they did. The whole thing about them leaving cop cars around to get torched really pisses me off – in what world does that make any kind of sense for actual protection of property and life? If the police had been organized and focussed on doing their goddamned job, nobody's shop or storefront would've gotten damaged. That's not to say that the people doing the damage weren't directly responsible, but isn't it the job of the police to prevent that from happening? And didn't we hear plenty of bluster and bravado about the terrible things the protesters were going to do before all this went down? Frankly, the protesters were about 10% as bad as the cops said they'd be, and the police still failed to contain them. One wonders if they were even trying to do anything but look like thugs and make arrests.
posted by koeselitz at 11:12 AM on July 3, 2010


Here you go

Whoops, you're right. Sorry; I'd been hearing what got smashed was Starbucks and American Apparel and other chain stores; my impression was they were empty due to the G20.

Yes, they have every reason to demand protection of their property, but that in no way justifies what the police did. That's NOT what the police did; they acted after the damage was done in a different location against anyone that looked at them funny or was in the wrong place at the wrong time. This protected no one. I can think of no parallel where the fact a crime was committed means you can just round people up at random and beat them or lock them up.
posted by Kirk Grim at 4:13 PM on July 5, 2010


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