On a knife edge
June 26, 2010 1:05 PM   Subscribe

Live Blog of the G20 Protest in Toronto

Isolated bands of protesters are trying to break through police lines around the G20 summit. The mood has "shifted" as of about 330pm, it seems.
posted by modernnomad (398 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
There were several protests going on today. Of course, the media is only focusing on the "cool" burning car one. THere are lots of peaceful protestors out there, from the GTA and it would have been nice if the media had recognised their voices too..
posted by saucysault at 1:13 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I regret all my G20 jokes over the last few weeks now. Evidently a billion dollars is not enough.
posted by tracert at 1:13 PM on June 26, 2010


4:04 katie_hewitt: Young girl to security guard "Oh there's like a riot? can we shop?"
posted by enn at 1:13 PM on June 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


THere are lots of peaceful protestors out there, from the GTA and it would have been nice if the media had recognised their voices too..

Let that be a lesson - peaceful protest doesn't accomplish anything.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:19 PM on June 26, 2010 [18 favorites]


Guys, I don't know about you, but I almost died laughing reading this:

"There is a man with a hammer, he is taking out windows. " and that's how the blog entry ended.
posted by joni. at 1:21 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Of course. Peaceful protests have never accomplished anything. How silly.
posted by cavalier at 1:21 PM on June 26, 2010


Two cop cars are on fire. photo
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:24 PM on June 26, 2010


I don't understand this protest at all. The smashing, I mean.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 1:26 PM on June 26, 2010


U.S. and Ghana are in extra time, tied 1-1. Wait.
posted by swift at 1:27 PM on June 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Not anymore!
posted by gman at 1:29 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


These people are fucking morons. Throw every damn one of them in jail.

There is now no subway service south of bloor and zero streetcars are running. Fucking idiots.
posted by dobbs at 1:31 PM on June 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I just took a walk near the protests, and it seems as thought the police are sitting back and letting windows etc be smashed.. they are just directing the flow of the protest by blocking off certain streets.. this seems to be annoying some of the protesters who are hoping for more of a response.

I should also add that the vast majority of the protesters have nothing to do with the turn to violence -- it is a band of black-clad and face-covered folks who very much seem to have been agitating for a fight all day. It will be interesting to see how long the police hold to their hands-off approach.
posted by modernnomad at 1:33 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


These people are fucking morons. Throw every damn one of them in jail.

I agree, whoever decided that this ridiculous boondoggle would take place in the downtown core of Canada's most populated city should be locked u- oh you meant the violent protesters, that works too I guess
posted by threetoed at 1:35 PM on June 26, 2010 [18 favorites]


I don't understand this protest at all. The smashing, I mean.

It's not everyone, just these fools running around smashing shit. Also they really hate Starbucks it seems. They already smashed up the one near where I work. Now I will be forced to drink office machine coffee on Monday I bet. Truly the greatest tragedy of today.
posted by tracert at 1:35 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


A great "fuck you!" to the protesters, or whoever decided to base the protest at Queen's Park.

All the mess is happening right at the hospital core of Toronto. By having the (very disruptive) protests there, they are putting patients at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto General Hospital, Mt. Sinai Hospital, Princess Margaret hospital all at risk, by making access difficult, both for people that may need care, as well as for doctors, nurses and staff which is necessary to provide such care.

Why not base the protests at Coronation park?
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 1:36 PM on June 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


"There is a man with a hammer, he is taking out windows. " and that's how the blog entry ended.

That's a Cake lyric, isn't it?
posted by One Thousand and One at 1:36 PM on June 26, 2010 [17 favorites]


It is a band of black-clad and face-covered folks

They were in Vancouver during the Olympics too, on the first Saturday after the opening. They dubbed their protest Olympic Heart Attack, smashed windows in downtown Vancouver and grabbed shopping bags from the visiting tourists. These protesters were gone later that weekend, all other demonstrations did not involve masks, or this level of violence.
posted by seawallrunner at 1:39 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mayor of Toronto David Miller:

“This isn’t our Toronto,” Mr. Miller told CP24. “My response is anger. We have thousands of people peaceably asserting their democratic right to speak up. And a relatively small group, probably a few hundred, mostly people who seem to be not from Toronto, come here on all evidence to commit deliberate acts of violence. I think all Torontonians should outraged by that."

posted by modernnomad at 1:40 PM on June 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


And yeah, Harper is indeed a complete idiot for deciding to hold his circle jerk in downtown Toronto.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 1:40 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


God this live blog is just heartbreaking. I'm so so sorry this is happening to you, Toronto.
posted by threetoed at 1:40 PM on June 26, 2010


Having the G20 in Toronto is fucking stupid as fuck. Fucking fuck.

"Oh, the economy's struggling? Ooh, I know, let's lock down the nation's most populous city for several days and turn it into a free-for-all smash party! And let's spend a billion dollars on it! That oughta fix that!"

The police have been actively hyping up how much power they would be wielding on every news show for a good three months solid. They might as well have come right out and dared people to riot.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:42 PM on June 26, 2010 [21 favorites]


The world's most expensive game of Red Rover. Right now it appears to be a shining example of what an impotent bureaucracy the Police Force here is. A billion dollars, tens of cops sunbathing on every corner for days, and they're letting a few goons run crazy on the city. They'll put a Lucky Moose, arrest some old lady for littering after all the windows on the streets have been shattered.
posted by TimTypeZed at 1:42 PM on June 26, 2010


A great "fuck you!" to the protesters, or whoever decided to base the protest at Queen's Park.

That would be the police. The 'official' protest zone was originally supposed to be in Trinity Bellwoods but was moved to Queen's Park after a community outcry.
posted by heatherann at 1:44 PM on June 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


You go too far, protester jerks. Then again...
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:45 PM on June 26, 2010


They smashed American Apparel and ripped apart the mannequins. Protesters hate hipsters!
posted by joni. at 1:46 PM on June 26, 2010


A great "fuck you!" to the protesters, or whoever decided to base the protest at Queen's Park.

Queen's Park is the designated Free Speech Zone, so, yeah. The people to blame probably all work there.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:47 PM on June 26, 2010


Why not? The corporatist oligarchs are getting exactly what they want here, which is the continued discrediting of the anti-neoliberal movement in general.

The rooters either work for the oligarchs or might as well. Fools.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:47 PM on June 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


Trinity Bellwoods is a residential area, pretty much. That would have been another kind of hell on innocent people.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 1:47 PM on June 26, 2010


Ooh, they're using tear gas now. Crazy stuff.

From the blog:

Gord Smith, general manager at the Yonge and Dundas Adidas store that was just destroyed by protesters says no one inside was hurt.
The police gave them enough warning to get all the customers out and about 10 employees were in the store.
Mr. Smith has been general manager at this location for a little over a year. He seems upset, but resigned.
"Well it already happened so what can you do?" he said.


Good attitude.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:48 PM on June 26, 2010


You'd think those idiot protesters would understand that violence isn't the answer.
posted by larry_darrell at 1:49 PM on June 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


It pisses me off. There are a lot of people there protesting peacefully and with legitimate cause, whose voices are being drowned out by these jackasses.
posted by futureisunwritten at 1:53 PM on June 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Fight almost breaks out on Queen with people talking on the radio in a trashed police car. Crowd tells them to calm down.

Very Canadian.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:56 PM on June 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


It almost seems there needs to be an organized effort from the non violent protesters to surround and stifle the window smashers. Or something... sigh.
posted by edgeways at 1:56 PM on June 26, 2010


Ugh! These "blac block" twerps give me heartburn
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:56 PM on June 26, 2010


Police constable from the Integrated Security Unit just said on CP24 that this is the first time tear gas has ever been deployed in Toronto.
posted by tracert at 1:57 PM on June 26, 2010


I slept in and missed the meetup
posted by avocet at 1:57 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the liveblog:

annhui:
Guy in led zeppelin just threw a wooden stick at riot police and immediately ran away. Others yell "don't throw shit!


I'm betting on Robert Plant, but I think John Paul Jones could get a little feisty too, if provoked.
posted by greatgefilte at 2:00 PM on June 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


Ian Johnson:
We're trying to get confirmation of this, CTV is reporting that the burned police cruiser was a decoy placed there to attract the protesters and limit damage to real cars.


Sheesh!
posted by bewilderbeast at 2:00 PM on June 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wish the tweetpics and tweeter updates came with GPS coords ... my girlfriend will be starting her shift at the Hospital for Sick Children in a couple of hours and it would be nice to know what the situation is like between the hospital and her apartment.

I am stupidly out of town.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 2:01 PM on June 26, 2010


We're trying to get confirmation of this, CTV is reporting that the burned police cruiser was a decoy placed there to attract the protesters and limit damage to real cars.

I've seen a few reports that cop cars were basically left abandoned in front of the protesters as they marched up the street. It makes me wonder if the powers that be might have felt a little 'burning cop car' type action would take the heat off the billion dollar price tag.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:03 PM on June 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wish the tweetpics and tweeter updates came with GPS coords ... my girlfriend will be starting her shift at the Hospital for Sick Children in a couple of hours and it would be nice to know what the situation is like between the hospital and her apartment.

I am stupidly out of town.


So what would you do with that information?
posted by pick_the_flowers at 2:04 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]




Guy in led zeppelin just threw a wooden stick at riot police and immediately ran away. Others yell "don't throw shit!

I'm betting on Robert Plant, but I think John Paul Jones could get a little feisty too, if provoked.


Ummm. "wooden stick?" it's obviously the ghost of John Bonham.
posted by jonmc at 2:06 PM on June 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


We're trying to get confirmation of this, CTV is reporting that the burned police cruiser was a decoy placed there to attract the protesters and limit damage to real cars.

Ah, the "I meant to do that" gambit.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:13 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


So what would you do with that information?

You are right. I should just turn off the TV, shut down the computer, and pretend nothing is happening.

Sorry if I though the protests would remain focused around, you know, where the G20 is happening, and would not potentially endanger people I care about. For a while I though about trying to figure out how close the violent protests were to the hospital where she works, and to the place where she lives, just to get an idea how much risk she is running.

Thanks for setting me straight!
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 2:14 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


my girlfriend will be starting her shift at the Hospital for Sick Children in a couple of hours and it would be nice to know what the situation is like between the hospital and her apartment.

Is she travelling west or east? It'll probably be easier to get there from the west end than to have to go over Yonge Street.

I imagine the situation on University will have changed in a couple of hours.
posted by heatherann at 2:14 PM on June 26, 2010


She is between Bay and Yonge on Elm, and will be heading west for just a couple of blocks, but if that is on the thick of it ...
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 2:17 PM on June 26, 2010


Who's all for a teleconference next year?
posted by Hiker at 2:19 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


More photos.
posted by dobbs at 2:20 PM on June 26, 2010


Here's my way to save $1 Billion dollars in security for next time.

Have the G8 leaders were bobble-head likenesses of themselves and let them wander freely with no guard.

You're welcome.
posted by mazola at 2:22 PM on June 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


She is between Bay and Yonge on Elm, and will be heading west for just a couple of blocks, but if that is on the thick of it ...

Theycallitpeace, much of the protesters are now at Queen's Park and are somewhat hemmed in by police. We're at Bay/College (ensconced a dozen floors above the fray, though). I think she should be ok sneaking along Elm for a few blocks, but should wear street clothes just to avoid drawing attention to herself in scrubs. All throughout the protests they seem to have been leaving individuals on the streets alone, and plenty of people were walking about and taking pictures and whatnot.
posted by dnesan at 2:35 PM on June 26, 2010


Ghana wins! America is eliminated!
posted by swift at 2:36 PM on June 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can we change ther terminology being used here?

The people causing damage aren't protesting, they are rioting.

One is peaceful, with a message (effectual or not), and was coordinated in advance with police. The other is endangering people and property.
posted by dry white toast at 2:37 PM on June 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the info , dnesan.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 2:42 PM on June 26, 2010


5:43
annhui -  Group of protesters started singing "Oh Canada" at riot cops. #g20

Which is a better national anthem than Star Spangled Banner by at least a kilometer.
posted by fixedgear at 2:49 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ghana wins! America is eliminated!

Whew! Now hapless US soccer fans in Toronto not paying attention to anything but soccer are saved the mistake of driving around here waving American flags and honking their horns right now, as happens when just about any team wins a game.
posted by KS at 2:51 PM on June 26, 2010


The people causing damage aren't protesting, they are rioting.

Protests can be peaceful or violent. "Protest" is a blanket term used to describe actions done in opposition or reaction to something. Just because you don't like the methods doesn't mean the meaning of the term changes.
posted by ellehumour at 2:51 PM on June 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Whew! Now hapless US soccer fans in Toronto not paying attention to anything but soccer are saved the mistake of driving around here waving American flags and honking their horns right now, as happens when just about any team wins a game.

Purely hypothetical situation, of course, as the roadside vendors don't sell American flags.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 2:57 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hate pretty much everything about this.

I hate that it was dumped in our laps by a government that nearly nobody in this city supports, without any real consultation with the people who actually live here.

I hate the cost of the whole thing (One Billion Dollars? Seriously? Did Dr. Evil plan this?)

I hate that I am prevented from moving freely throughout the city I live in. I hate that my parents (who live downtown) are being put at significant inconvenience and risk.

I hate that secret laws have been passed by our provincial government to limit the freedom of citizens in this city, laws that very likely violate the Charter.

I hate that legitimate protest has been stigmatized, both by actions and statements from the police and the government leading up to today, and by a violent fringe today.

I hate that many of the legitimate protests represent a genuine distrust of the democratic process and representative government, one in which people feel that they've been alienated from their own leaders, in favor of various other interests whose influence exceeds that of citizens.

Finally, I hate these little "Black Bloc" shits running around trying to fuck things up. How dare you come into my city, smash a bunch of shit, and give the cops a reason to beat legitimate protesters and turn my city into a lockdown area. If any of you little fucks come running through Kensington when the cops chase you out of the downtown, you'd better have some fucking eyes on the back of your heads...those of you that aren't RCMP or similar.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:00 PM on June 26, 2010 [22 favorites]


More photos.

I'm confused, is the chick with a dick getting a blowjob a cop or a protester?
posted by homunculus at 3:05 PM on June 26, 2010


The People's Summit provides an open, democratic discussion of global politics and issues.

The Dominion on community-based responses to the G8/G20.

Hotel workers in Toronto go on strike.
posted by ellehumour at 3:10 PM on June 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm working a till in Yorkville right now, and you can't even tell that anything is going on a kilometre south of us. Here's hoping it doesn't get any farther north.

And yeah, seconding TheWhiteSkull's laundry list of rage. Haec merda bananae est.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 3:11 PM on June 26, 2010


Oh, and I hate Harper's stupid lake. I saw it last night on TV. It looks fucking ridiculous.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:16 PM on June 26, 2010


Why not? The corporatist oligarchs are getting exactly what they want here, which is the continued discrediting of the anti-neoliberal movement in general.

Everybody gets what they want from these things. The oligarchs get their meetings, the politicos get their photo-ops, the dudes in black get a whole bunch of headlines.

Are we missing anybody?
posted by philip-random at 3:25 PM on June 26, 2010


*raises hand*
posted by mazola at 3:27 PM on June 26, 2010


Are we missing anybody?

Yeah, most people. The citizens of Toronto who never wanted to put up with this in the first place; the peaceful protesters who think things should be done differently; the rest of the world who is having their view of Canada altered by biased media coverage.

It's probably too much to ask, but instead of focusing on the made-for-TV drama and giving it life, couldn't the networks find a few minutes of coverage to talk to a few of the people out there voicing protest peacefully, who've spent time trying to understand the issues and organized in the hopes of having a voice?
posted by Hiker at 3:31 PM on June 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Security Theatre

Alas.
posted by vectr at 3:50 PM on June 26, 2010


CBC radio interviewed an alleged member of the Black Bloc at around 4pm EDT. He largely avoided most of their questions regarding whether he supported the burning of police cars and smashing of windows of mostly small businesses who have absolutely nothing to do with global corporations. He instead loudly stated "we haven't injured anyone. there has been no violence." (Absolute lies) Then he further stated that Starbucks was the largest pro-zionist corporation in the world and that Israel was the most violent and dangerous country in the world.

I had never heard this before and did a bit of Googling and discovered that this moron appears to be referring to what has repeatedly been referred to as a satirical and fake document:

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArchiveDetails.aspx?ID=85813

This Black Bloc group appear to just want to show up in numerous international cities whenever they feel like it and smash and burn everything.

I hope they get detained, charged, convicted and at the very least imprisoned.

Also: where did the Black Bloc members buy their clothing? Where do they buy their food?

It angers me to see this happen in my own city.

ad
posted by adamd1 at 3:57 PM on June 26, 2010


It's not everyone, just these fools running around smashing shit. Also they really hate Starbucks it seems. They already smashed up the one near where I work

My then-girlfriend (now-wife) used to work at a Starbucks on Rideau St in Ottawa many years ago, back when these guys presumably first read No Logo and decided smashing windows was fun. There was some sort of protest going on and Starbucks (unlike all the other local businesses) decided to ignore it and stay open. I was a little worried for her so I spent a whole bunch of the day down there drinking coffee and reading. Turned out the cops were in and out all day getting coffees so my concern was misplaced.

Earlier that day on the news I saw a bunch of the bandannas-and-black-hoodies guys throwing rocks at McDonalds and breaking windows on Bank St. Later on, a bunch of tired black-clad dudes showed up at my wife's Starbucks, black bandannas now lowered and hanging around their necks, and ordered a round of Frappucinos while the riot squad was about a block away.
posted by Kirk Grim at 4:10 PM on June 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


Are we missing anybody?

All apologies. That whole comment of mine reads as more cynical than intended. Or maybe it just betrays a depth of cynicism I didn't know I had toward these things, having endured a few in my time (never as a participant, always just the bystander trying to carry on with everyday life).

but instead of focusing on the made-for-TV drama and giving it life, couldn't the networks find a few minutes of coverage to talk to a few of the people out there voicing protest peacefully,

This speaks to the real issue rather well. Unfortunately, the answer seems to be, "No, the networks can't find the time to cover the peaceful arguments, because, IF IT BLEEDS, IT LEADS remains the governing mindset at the various editorial desks where such calls are made."

So do we (the collective WE who are not oligarchs, politicos or dudes in black) just give up, curl up into little balls of despair and let the various misfits, loonytunes and squalid criminals enact their dubious theatrics across our streets and TV screens? Of course not. What we do is wise up with regard to the organization of our "protest culture" and maybe not so naively provide such fertile ground for the kind of bullshit currently going down.
posted by philip-random at 4:19 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kirk Grim: Did she hear them speak? Did they have accents? Who are they?
posted by Trochanter at 4:25 PM on June 26, 2010


So easy to blame the radicals, for they are the little cuts and burns on the skin of the system; the painless cancer that is eating your heart will for ever be grateful for the distraction.
posted by zarah at 4:52 PM on June 26, 2010 [26 favorites]


Well, a bunch of random jackasses (not protesters) have just set a police car on fire at Queen and Spadina, and the cops are pushing people off of Queen's Park and towards my parents' house. I think most of the people at Queen's Park are pretty peaceful, but this really sucks.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:08 PM on June 26, 2010



>I don't understand this protest at all. The smashing, I mean.

Disregard the ideological veneer; it's adolescent status-seeking sport.

It falls in the same category as tagging walls with spray paint, knocking down mailboxes with a baseball bat as your friend's beat-up Camaro speeds you and three others through the night, tipping cows, tearing down goal posts, and brawling with fans of a rival sports team.
posted by darth_tedious at 5:13 PM on June 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


where did the Black Bloc members buy their clothing? Where do they buy their food?

Mummy and daddy?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:13 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


What we do is wise up with regard to the organization of our "protest culture" and maybe not so naively provide such fertile ground for the kind of bullshit currently going down.

Legitimately asked question; how do you do that?

The mainstream political realm has no interest in counter-culture or anti-globalism. When is the last time you saw a major network cover a press conference for an anti-capitalist organization?

The other apparent way to get attention is to create interest en masse, however now that's now got an arm tied to it that just wants anarchy.

Everyone can get a blog and a small interest group going, however 1,000,000 people chanting on their front porches won't really attract the attention. If you let the small groups of violent people drive you away from large-scale protest, you're giving up what little power you have over the media.

Consequently, if you do the job of the police and effectively beat the snot out of those who are destroying shit, the headlines will read "Protest leaves 5 dead" and ignore nuance of what actually happened in favor of the shock headline. I hate that good people watch and do nothing while the black bloc destroy the reputation of the peaceful protest, but what are they to do, really?
posted by Hiker at 5:17 PM on June 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Trochanter: they were just kids, like 18 or 19. One of them was a regular customer. My feeling is some of these scary hoodies-and-bandanas guys are otherwise normal kids, who go about their lives like everyone else, maybe they work some normal job, maybe they go to school, live in a dorm or share an apartment or something, I dunno. There's not a whole lot of radical anarchist squatter communes in Ottawa that I'm aware of, but there were always enough kids in bandannas and black at these protests.

I struggle to imagine what's so convincing about an ideology that suggests that the answer is to smash random storefronts and burn cop cars in disguise. Why does it always seem like they articulate their message so poorly when confronted about their intentions? What are they hoping to achieve? What message are they trying to send, and to who? There may be some died-in-the-wool anarchists trying to start a revolution for all I know, that have thought this whole thing out and came to the conclusion that the best course of action for right now is to go break stuff. But I can't help but think some of the people hiding their faces and causing shit are just using politics as a pretext to do some kind of aggro smash-and-burn-LARPing.
posted by Kirk Grim at 5:17 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


What message are they trying to send, and to who?

I've been to several protests and know people who self-refer as black bloc, anarchist types. They care so little about anything and simply want to stir shit, assuming that once the current system falls, suddenly things will just get better. Anything involved in the system is part of the problem; other protesters included.

They yell "fuck government" and then talk about the charter of rights and freedoms, like you can somehow disconnect the protection of rights from a central agency of some kind. They're amateurs, and unfortunately, they're loud, aggressive and dressed like the enemy from the movies which makes them very easy to focus on.
posted by Hiker at 5:25 PM on June 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


The whole "Black Bloc" thing is really interesting to me. I hear it described as if it's some kind of nebulous terrorist organization like Al Qaida. From CBC: "They dressed similar to members of the Black Block, a group that has used violence in past G20 protests. Group members are known for wearing black hoodies, masks, balaclavas and skateboard helmets."

In truth there is no "Black Block", as it's not an organization but simply a style of dress and a protest tactic in order to prevent protesters from being identified by police. If you smash a window or throw a rock, you can run into the crowd (where everyone looks the same, all black) and the police will have no idea which one of you it was, thus depriving them of the ability to arrest you. The same way a shark may chase a school of fish but is too confused by the crowd to chomp down on any single one.

It's also really interesting to me how people who use these tactics are thought to have materialized from somewhere else, as if they're an international band of roving thugs that just appears in every major city. Where are they based, I wonder? Notice the way these people are positioned as outsiders:

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews: "These images are truly shocking to Canadians" [what about the Canadians who created the images]

Mayor David Miller: "A relatively small group, probably a few hundred, mostly people who seem to be not from Toronto, come here on all evidence to commit deliberate acts of violence. I think all Torontonians should outraged by that.” [what about the Torontonians who were part of it]

Premier Dalton Mcguinty: On behalf of Ontarians, I urge all protesters to let their voices be heard through peaceful means." [Clearly not on behalf of all Ontarians]

I wonder if people would react differently if they knew that most of the so-called Black Bloc is locally grown. Because they are, of course, in most cases. Every major city has a radical left and an anarchist community which is strongly against globalization and a host of other related issues. Every such community has a small percentage who believe violence is necessary to get their message across. Certainly some of the people behaving violently in Toronto traveled from other cities to do so, but you can bet that they were invited by local organizations and marched with local activists and relied on locally built capacity.

I'm personally still unsure as to whether this segment of the movement, if you want to call it that, is helping or hurting their own cause. Without violence the protests would get much less press, undoubtedly. However, the kind of press this generates makes it harder for people to identify with the protesters and easier to think of them as outsiders rather than members of the communities in which they live and in which they are protesting. This delegitimizes the protest, and its message, for a large part of the population, thus keeping them permanently relegated to the fringe. Though maybe they're okay with that. Or maybe they haven't thought it through and just like the adrenaline of starting a riot. Hard to say.
posted by PercussivePaul at 5:39 PM on June 26, 2010 [20 favorites]


The peaceful protesters knew that the extremists would be amongst them. It was listed here on the schedule for The Community Mobilization Network (look for the ***). I mentioned it in the thread organizing a Metafilter meetup at the protests. Did the labour and non-governmental groups organizing the original march do enough to isolate the violent crowd or were they complicit in shielding them? Perhaps the peaceful protesters trade on the infamy of these kind of events to give the day kick. There seem to be many people now milling about (half of them photojournalists for Flickr) who have been buzzed and liberated by the actions of the extremists.
posted by TimTypeZed at 5:41 PM on June 26, 2010


I'm working a till in Yorkville right now, and you can't even tell that anything is going on a kilometre south of us. Here's hoping it doesn't get any farther north.

Sounds like there is a group now on Bloor now (8:40) by Varsity Stadium and heading East. So it sounds like they're headed your way.
posted by bobo123 at 5:42 PM on June 26, 2010


It is a shame riot dog couldn't get a passport for the G20.
posted by saucysault at 5:43 PM on June 26, 2010


RIOT
The unbeatable high
Adrenaline shoots your nerves to the sky
Everyone knows
This town is gonna blow
And it's all
gonna
blow
right
NOW
posted by Elmore at 5:45 PM on June 26, 2010


Zarah, I wish I could favorite your comment so many more times over.

I actually don't get all the hostility towards Black Bloc. Or rather, I get it, but I don't relate. I can relate to acts of violence against property as a means of venting anger and frustration, and I know some kids in Black Bloc, too, and I don't think they're all acting out of cynical apathy and a desire to smash for smashing's sake.

I lived in Vancouver until pre-Olympics gentrification forced me out. I honestly could not afford to live in the city I was born in anymore - the recession hit and the job market went down the tubes, and many friends of mine who were involved with "legitimate", peaceful protests against homelessness and police brutality were increasingly targeted by police, to the point where friends of mine found recording devices in their homes. All of this increased "security" didn't stop a man from being shot to death in the alley directly behind my home months before I left; it did, however, stop me from going down certain streets and alleys that I'd been walking down for years. I'd been homeless before, back on Vancouver Island, and I didn't want to be homeless again, especially with "Civil City" making homelessness illegal in Vancouver, so my beau and I scraped together all of our savings and high-tailed it out to Montreal.

When I watched the news of the Olympics protests in Vancouver and I saw those Black Bloc kids smashing windows, my first thoughts were, "Fuck yes. Thank you." Maybe most of those kids weren't even from Vancouver, and that's problematic; maybe the media and the police don't bother to make the distinction between violent protesters and peaceful protesters, and that's fucked up, too. But I think that there is value in all kinds of protests, even the ones that seem destructive at first glance. That people are angry enough to smash windows - even if those people are ridiculous kids who go to Starbucks later - speaks to a rage not well represented by petitions and protest songs. There's no way to put on a sign how I felt when one of my friends was beaten in Stanley Park, where he was trying to sleep, and then when he went to the hospital they saw that he was a) homeless and b) Native and treated him like shit until he got fed up and just walked out, and then came to visit me at my work because he knew at least I could let him use the bathroom at my workplace, but then he had a seizure and I had to call an ambulance even though he begged me not to, and then at the end of the day when I went home my roommate was watching the news and it was all about what a beautiful city Vancouver was and how great the Olympics would be and oh by the way they were closing up a housing project so they could turn it into condos.

I can't put that feeling of rage into a petition. But I often felt like I could put it behind a rock and smash a window. And though I don't do that kind of thing these days I have sympathy for the people who do, and I think that when it comes to different protesting tactics, there's a tendency to greatly oversimplify things into a false dichotomy of "peaceful protesters = good, protesters who commit property damage = RUINING IT FOR EVERYONE OMG!!" that is ultimately destructive to any kind of progressive movement for change. I wish we could have these discussions while considering the positive and negative effects of all forms of protest going on, and the ways in which they intersect and reflect what's happening in communities and with individuals. Simply rounding up all the Black Bloc kids and throwing them in jail isn't going to deal with the systemic reasons why protests like that exist, and moreover, it isn't going to make the media and the cops think more about the differences between peaceful and non-peaceful protesters. (Black Bloc kids smashing windows, for example, doesn't actually give police a "reason to beat legitimate protesters".)

And that's my teal deer for this thread. Ugh, I'm probably going to get e-yelled at now. Oh well.
posted by ellehumour at 5:45 PM on June 26, 2010 [39 favorites]


Tomorrow you're homeless
Tonight it's a blast
posted by Elmore at 5:55 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


And now they're past Yorkville and south on Yonge. Moving quickly.
posted by bobo123 at 6:02 PM on June 26, 2010


I often felt like I could put it behind a rock and smash a window

If someone's livelihood or person was harmed as a result of that action, who would be to blame?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:05 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


That people are angry enough to smash windows - even if those people are ridiculous kids who go to Starbucks later - speaks to a rage not well represented by petitions and protest songs.

Who cares? Anger don't mean shit. And breaking shit then high-fiving your bros after a venti latte is just a lifestyle choice, like wearing a beret or trying to pick up the crusty girls by showing off your scars.
posted by Snyder at 6:08 PM on June 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


I think Canada just lost its reputation for being..."nice".
posted by joni. at 6:11 PM on June 26, 2010


I wish we could have these discussions while considering the positive and negative effects of all forms of protest going on, and the ways in which they intersect and reflect what's happening in communities and with individuals.

It's kind of hard to have a discussion with someone wielding a hammer and smashing shit. The Black Bloc kids I know are so disinterested in actual discourse and just want to hammer away at the system until it falls.

I'm angry too, but does that mean I should rage around aiming at anyone and anything? Anger and rage aren't self-validating; simply because you feel doesn't make it okay to act on it.
posted by Hiker at 6:11 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


If someone's livelihood or person was harmed as a result of that action, who would be to blame?

Your strawman?
posted by ellehumour at 6:13 PM on June 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


And Hiker, if anger at systemic injustices doesn't make it okay for punk kids to smash windows, then anger at punk kids smashing windows doesn't make it okay for people to ignore the systemic reasons for people feeling the need to use such tactics, or the differences and connections between peaceful and non-peaceful tactics.
posted by ellehumour at 6:16 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Your strawman?

How is my objection to violent and destructive behavior and its potential for personal harm a strawman?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:17 PM on June 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


If someone's livelihood or person was harmed as a result of that action, who would be to blame?

Who has been injured because of windows broken at protests? Who has lost their job? Do you feel the same anger for damage done to people's livelihoods by the Starbucks executives who choose to fire their employees for trying to organize a union as you do for some guy whose window-smashing might make someone miss a shift while they wait on the plate-glass guy to come?
posted by enn at 6:22 PM on June 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


How is my objection to violent and destructive behavior and its potential for personal harm a strawman?

Everyone has the potential to cause personal harm to someone else. In this actual case, though, in the actual world in which we find ourselves, people are breaking windows, not injuring people, and thus the fact that injuring people is bad has fuck-all to do with the subject at hand.
posted by enn at 6:25 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Black Bloc kids smashing windows, for example, doesn't actually give police a "reason to beat legitimate protesters"

Funny you should mention that, as I've just seen the Chief of Police on TV using the Black Bloc as an excuse for rough treatment of other protesters yesterday. So it may not "give them a reason" (frankly, if a cop is going to beat someone, they are going to beat someone) but it is handy to vindicate actions they have taken.

People like to say that the Black Bloc is a tactic, not a group. I agree with them- it's a great tactic for police.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:33 PM on June 26, 2010


i know a few black bloc kids, and they are almost without exception entitled upper-class nitwits who 'dropped out' to piss off their lawyer parents.
posted by empath at 6:33 PM on June 26, 2010


people are breaking windows, not injuring people,

You can harm someone without physically injuring them.
posted by empath at 6:35 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


You can harm someone without physically injuring them.

Some sort of occupational injury particular to glaziers? Don't keep me in suspense! What concrete harm are window-smashers causing to which individual people?
posted by enn at 6:36 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Violence is not the answer. Violence is NEVER the answer.
posted by seawallrunner at 6:40 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I trust that everyone here who feels the need to justify the wanton trashing of my city will be so kind as to come and help clean up the mess, once all the macho hooligans have moved on?
posted by Crane Shot at 6:40 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


In this actual case, though, in the actual world in which we find ourselves, people are breaking windows, not injuring people, and thus the fact that injuring people is bad has fuck-all to do with the subject at hand.

I'm not claiming there is any intent for people to be injured, I'm saying these activities have the potential to hurt people, and being super-duper angry doesn't justify it. You put a rock through a window, are you absolutely sure there's no one on the other side of that glass? A business owner misses a day of work, his workers lose their pay, his operating costs go up, was it worth it to assuage your outrage?

You lob a firebomb into a bank, are you certain there isn't anyone in there?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:41 PM on June 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


The window smashers are causing the peaceful protestors to be seen as hooligans, thus causing them harm.
posted by fixedgear at 6:42 PM on June 26, 2010


What concrete harm are window-smashers causing to which individual people?

Ask the people who own the windows.
posted by empath at 6:42 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


You put a rock through a window, are you absolutely sure there's no one on the other side of that glass?

You can see through glass. That is the point of glass.

Nobody is lobbing firebombs in Toronto and that somebody somewhere once upon a time did so is also irrelevant.
posted by enn at 6:43 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ask the people who own the windows.

The windows aren't owned by people. They are owned by legal abstractions.
posted by enn at 6:44 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anecdotal evidence of someone's livelihood being affected by smashed windows.

Seriously, are we really debating whether this behaviour can cause loss of livelihood?
posted by dnesan at 6:45 PM on June 26, 2010


I mean seriously are you that dense? Lemme come round your neighborhood, knock off your mailbox with a baseball bat, slash your tires, kick your trash can over, smash your front window in, and you'll just laugh it off and say no harm done?

The MLK assassination riots were about as well justified as riots go and it took decades to recover from them, and some cities never really bounced back. This is just juvenile assholes doing this for kicks.
posted by empath at 6:45 PM on June 26, 2010


I mean seriously are you that dense? Lemme come round your neighborhood, knock off your mailbox with a baseball bat, slash your tires, kick your trash can over, smash your front window in, and you'll just laugh it off and say no harm done?

Once again, you're arguing by analogy with things which are not analagous and are not happening in Toronto. Find me an individual's broken mailbox, slashed tires, knocked-over trash can, or broken window. This is damage to property owned by legal fictions incapable of experiencing pain, deprivation, or sadness. Yes, they have individual owners, but those owners have chosen to do business in corporate form precisely because they can that way avoid personal liability for the actions of that legal fiction; they do not then get to have it both ways and turn around and claim personal injury when damage is done to property owned by their abstraction.
posted by enn at 6:49 PM on June 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I rent my apartment, which is owned by a corporation. I'm pretty sure that I'd still feel personally harmed if someone smashed my window in.
posted by empath at 6:51 PM on June 26, 2010


And yes, it is pretty juvenile and certainly pointless (so is the peaceful protest, in my opinion). But I don't think the people doing it are deserving of the opprobation heaped on them here or of being "at the very least imprisoned." Most of us do lots of pointless things every day.
posted by enn at 6:52 PM on June 26, 2010


You are literally saying that you feel entitled to destroy corporate property just because you feel like it? There's nothing morally wrong with that? If they burned down the building you work in, and you no longer had a job, no harm done?
posted by empath at 6:53 PM on June 26, 2010


You put a rock through a window, are you absolutely sure there's no one on the other side of that glass?

You can see through glass. That is the point of glass.


You say this as if the vandals give a shit. When I was in Québec City for the Summit of the Americas back in 2001, idiots were breaking into buildings under construction and throwing bricks from inside the building out where there were protesters walking by. I saw quite a bit of verbal back and forth between protesters and people who just showed up to break shit, which ultimately went nowhere.
posted by ODiV at 6:54 PM on June 26, 2010


Nobody is lobbing firebombs in Toronto and that somebody somewhere once upon a time did so is also irrelevant.

Actually, a number of vehicles have been burned.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:54 PM on June 26, 2010


if anger at systemic injustices doesn't make it okay for punk kids to smash windows, then anger at punk kids smashing windows doesn't make it okay for people to ignore the systemic reasons for people feeling the need to use such tactics

Smashing the windows out of a Second Cup in downtown Toronto does absolutely nothing to tell people that you care one whit about injustice in the world. There's not a coherent message there.

Anger at systemic injustices has as little to do with the reason that these hooligans are smashing windows as people ignoring those injustices has to do with antipathy toward said "punk kids."
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:54 PM on June 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've just seen the Chief of Police on TV using the Black Bloc as an excuse for rough treatment of other protesters yesterday. So it may not "give them a reason" (frankly, if a cop is going to beat someone, they are going to beat someone) but it is handy to vindicate actions they have taken.

Yeah, see, to me, that says that the problem is the cops, not Black Bloc.

If kids weren't smashing windows, they'd just find someone else, somewhere, who was doing something else illegal and use that. Locking up all the Black Bloc kids isn't going to solve the problem, is what I'm getting at, though the cops would certainly like to do that as well, I'm sure.

Look, I'm not saying that smashing windows is awesome and everyone who feels pissed off should totally go out and do it. I've never even smashed a window myself (for most of my life I've been a dedicated pacifist, though I'm not anymore - raised Quaker, blah blah blah) I'm not saying people who smashed windows aren't responsible for their own actions. I'm saying that it is productive and helpful to approach these protests where "diversity of tactics" are used without oversimplifying or building protesters into our personal strawmen, because that is how we can figure out how to build more effective, inclusive, and comprehensive movements for progressive change. Yes, there are police provocateurs and jerky suburban kids who commit property damage because they're tools; but there is also a legitimate rage behind a lot of these actions that people who consider themselves progressives need to understand and appreciate, even if you don't like, agree with, or condone the actions.
posted by ellehumour at 6:56 PM on June 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


You can see through glass. That is the point of glass.

They smashed a Starbucks at Bay and Queen in Toronto while at least one woman (I think an employee, but it's unclear) huddled inside. Police pulled her out and she was crying and terrified.

You're talking like they were really calculated about what they chose to wreck, that doesn't seem to be the case.
posted by dnesan at 6:56 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


The windows aren't owned by people. They are owned by legal abstractions.

What a relief. The tear gas and rubber bullets are also owned and used by legal abstractions. We have nothing to worry about!
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:57 PM on June 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


You are literally saying that you feel entitled to destroy corporate property just because you feel like it? There's nothing morally wrong with that? If they burned down the building you work in, and you no longer had a job, no harm done?

Obviously I would feel harmed if somebody cost me my job. There are many, many people far more likely to ever cost me my job than a black bloc protestor, and most of them work in banks. I don't understand this question. Do you think these stores are operating illegally with no insurance and will fire everyone and never reopen?

I don't go around destroying corporate property, no, but if breaking a Starbucks window was the worst thing I'd ever done I'd be pretty happy with myself.
posted by enn at 6:57 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, they have individual owners, but those owners have chosen to do business in corporate form precisely because they can that way avoid personal liability for the actions of that legal fiction; they do not then get to have it both ways and turn around and claim personal injury when damage is done to property owned by their abstraction.

I got a report from the ground (a few friends are amidst it all right now) that a mom and pop convenience store got their windows smashed.

I don't have any more info to give you on that (they were on the move and haven't written back in a while, so I apologize for the phantom nature of this) but needless to say, they were neither corporate entity nor un-injurable not-person.
posted by Hiker at 6:58 PM on June 26, 2010


What we do is wise up with regard to the organization of our "protest culture" and maybe not so naively provide such fertile ground for the kind of bullshit currently going down.

Legitimately asked question; how do you do that?


TRegrettably, on top of not even beginning to have a complete answer to this question, I have plans for this evening. That said, if this were a course and I was a prof, my first piece of required reading would be Guy Debord's The Society Of The Spectacle.

There will be a quiz in the morning.
posted by philip-random at 6:58 PM on June 26, 2010


there is also a legitimate rage behind a lot of these actions that people who consider themselves progressives need to understand and appreciate, even if you don't like, agree with, or condone the actions.

No, I really don't. And I don't consider them progressive. Anger is not an ideology.
posted by empath at 6:58 PM on June 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


What concrete harm are window-smashers causing to which individual people?

Maybe the employees of that place, who will likely be out of work for several days, if not permanently? That is harm, fuck you very much.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:59 PM on June 26, 2010


What a relief. The tear gas and rubber bullets are also owned and used by legal abstractions. We have nothing to worry about!

My legal abstraction can beat up your legal abstraction!
posted by dnesan at 7:00 PM on June 26, 2010


I got a report from the ground (a few friends are amidst it all right now) that a mom and pop convenience store got their windows smashed.

Yep. No one is researching the ownership and history of a building. Idiots are just smashing windows.
posted by ODiV at 7:01 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe the employees of that place, who will likely be out of work for several days, if not permanently? That is harm, fuck you very much.

I'm really skeptical that a single store in Toronto is going to shut down permanently rather than pay the cost of a new window. But OK. Let's say you're right. Do you think that people who lay off hundreds of thousands of employees in a single go — far more, I would bet, than have lost their jobs as a result of every protest action in the history of Canada combined — deserve to be "at the very least imprisoned" as well? If not, please explain to me why putting people out of work should only be a crime if you have questionable politics and a penchant for combat boots.
posted by enn at 7:04 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


If not, please explain to me why putting people out of work should only be a crime if you have questionable politics and a penchant for combat boots.

I hire you. I pay you for your time. We have a mutually agreeable relationship.

Me firing you is different than someone random on the street with a hard-on for violence wrecking that agreement for whatever reason. Do you disagree?
posted by dnesan at 7:07 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, they have individual owners, but those owners have chosen to do business in corporate form precisely because they can that way avoid personal liability for the actions of that legal fiction

And the Black Bloc kids dress up in black and mask their faces to create their own fiction. Fighting 'fiction' with more fiction won't improve reality.
posted by seawallrunner at 7:09 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you think that people who lay off hundreds of thousands of employees in a single go — far more, I would bet, than have lost their jobs as a result of every protest action in the history of Canada combined — deserve to be "at the very least imprisoned" as well?

I'm sorry, did I say anything about imprisonment? No? Okay then. Anyway, the answer is no, they should not got to jail, because they are not breaking any laws. Don't like that? Work to change the laws. That's how a democracy works.

If not, please explain to me why putting people out of work should only be a crime if you have questionable politics and a penchant for combat boots.

You forgot the part about actually committing criminal acts.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:10 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


dnesan, yes, I disagree. I think people have a property interest in their jobs.

Fighting 'fiction' with more fiction won't improve reality.

As I said above, I don't for a minute think that these tactics are useful or productive. I just don't think they're evil, terrible, monstrous acts.
posted by enn at 7:10 PM on June 26, 2010


I wonder if unmasking vandals would be a useful tactic in stopping them. Cameras are near ubiquitous these days. 'Course I wouldn't want to be the one approaching the guy with a hammer.
posted by ODiV at 7:12 PM on June 26, 2010


I don't for a minute think that these tactics are useful or productive. I just don't think they're evil, terrible, monstrous acts.

How about terribly counter-productive, then?
posted by joe lisboa at 7:20 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


(not piling on, honest question)
posted by joe lisboa at 7:20 PM on June 26, 2010


I'm saying that it is productive and helpful to approach these protests where "diversity of tactics" are used without oversimplifying or building protesters into our personal strawmen, because that is how we can figure out how to build more effective, inclusive, and comprehensive movements for progressive change.

I'm not seeing how smashing up a bunch of shit in my community is helping to build more effective, inclusive and comprehensive movements for progressive change.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:21 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just don't think they're evil, terrible, monstrous acts.

Neither do I, but fuck do they take the voice right away from me and my right to peaceful protest.
posted by Hiker at 7:21 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anyway, the answer is no, they should not got to jail, because they are not breaking any laws.

The Starbucks executives who fired people for organizing did broke a number of them, actually, but of course you don't go to jail for breaking that kind of law, just the kind where you might cost a couple thousand dollars, tops, to a business. I think these priorities are flawed.

How about terribly counter-productive, then?

Sure, I guess. I don't see a whole lot of productivity to counter here, though. It's not like the G-20 guys would invite the the peaceful protestors in to change their minds about the proposed austerity measures if only the black bloc guys weren't ruining everything.
posted by enn at 7:23 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


You are not going to make effective change to society by standing on the street throwing shit. Once you realize that, you can perhaps learn how to actually be effective, by forming large groups of like minded people whe will work positively for change, working the system from within.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:24 PM on June 26, 2010


standing on the street throwing shit

working the system from within

God help us if those are our only two options.
posted by enn at 7:27 PM on June 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


You are not going to make effective change to society by standing on the street throwing shit.

This is not a euphemism, even if it was intended as one. Protesters threw feces into a smashed up American Apparel store.
posted by dnesan at 7:27 PM on June 26, 2010


The Starbucks executives who fired people for organizing did broke a number of them, actually

Oh, okay. I guess that totally justifies smashing up a franchise and fucking up a bunch of innocent people's lives.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:27 PM on June 26, 2010


dnesan, yes, I disagree. I think people have a property interest in their jobs.

Perhaps, but how does that extend to a random individual with no dog in the fight? Why would I (where I am now a hammer-wielding Black bloc-er) have a property interest in YOUR job? Or the jobs of random Starbuck's employees?
posted by dnesan at 7:33 PM on June 26, 2010


Why would I (where I am now a hammer-wielding Black bloc-er) have a property interest in YOUR job? Or the jobs of random Starbuck's employees?

You wouldn't — I didn't mean to imply that. I only meant that I think laying people off without cause is also the sort of damage to people's livelihoods that ought to provoke the kind of anger the black bloc guys are provoking here — more, since the damage is so much greater.
posted by enn at 7:35 PM on June 26, 2010


enn wrote: "Some sort of occupational injury particular to glaziers? Don't keep me in suspense! What concrete harm are window-smashers causing to which individual people?"

I don't know, perhaps the owners of the shops who get their windows smashed for no reason in particular. Insurance doesn't cover riots, you know. Or maybe you don't know that. Either way, it doesn't.

So yeah, fuck the people who feel the need to perpetrate violence to get their way. They're no better than the jackasses in power who use violence by proxy to get their way. The only difference is scale.
posted by wierdo at 7:45 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I only meant that I think laying people off without cause is also the sort of damage to people's livelihoods that ought to provoke the kind of anger the black bloc guys are provoking here — more, since the damage is so much greater.

Near as I can tell, no one has claimed otherwise. I doubt it would take very long to find an FPP about corporate ethics (Or the lack thereof), misconduct, law-breaking, and a large host of comments decrying and denouncing such. But this turn in the conversation was brought about by ellehumour's stated sympathy for the destructive actions of the protesters, which is why we are debating that, rather than unjustified layoffs and worker and environmental exploitation.

Still waiting for a explanation of my straw man.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:50 PM on June 26, 2010


And if I'd read to the end of the thread, I would have written this in my last post.

enn wrote: "You wouldn't — I didn't mean to imply that. I only meant that I think laying people off without cause is also the sort of damage to people's livelihoods that ought to provoke the kind of anger the black bloc guys are provoking here — more, since the damage is so much greater."

Personally, I have a moral problem with violence. It pisses me off. It makes me angry. It does not make me break shit.

Regardless of that, you seem to be under the impression that nobody is angry about the mistreatment of workers and the malfeasance that led to our most recent financial meltdown. I can assure you that you are not only misguided, but totally fucking out of it, if you truly believe that. Perhaps you missed the thousands upon thousands of abusive comments hurled in the direction of the perpetrators of said malfeasance in at least tens and possibly hundreds of posts about that topic just on this site alone. Hundreds of those comments called specifically for those people to be jailed. In some cases, even killed, although the latter tend to get deleted.
posted by wierdo at 7:56 PM on June 26, 2010


Some Obvious Rules of Thumb:

The less property you own, and the less socially valued that property, the more virtuous it seems to damage or appropriate someone else's property.

The greater the difference between the value of what you own and that other person owns, the easier it is to avoid guilt, or even feel a sense of justice, in taking from that other person.

In cases of literal life-or-death, it may be moral to steal food from those with surplus; the greater the sense of one's entitlement, by definition, the more mere inconvenience or aggravation can feel like life-or-death, and symbols of wealth or entertainment artifacts or media or anything at all can seem as vital as food.

Modern Western Civilization, which is to say, the consumer society, excels at producing a sense of entitlement.
posted by darth_tedious at 7:57 PM on June 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


The idea of a sovereign human individual distinct from her/his social obligations to others (not, for instance, to destroy their property) is as much an abstraction as any corporation. What a load of juvenile libertarian tripe to justify vandalism as symbolic action that way.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:00 PM on June 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


There is a message to all the smashing. It's poorly articulated and not well-delivered, but it's there if you look for it instead of being distracted by the messengers. It is, roughly, that modern industrialized society is immoral, especially multinational corporations. This immorality manifests in several ways, such as environmental pollution and resource depletion, exploitative labor practices, destruction of local capacity, suppressing indigenous rights, and so on. These threads are wound through all of the protests to the point where it almost seems confusing and an unrelated hodgepodge of causes. But there is a common thesis: a society structured around the pursuit of profits leads to injustices and is thus immoral.

All the protests, whether violent or not, can be viewed as a collective medium through which this message is transmitted. The use of violence adds another dimension to the message, however. Basically, it says that the magnitude of the injustices is sufficiently large as to justify violent action. It may be vandalism, but it's roughly targeted against corporations and chains which is consistent with the message, collateral damage notwithstanding. As to the collateral damage, it's inevitable in riot situations with individual actors who have agency and who may be more interested in smashing things than others -- but saying the group is interested only in destruction or doing it "just for kicks" is ignoring the bigger picture of what they're doing.

The violent protesters are caricatured as suburban kids and hypocrites who just want to start fights. I think this dismissive language is both incorrect, and possibly dangerous, because it shows a failure to engage with the root of the behavior. These people don't see themselves that way; they believe they're engaged in a struggle against an evil enemy. I remember similar caricatures against immigrant youth rioting in France a few years back. Maybe those were just kids who wanted to burn cars. Should you just dismiss the lot because they're violent and because they break the law, and hope they go away next time? What if the violent fringe gets stronger over time? Isn't it worth trying to understand what motivates these people?
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:06 PM on June 26, 2010 [18 favorites]


[The message] is, roughly, that modern industrialized society is immoral, especially multinational corporations.

Do you have any evidence that this is what drives the vandalism?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:13 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is a message to all the smashing. It's poorly articulated and not well-delivered,

By definition, isn't this a terrible way to deliver one's message then? Which is pretty much what everyone here is saying, and therefore explains why there is such animosity towards this type of action.
posted by dnesan at 8:16 PM on June 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Throwing a brick through a window = easy + adrenalin high

Fixing world problems = hard + plenty of long boring meetings
posted by storybored at 8:16 PM on June 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Do you have any evidence that this is what drives the vandalism?

Well, from an earlier link in the thread, here's the planning website for the protest. I also think you can hear it in the slogans they chant and read it in any of the literature they distribute.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:17 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Near as I can tell, no one has claimed otherwise.

Well, Sys Rq did say that layers-off should not go to jail, but more broadly, I am skeptical when people who are are so angry about vandalism during this protest attribute their anger to the effect of that vandalism on the livelihoods of employees of vandalized businesses. This concern seems very selective to me and it seems odd that it is most vocally expressed toward a protest tactic that has got to be incredibly far down the list of shitty things that happen which cost people their jobs. It's like hedge fund managers decrying the effect of the capital gains tax on the humble family farmer — I just don't buy it. I think people don't like the black bloc because they don't like their politics, their subculture, or their attitude, and because they live in a culture that places far too much stock in property rights even when those rights don't have anything to do with an actual person's things and instead reflect numbers in a database. If this were really about the people who work in those stores missing a few shifts — if there were enough interest in people's livelihoods and working conditions to result in this level of outrage — we'd have had the four hour day and a living wage fifty years ago.

Personally, I have a moral problem with violence. It pisses me off. It makes me angry. It does not make me break shit.

I have a problem with violence too. I don't think property crime in a public place with no threat to anyone's person or home is violent. Do you consider graffiti an act of violence?

Still waiting for a explanation of my straw man.

It's a straw man to decry the potential for personal injury when nobody has been injured and (I certainly hope) nobody is likely to be injured as a result of these tactics. At the last set of G-20 protests in London, the only person who died was killed by the police.

(Since I've already posted far too much in this thread and it's late, I'm not going to post further, but I hope anyone who wants to continue discussing this with me will feel free to send a MeFi mail.)
posted by enn at 8:20 PM on June 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


Do you consider graffiti an act of violence?

Yes, when it makes a neighborhood less safe.
posted by storybored at 8:22 PM on June 26, 2010


Isn't it worth trying to understand what motivates these people?

I think I do understand the motivations, so uh, now what?
posted by storybored at 8:24 PM on June 26, 2010


Well, from an earlier link in the thread, here's the planning website for the protest. I also think you can hear it in the slogans they chant and read it in any of the literature they distribute.

I'm still missing the part where being mad about people being fucked over justifies fucking other people over.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:25 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a moral position. I'm not claiming it's justified, only that they think it's justified.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:27 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think property crime in a public place with no threat to anyone's person or home is violent.

I live 30 seconds walk from where some of this property crime occurred today. As I walked home tonight, through an area that is normally bustling with families, couples, and individuals going about their business, enjoying the warm summer air, I was instead confronted with the lingering smell of burning rubber and broken glass everywhere. No one was about.

The signal that sends to those who live here is that there are groups of people who firmly believe that if things don't go their way at the ballot box, they have no problem resorting to bricks and disrupting the lives of their fellow citizens to get their attention. It's not the language of the downtrodden or the oppressed, but the language of fools and children. You think breaking a window of a Starbucks is going to result in the safe and legal provision of abortion to women in the developing world? IDIOTS.

What they carry is inherently a message of violence, a message of intimidation to Canadians, and the fact that it it is initially directed at property does not change that. They've caused the city to essentially be locked down, and that is a violent act against our way of life. If these cowards want to take off their masks and stand up in be counted with the rest of us, then I applaud them. Otherwise, they can fuck right off.
posted by modernnomad at 8:38 PM on June 26, 2010 [25 favorites]


I think people don't like the black bloc because they don't like their politics

Gah. No. I, for one, agree with the politics. That's pretty much the problem. A bunch of assholes smashing shit up ostensibly for a cause I believe in effectively diminishes public sympathy for that cause.

I would feel the same way about the Ku Klux Klan coming out in favour of the NDP. Thanks, but no thanks.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:40 PM on June 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


> Let that be a lesson - peaceful protest doesn't accomplish anything.

> Should you just dismiss the lot because they're violent and because they break the law, and hope they go away next time? What if the violent fringe gets stronger over time? Isn't it worth trying to understand what motivates these people?

At last count, 224 people had favorited the Robert F. Williams post-- "How-the-Daddy-of-Jesse-Helms-Gave-Birth-to-Black-Power", and violent action, and violent resistance, are intrinsically attention-getting.

And, yes, extreme repression can eventually lead to extreme response-- it's the fuel of any given bottom-up revolution, and most terror-using movements.

But very few acts of violent theater are ultimately successful; usually, violent movements achieve success through sustained, organized, military campaigns, and (relatively) nonviolent movements through long-term, sustained sacrifice from some identifiable group.

Bluntly, successful radical change requires martyrs, people willing to be crushed and killed. Lots of them, over a long period of time.

Dressing in black, putting on a bandana mask, anonymizing yourself in a crowd, and setting off to break-windows-and-get-hassled-by-the-cops once every few months is fundamentally unserious.

It's a hang-out opportunity, mixed with occasional feats of physical derring-do to impress Rainbow, that cute girl you just met.

At the risk of personalizing, yeah, as I'm sure many of those posting did, I went to similar rallies as a kid. And bluntly, the ones were breaking things were performing an obvious courtship ritual-- athletic guys striving for the highest profile and ultimately the hottest girls, and unattractive girls trying to get accepted by the group at large.

Fighting for status points within one's subculture is not in itself a problem-- the problem is stepping on other people's toes, and breaking other people's windows, in the process.
posted by darth_tedious at 8:41 PM on June 26, 2010 [7 favorites]




Wow. So hippies getting subdued by cops and vandals running free.
posted by ODiV at 9:15 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Violence is never the answer.
I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent. - Mahatma Gandhi
Possible short term gains:
- Attention
- Negative justification of security expense
- Outlet for supposedly disenfranchised youth to express themselves.

Definite long term losses:
- Wrong type of attention, drowns out less dramatic (and arguably better intentioned) protests
- Positive justification of security expense
- Rationale for politicians, police, military, business leaders to further distance themselves from the population that they either support or represent.

So, it will decrease involvement in legitimate peaceful protest as media (social or otherwise) focus on what draws attention. Future summit sites will feel justified in increased spending to avoid similar activity. Finally, security measures like giant fences and streets filled with riot police will be ever more pervasive as the "elite" will supposedly have justifiable means for the separation.

The police and politicians are already aware of this and are trying to use it to their advantage. For example, the reports of the decoy vehicles in Toronto and events in Montebello.

Peaceful protest may seem slow or boring. However, that is true democracy. The Black Bloq and their ilk are ruining months and/or years of work that could make a real and lasting difference. All for the sake of some cheap thrills and publicity.
posted by purephase at 9:18 PM on June 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ooh, check out @spaikin (TVO's Steve Paikin).
# 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.

# they repeated they would arrest me if i didn't leave. as i was escorted away from the demonstration, i saw two officers hold a journalist.

# the journalist identified himself as working for "the guardian." he talked too much and pissed the police off. two officers held him....

# a third punched him in the stomach. totally unnecessary. the man collapsed. then the third officer drove his elbow into the man's back.

# no cameras recorded the assault. and it was an assault.

# the officer who escorted me away from the demo said, "yeah, that shouldn't have happened." he is correct. there was no cause for it.

# i can appreciate that the police were on edge today, after seeing four or five of their cruisers burned. but why such overreaction tonight?

# 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.

# police on one side screamed at the crowd to leave one way. then police on the other side said leave the other way. there was no way out.

# so the police just started arresting people. i stress, this was a peaceful, middle class, diverse crowd. no anarchists

# literally more than 100 officers with guns pointing at the crowd. rubber bullets and smoke bombs ready to be fired. rubber bullets fired

# i was "escorted" away by police so couldn't see how many arrested, but it must have been dozens.

# we must make a distinction between the "thugs" who broke store windows and torched cop cars and the very reasonable citizens who...

# ...just wanted to remind the authorities that the freedom to speak and assemble shouldn't disappear because world leaders come to town.
Can't wait to read that article in the Guardian.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:30 PM on June 26, 2010 [18 favorites]


Just beat me to it, Sys Rq. Horrible, awful stuff.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:37 PM on June 26, 2010




These Black Block douchebags are fucking up my home. Ghandi was right; nonviolent protest is the way to do thing, because as soon as you use violence you invalidate your message.

I call on Torontonians to make your signs, go to the fence, and sit down.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:45 PM on June 26, 2010


Can't go to the fence, and if you could there would be people uninterested in your approach who are throwing rocks and trying to climb over it.

Steve Paikin is the host of a show that is about to go on summer hiatus. He quit reporting from the field years ago. Besides that, he's the kind of political wonk who obsesses over events like summits and conferences. If he was really interested on doing his particular job, he'd be trying to find out what Harper is saying to Obama over dessert. Is it really the job of everyone with a press badge to be standing in front of a line of riot cops?

Now, in addition to the billion already spent, Canada will spend another half-billion on a five year inquiry into what went wrong here, which will really accomplish nothing, but will be the topic of a panel discussion on Mr. Paikin's show once every three months.
posted by TimTypeZed at 10:16 PM on June 26, 2010


I call on Torontonians to make your signs, go to the fence, and sit down.

Which they did, where they could; the mood was very relaxed at the one place along the fence that seemed to be exposed to protesters, down by Union Station.
posted by chrominance at 10:19 PM on June 26, 2010


dnab, that's what's getting people arrested tonight.
posted by avocet at 10:21 PM on June 26, 2010


Most information that I've come across says that the Black Bloc changes into street clothes and blends into the crowds, how can Paikin ensure that his assumption of who is a thug and who is a peaceful middle-class citizen is correct?

I live and work in the Queen/Spadina area and the destruction I saw was heartbreaking. On the whole I thought the police were being too passive and if that makes me a bad person/Canadian/Mefite I am okay with that.
posted by kate blank at 10:24 PM on June 26, 2010


I was at the fence tonight, with a very peaceful protest (no black bloc at all). It started at Queen's Park. The protesters were gathered in Queen's Park, mostly standing around watching the ridiculous amount of police. It was very calm, not even crowded until the police charged the people in the park, beating their shields with their batons, brandishing guns with laser sights and charging forward in short burts with mounted police. They pushed everyone out of the park towards the university campus, and then north through the campus until the protesters spilled out onto Bloor st, one of the main streets running east west through the city.

Please keep in mind that no major streets, including Yonge st (the major north south route downtown) were having their traffic flow disrupted at all at the time the protesters were in Queen's Park. It was only after the police forced the protesters out of the park that traffic was disrupted - where the hell else is everyone going to go?

So the crowd decided to march along Bloor and then turn south towards the 'wall' down Yonge st. At this point traffic was turned into a mess. This peaceful, and I stress peaceful, march proceeded down Yonge to the wall where it stopped and people stood and sang 'Oh Canada' and chanted 'Peace-ful pro-test!'. Shortly thereafter a huge mob of riot police reinforced the ones already watching the protest, encircled the crowd and began closing in shouting 'Move or you will be arrested!'.

At that point I decided I'd seen enough ridiculous and brutish behaviour from the Toronto police and so walked the long walk home (thanks TTC).
posted by dazed_one at 11:06 PM on June 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Star seems to capture it well. Behind the Black Bloc mob
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:39 PM on June 26, 2010


Neither do I, but fuck do they take the voice right away from me and my right to peaceful protest.

No, long before the first window was smashed, your voice & right to peaceful protest was taken away by a government that created designated "speech zones" & new arrest standards that violate charter rights. They have no interest in democracy or what change we might want from them, they just don't want us to wreck their fancy occasion with interjections of reality, whether it be peaceful or violent.
posted by zarah at 11:50 PM on June 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anyway, the answer is no, they should not got to jail, because they are not breaking any laws. Don't like that? Work to change the laws. That's how a democracy works.

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread" - Anatole France
posted by crayz at 11:57 PM on June 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


enn wrote: "I am skeptical when people who are are so angry about vandalism during this protest attribute their anger to the effect of that vandalism on the livelihoods of employees of vandalized businesses."

You misunderstand. At least in my case, I'm angry because this sort of horseshit makes it damn nigh impossible to work toward the end of reining in the excesses these vandals claim to be fighting against. As soon as you speak up in support of those ideas, you get lumped in with the rioters. All the violence ends up doing is closing minds.

The authorities have become better at controlling the flow of information since the US civil rights movement, so the public at large doesn't see the abuses of peaceful protesters by the police. They only hear about the mob violence. Thus, provocation serves no good at all, in addition to making the rioters (and others on that end of the political spectrum) look like utter asshats.

And it serves to justify the insanity of free speech zones and massive police presence. And, IMO, it makes peaceful protesters that much more likely to get beaten.

The fact they insist on anonymity is yet more indication it's more about breaking shit than changing shit. It smacks of a guilty mind.
posted by wierdo at 12:03 AM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was very calm, not even crowded until the police charged the people in the park, beating their shields with their batons, brandishing guns with laser sights and charging forward in short burts with mounted police.

Some video from the incident dazed_one refers to.
posted by regicide is good for you at 12:29 AM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


recigide is good for you, the video title is "Toronto police attack peaceful protesters" but I do not see anyone being attacked in that video. Definitely no one is beaten; the camera person is told to "get up," walked away, and was not arrested. If the police beat someone they either arrest them or kill them (at least in the US! not sure how it works up there). They don't let them just walk away. My guess is that they were running in his direction and he didn't move, so he was knocked over. Not "nice," definitely a dick move, but not an attack or a beating either. Having attended similar protests I am 99% certain that the people arrested in the beginning were told not to enter that street and did so anyway. So they got arrested. The guy being arrested near the end is being very carefully handled. He's not even resisting.

I am not doubting that there were injustices perpetrated yesterday; I wish protesters would not resort to hyperbole to make their point.
posted by desjardins at 3:31 AM on June 27, 2010


Also, it astounds me that people are surprised when peaceful protesters get arrested. If you are practicing civil disobedience, you are by definition breaking the law, and law breakers will get arrested. Getting arrested is the whole point of civil disobedience. You don't believe the law is just, so you are challenging it by being disobedient. Surprise! The police don't like that!

In the US, if you don't follow a police officer's orders, you are breaking the law, whether the orders 1) make sense 2) are just 3) are directed at peaceful people. Don't want to get arrested? Back the fuck up and stay where you're told to*. Otherwise don't act surprised.

*Yes, I am sure that some did as they were told and were still arrested. This is unfortunate and I hope it gets sorted. In my experience the vast majority of arrests do not fall into this category.
posted by desjardins at 4:14 AM on June 27, 2010


It's weird how MetaFilter has one set of rules for what general statements about groups of people you can make for protesters, and another for every other group. The amount of offensive generalisation in this thread, of the form 'Black Bloc people think this and are wrong because they're just trust-fund "anarchists" looking for a reason to burn things!' is astounding. Make those sorts of generalisations and inferences about the motivations and character of any other group of people, get your comment deleted and your own thread on the grey. Shit-talk these guys, and hey, you're only being fucking fair, right?
posted by Dysk at 4:51 AM on June 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm judging people employing the "Black Bloc" tactic by their actions: they are cowards. They show up at peaceful demonstrations organized by other groups, commit acts of violence and vandalism, and then run away, leaving other protesters holding the bag. No wait, they show up and try to start a riot, and then run away. How does that support consensus building, promotion of local and personal autonomy, and mutual aid?

Any of these self-proclaimed "Anarchists" should take a bit of time out and read a damn book!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:31 AM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the US, if you don't follow a police officer's orders, you are breaking the law, whether the orders 1) make sense 2) are just 3) are directed at peaceful people. Don't want to get arrested? Back the fuck up and stay where you're told to*. Otherwise don't act surprised.

First off, this isn't the U.S., and second that isn't true. An officer that randomly walks up to you and asks to search your stuff needs probable cause to do so. They can't tell you they're going to enter your home without a warrant. A police officer's word isn't gospel. It amazes me that anyone actually thinks it is.

There are real and definite limits to what a police officer can and cannot do. In Ontario, for this summit, those rules have changed significantly, at great harm to many and of no benefit to a few rich people living it up for a few photo ops.

If the police beat someone they either arrest them or kill them (at least in the US! not sure how it works up there).

I don't know what kind of alternate universe you live in but plenty of people are struck by police every day and neither arrested not killed. There's no black and white when it comes to police brutality and to suggest so is unbelievably ignorant.

If you need an example of this in your country, here you go. That's less than 3 weeks ago. These women followed your "following a police officer's orders is the law, whether it makes sense or is just" theory and were sexually assaulted.

You have rights; I have rights; the police can't take them away because I've chosen to hit city streets and protest. If I'm violent, and I break laws, or I get physical with an officer, I absolutely should be arrested, but if I walk around and chant and make signs with like-minded folks, there is no justification for search, detainment or arrest in a public place.
posted by Hiker at 5:56 AM on June 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Dysk, in this case the generalizations are largely correct. Were you here? Did you, as I did, have to walk to work after hearing about these yahoos smashing windows and cars? I had a fucking US federal agent offer to get me a police escort to work so I'd be safe; I work literally around the corner from the first cop car they torched.

These anarchist asshats have no interest in legitimate protest. They just want to break things. Go take a look at the photos; businesses along Queen Street, Yonge Street, and within the Eaton Centre are dealing today with smashed windows and ruined inventory. Some of them, yeah, are multinat corps--but especially on Queen many are small independent local Canadian (;)) businesses. Go look at the photo I linked--you want to tell me these people have any interest whatsoever in actual protesting? FYI, that car was also torched shortly after, via Molotov cocktail, and again is a couple of blocks from where I work.

So, y'know, you can be all self-righteous if you like I guess. But even on MetaFilter, it's generally considered a good idea to have your opinions preceded by knowledge. The vast majority of protesters were peaceful and just trying to be heard. It was a small group of dickheads--many, apparently, not even from the city--who decided to ratchet things up and fuck my home.

From the article PercussivePaul linked:
“Violence just brings more violence,” a woman said into a megaphone as an anarchist set fire to a police cruiser. “What you guys are doing, it’s breaking my heart.”
It's breaking my heart too. This is my home, this is where I was born. I've been having a love affair with this city since I was born, and yesterday someone beat him up. This sort of violence is so un-Canadian it hurts; we do things here quietly and peacefully and we care about the people around us.

dnab, that's what's getting people arrested tonight.

That is rather the point of civil disobedience, isn't it?

And on preview, what TheWhiteSkull said. If these people were really trying to say something, not just smash shit for the sake of smashing shit, they wouldn't be wearing masks, they wouldn't be melting back into the crowds. That is all clear evidence that they want to escape any consequences for their actions; real protesters are happy to be arrested because it gives them a chance to speak and/or shows the absurdity of arresting someone for saying what they feel.

And FWIW, I think the cops have been extremely restrained. Yes, I understand there have been a few incidents--but also bear in mind that a) they have been incredibly minor, and b) none of those occurred until after these complete douchebags started breaking things. (Don't even start with 'oh mainstream media blah blah' bullshit, ok? For one, I've been getting my information from both mainstream and citizen-sourced journalism, and for another Canadian media in general looks pretty fucking dimly on police brutality.)
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:58 AM on June 27, 2010 [8 favorites]



You have rights; I have rights; the police can't take them away because I've chosen to hit city streets and protest. If I'm violent, and I break laws, or I get physical with an officer, I absolutely should be arrested, but if I walk around and chant and make signs with like-minded folks, there is no justification for search, detainment or arrest in a public place.


Amen. I am praying that Clayton Ruby (or someone of equal knowledge and stature) takes on everyone arrested under the temporary laws as clients, and smashes the government for trampling on Charter rights,
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:00 AM on June 27, 2010


I took a walk on Queen West to downtown and then up Yonge this morning. Toronto cleans up real good.

I was surprised at how selective the damage actually was. Wherever I saw a mildly trashed Starbucks the stores all round were fine. The Nike Store and the Gap were hit but all the independent stores in between and on either side were left unscathed. Yeah, I have seen photo evidence of independent stores being trashed, but outside of the eye of the hurricane the targets seem to be confined to corporate outposts.
posted by KS at 7:49 AM on June 27, 2010


I am skeptical when people who are are so angry about vandalism during this protest attribute their anger to the effect of that vandalism on the livelihoods of employees of vandalized businesses.

Yeah, this is thin. While it's true that the vandalism is affecting the wrong people negatively, to concentrate on this detail is to miss a much more sinister effect, which is the degree to which the vandalism is undermining the nature of protest period; and to extrapolate, the degree to which it undermines all thoughtful criticism of the powers that be. That is, if the dudes-in-black did not exist, it would be necessary for the powers that be to invent them.
posted by philip-random at 7:54 AM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dressing in black, putting on a bandana mask, anonymizing yourself in a crowd, and setting off to break-windows-and-get-hassled-by-the-cops once every few months is fundamentally unserious. It's a hang-out opportunity, mixed with occasional feats of physical derring-do to impress Rainbow, that cute girl you just met.

I'm still laughing.
posted by philip-random at 7:58 AM on June 27, 2010


Well the Black Bloc vandals aren't being rounded up, despite being caught on video changing into hipster clothes . .

Who is being rounded up? Indy journalists. Protest organizers.

http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/newsrelease/3826
posted by Paddle to Sea at 8:01 AM on June 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, the cars to be torched were a fabrication, is it really a stretch that the torching of them also is a fabrication? There is the legal concept of Attractive Nuisance, which basically means: you should know better than to ... because you know what will happen. At what point does the whole meta conception of riot-prep simply exist to perpetuate rioting? There's money in that, and political capital too.

The whole thing is disgusting, and at the end of the day the only lasting accomplishment will have been a further erosion of respect for the political process and law enforcement on one side, and easy rationalizations for hyperspending on security and the thin blue line on the other.

Way to go, elected leaders. You have made Canada just a bit more like the United States yet again.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:09 AM on June 27, 2010


"you told us we could leave"

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/7928414
posted by Paddle to Sea at 8:10 AM on June 27, 2010


Is Toronto burning?
posted by Paddle to Sea at 8:30 AM on June 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


"And while riot cops had shields AND bikes and thousands of dollars in body armor to protect them from the remaining peaceful protestors, somehow they were so scared of us that they abandoned police cars."
Uhh. If there's an already-proven-to-be-violent mob coming at you, your safest place is not stuck inside a stationary vehicle. My understanding of the King & Bay and the Queen West car torchings was that the cops got out to deal with the crowd, and they could not safely get the cars out--safely both for the protesters and for the cops in the cars.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:40 AM on June 27, 2010


Ok, maybe the vehicles aren't a decoy.

But it sure was handy for any media who're more comfortable ignoring the peaceful protesters' concerns.

They sure seem comfortable this morning, reporting on additions to the media snack tray, and glossing over the fact that rubber bullets were fired last night -- at a peaceful sit in.
posted by Paddle to Sea at 9:09 AM on June 27, 2010


# the journalist identified himself as working for "the guardian." he talked too much and pissed the police off. two officers held him....

# a third punched him in the stomach. totally unnecessary. the man collapsed. then the third officer drove his elbow into the man's back.

The journalist in question is Jesse Rosenfeld.
posted by homunculus at 9:30 AM on June 27, 2010


Goddamn, what a clusterfuck.
posted by spoobnooble at 9:38 AM on June 27, 2010


spaikin:

rosenfeld's father says he went to the eastern av. holding tank last night but they had no info as to his son's whereabouts. 1 minute ago via web

posted by Paddle to Sea at 10:10 AM on June 27, 2010


Who is being rounded up? Indy journalists. Protest organizers.

Undercover cops now posing as journalists. Raids taking place everywhere.
posted by avocet at 10:11 AM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The windows aren't owned by people. They are owned by legal abstractions.

Um, no. The windows belong to people, either the owner of the building who is renting to a Starbucks franchise, or to the person who owns the franchise. Starbucks is a brand, but people live and work in it just as much as they work in non-branded cafes.

So a window is broken. It is no more acceptable to break the window of a business because you don't like them for their policies, than because they are owned by an ethnic minority, or to break the window of a person's home because you, personally don't like them.

Which is exactly the point these people are missing, because they see it as striking a blow against the high powers that be, but they're only thinking in terms of abstract.
posted by Phalene at 10:16 AM on June 27, 2010


watch this now
http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/ID=1530097148
posted by gonna get a dog at 10:19 AM on June 27, 2010


No they're there to convince the rest of us that NO protesters have valid concerns.

They're working for the state whether they know it or not. I think they know.
posted by Paddle to Sea at 10:22 AM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Link to live video (same link as gonna get a dog posted above, just linked). Worth watching.
posted by desjardins at 10:26 AM on June 27, 2010


The journalist in question is Jesse Rosenfeld.

The troubling part is the manipulation and threatening to journalists by both sides. In Olympia, WA, the local anarchists attacked a journalist who was on assignment to cover their protest.
posted by Back to you, Jim. at 10:29 AM on June 27, 2010


A few more videos:

A car burning on Queen St

Plainclothes Cops arresting a dude (hard to understand at first but then you realize almost everyone you see in the video is a plainclothes cop--watch how many of them run behind the police line at the end)

A montage of the most dramatic stuff from Russia Today

Here's an album of pics I took yesterday if you're on Facebook.
posted by skwt at 10:45 AM on June 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


CBC's Livestream shut off right after the sound of rubber bullets at the Detention Centre protest. . .
posted by Paddle to Sea at 10:59 AM on June 27, 2010


Gnatcho and I were at the solidarity rally by the Pape and Eastern, chalking seagulls on the ground with two kids when the police suddenly fired something (rubber bullets? tear gas?) into the crowd. We ran. Don't know what happened to the kids. Don't know what happened to the other people with us (University of Toronto Student Union folks). We're safe now. Update later.
posted by dustyasymptotes at 10:59 AM on June 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Picture of us right before we were rushed: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mariannemadelinelau/4738817133/ (note seagulls on pavement)

The photographer is from BASICS community news. (not official accreditation, just Alternative Media Centre Press Pass) She was by herself and really shaken up. We took the Queen Streetcar together to Spadina before Gnatcho and I got off.

Sorry about the slow updates. I'm pretty distraught right now and trying to check if everyone I know is OK. Hearing about lots of random searches and shakedowns on the street. People who organized the teach-ins, people's summit being detained/arrested at their homes. There was a fake press conference call for 2 PM outside the jail trying to net more people. I think TCMN is trying to organize a 'real' press conference for 3 at the Parkdale library.
posted by dustyasymptotes at 11:39 AM on June 27, 2010


This one's pretty funny.
posted by skwt at 11:50 AM on June 27, 2010


Can we maybe use the extant MeTa thread as a roll call for mefites who were out protesting today?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:51 AM on June 27, 2010


I've been working nights at the AMC all week hence why I missed the meetup. Cops visited today. I just feel so, so sick about all this.
posted by avocet at 11:51 AM on June 27, 2010




thanks for sharing your photos, skwt. sorry to hear about your bike wheel.
posted by gursky at 12:03 PM on June 27, 2010


dustyasymptotes, I didn't see your post just above--I didn't mean to be insensitive. I hope all your friends are okay. I have a bunch of friends out protesting today too. (I got rammed myself by a bike cop yesterday who wrecked my bike.)
posted by skwt at 12:06 PM on June 27, 2010


Thanks gursky.

dirtynumbangelboy, what MeTa thread are you referring to?
posted by skwt at 12:17 PM on June 27, 2010


This one, I think.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:20 PM on June 27, 2010


Yeh sorry, linkage would have been a good idea. Whups.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:30 PM on June 27, 2010




It's like Half-Life in Toronto. I've been camped out in Scarborough most of the weekend. Seems like I missed a lot of nonsense. It's disappointing to see so many cops on the streets of Toronoto. It's pretty fucked up.
posted by chunking express at 1:15 PM on June 27, 2010


Yeah I haven't even left the apartment today, just not worth running into more insanity. Plus I'm betting most of downtown is closed--is the Eaton Centre open again?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:21 PM on June 27, 2010


Related to skwt's second video, here's one from the POV of the guy getting shot from the behind, and here's his [GRAPHIC] flickr feed of his wound. I didn't know a rubber bullet did that much damage. This dude was walking away, there was no possible rationale for that.
posted by desjardins at 1:35 PM on June 27, 2010


and here's his [GRAPHIC] flickr feed of his wound. I didn't know a rubber bullet did that much damage.

Yeah, rubber bullet wounds look nasty.
posted by homunculus at 1:55 PM on June 27, 2010


200 police currently raiding convergence space. Prayer vigil at Queen and Bay. Police rumoured to be deploying LRAD at eastern end of the city. Check #g20report on twitter. Numerous close friends of mine are locked in. Police have stopped journalists from filming. Call for solidarity/cameras from legal team at 1266 Queen St W. Everyone I know is panicking, afraid for the people they know who were involved in organizing ANY political action. avocet, what's your status?
posted by dustyasymptotes at 2:13 PM on June 27, 2010


Ask the people who own the windows.

The windows aren't owned by people. They are owned by legal abstractions.
posted by enn at 9:44 PM on June 26 [+] [!]


Tell that to the wage-earners who dodge the shards and who have to clean it up, or are they just abstarctions, genius?
posted by jonmc at 2:48 PM on June 27, 2010


would y'all please stop complaining about smashed windows. It's not violent. it keeps the glaziers in business. i'm sad to read the first twenty posts and see nothing but liberal whining about windows and fires. y'all know that the cops do half of that anyway, right?

What happened to support for diversity of tactics? how can you complain that all the media talks about is fires and windows, when that is all you are complaining about yourself?

What about Toronto being under siege, ferchristsakes.

Thanks to every one who posted links, sorry for all the garbage in the thread.
posted by eustatic at 3:08 PM on June 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


thanks for the update on what violence is, ghandi
posted by found missing at 3:22 PM on June 27, 2010


dustyasymptotes, apparently a few of our peeps have been arrested. At home, heading back for 8ish – will keep checking in.
posted by avocet at 3:23 PM on June 27, 2010


Multiple reports on #G20report of baton advances, arrests now happening at Queen and Spadina.
posted by rollbiz at 3:41 PM on June 27, 2010


Violence is never the answer.

But it's always the unspoken question.

FWIW, the protests weren't covered at all here in Sweden until cars were set alight, so if raising awareness is one strategy to achieve critical mass, I'd say that a handful of teenagers did better work than the thousands who acted less violently.

This is not the fault neither of the "black block" nor the multitude of "peaceful demonstrators."
posted by monocultured at 4:00 PM on June 27, 2010


would y'all please stop complaining about smashed windows. It's not violent. it keeps the glaziers in business. i'm sad to read the first twenty posts and see nothing but liberal whining about windows and fires. y'all know that the cops do half of that anyway, right?

You have got to be fucking joking.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:18 PM on June 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


it just occurred to me that these fucknuts and the teapartiers are probably natural allies.
posted by empath at 4:28 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]




If that's happening now, they are getting pissed on. Raining like a motherfucker here.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:37 PM on June 27, 2010


would y'all please stop complaining about smashed windows. It's not violent. it keeps the glaziers in business.

I'm assuming this is a reference to the famous broken window parable in economics, about wether a vandal breaking a window helps or hurts the economy, with Keynesians and Austrian schools differing. Oddly relevant given the economic debate around G20 as well as the real life examples.

And now it's pouring rain outside. I'm pretty sure they're getting soaked.
posted by bobo123 at 4:39 PM on June 27, 2010


Restrained police response?
posted by rollbiz at 4:46 PM on June 27, 2010


Y'know, in 1988, Toronto hosted a G7 conference, with a staggering security bill of six million dollars. Of course, in those days, police wore ball caps and carried billy clubs. It was a very different time: world leaders like Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Kohl strolled the streets of Toronto.

It was a bit embarrasing for Canadians, though: Our doofus prime minister went to great lengths to get next to the American President, just like a fifteen-year-old with a hopeless crush in the school club pictures.

Plus ca change.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:13 PM on June 27, 2010


The police response was restrained, until the asshats in black ratcheted up the tension level. And given their penchant for disappearing back into the crowd to change clothes, police presumably had a semi-rational belief that the violent douchebags could by this point be anybody.

That being said... the woman in question was practicing textbook civil disobedience, looked like; not walking away when the cops tell you to. There are consequences for that behaviour, particularly after a bunch of complete pricks have decided to break the city. And that being said, going to tear gas was probably not a wise move and not really justified. She looked pretty nonthreatening. Any bets on the film/chip in her camera remaining unwiped? Didn't think so.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:17 PM on June 27, 2010


would y'all please stop complaining about smashed windows. It's not violent. it keeps the glaziers in business

and keeps Corning Glass in business, a division of Dow Chemical, one of those "legal abstractions." Every window broken adds another few bucks to a great CEO salary. Way to go.
posted by yesster at 6:02 PM on June 27, 2010


http://www.justin.tv/g20cp24

live feed from the news org with detained reporters
posted by Paddle to Sea at 6:12 PM on June 27, 2010


Tends to distract the TV audience from what it is exactly that is being protested....

Violence is never the answer.

But it's always the unspoken question.


That second line sounds Wildean, but I have no idea what you mean by it. Tiring weekend on my part, perhaps. Could you elaborate?
posted by IndigoJones at 6:21 PM on June 27, 2010


This, however, is an unqualified instance of police overreaction. A bunch of protesters singing the national anthem and sitting down then had rubber bullets fired at them.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:26 PM on June 27, 2010


Apparently I borked the link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Heb9BXjYcII&feature=youtu.be
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:27 PM on June 27, 2010


Video from the Unspace office on Queen near Spadina. Cops go mental on protestors singing the national anthem. It's very what the fuck.
posted by chunking express at 6:28 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jinx.
posted by chunking express at 6:29 PM on June 27, 2010


Man, shame on CBC; they carried the NewsWorld coverage of the riots on the regular channel yesterday afternoon, tonight they're rerunning England vs. Germany.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:29 PM on June 27, 2010


Jesus Christ, that video is fucked up.
posted by bewilderbeast at 6:42 PM on June 27, 2010


The police response was restrained, until the asshats in black ratcheted up the tension level.

Sorry, but that's not an explanation. It's an excuse.

That being said... the woman in question was practicing textbook civil disobedience, looked like; not walking away when the cops tell you to.

I didn't hear them tell her anything, did you? Doesn't mean it didn't happen, but it doesn't mean it did either. Numerous reports, including from several members of the credentialed press, are indicating that the police have not been doing a great job indicating what it is that they would like peaceably assembled people to do.

And that being said, going to tear gas was probably not a wise move and not really justified. She looked pretty nonthreatening.


She did look pretty non-threatening. And even if there was excellent cause to detain her, there was no apparent cause to subdue her with tear gas.

More "restrained police response"...
posted by rollbiz at 6:45 PM on June 27, 2010


(sorry, didn't see that chunking express posted the same vid as mine)
posted by rollbiz at 6:46 PM on June 27, 2010


(and dnab too, upon further review)
posted by rollbiz at 6:47 PM on June 27, 2010


That photo of Queen and Spadina and the crowd pinned in by 2 walls of cops has depressed me more than anything. I've been watching the coverage with sadness and frustration - Toronto is my beloved hometown and I'm not there right now (literally a continent away, in California) and it's surreal to watch one's hometown where I spent 30 years suddenly transform into a police state, into this news story where the violence overshadows everything. I understand that if it bleeds, it leads - doesn't mean it's easy to watch the bleed though. 600 arrests seems a bit like they're arresting first and sorting out the details at detention, which is a little troublesome.

I've known anarchists and more law-and-order types in my life and like most things, I always see 'both' major sides of the issue (validity in the protests, and concerns about violence). Now I just don't know what to think any more. I wonder how much of the tango dance between the 'anarchists' versus the 'police' is shaped by the dance partner of the media constantly cutting into the dance, thus making both dance partners fuck up their moves, start egging each other on, and start to step on each other's feet - whereas without the media, the dance between civility and protest has a balance, and plays out, and the dance of civilization goes on. Instead, the rule of mobs - any groupthink - takes over, we fuck up the dance, miss the chance for dialogue, and I wish there was a referee to come in and just... stop the bad dancing and make everyone just calm the hell down. And in society, there is no referee, really - is there?
posted by rmm at 6:49 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


They've arrested more people this weekend than they did when Trudeau instituted the war measures act. And the PLQ actually killed someone.
posted by chunking express at 6:53 PM on June 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sorry, but that's not an explanation. It's an excuse.

Actually not, but thanks for playing. That escalation of tensions in the city is precisely the reason cops have gotten much more--and in some cases overly--aggressive. Had the smashing and burning not happened yesterday, I am pretty confident that the policing model would have been the same today as it was before the assholes in black took over; quiet and patient.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:59 PM on June 27, 2010


I've been googling without luck, anyone have any idea how much individual police were being paid this weekend? I can't see this as regular hourly work (which is about 35-40 bucks an hour to start with the Toronto police).
posted by saucysault at 7:06 PM on June 27, 2010


would y'all please stop complaining about smashed windows. It's not violent. it keeps the glaziers in business. i'm sad to read the first twenty posts and see nothing but liberal whining about windows and fires. y'all know that the cops do half of that anyway, right?

You have got to be fucking joking.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:18 PM


dnab, I don't know if you were responding to the part I bolded, but see this for a... quasi-convincing presentation of evidence for this claim.
posted by skwt at 7:07 PM on June 27, 2010


this is the video chungking express linked to, no login required...

http://www.youtube.com/v/Heb9BXjYcII

Everyone was let go minutes ago btw; police parted, crowd cheered, everyone that was left dispersed.
posted by bobo123 at 7:07 PM on June 27, 2010


anyone have any idea how much individual police were being paid this weekend?

saucysault, I've heard reports of both $90/hr and $100/hr, but those were both word-of-mouth.
posted by skwt at 7:08 PM on June 27, 2010


Actually not, but thanks for playing...Had the smashing and burning not happened yesterday, I am pretty confident that the policing model would have been the same today as it was before the assholes in black took over; quiet and patient.


ex·cuse, [v. ik-skyooz; n. ik-skyoos]

2. to offer an apology for; seek to remove the blame of.
3. to serve as an apology or justification for; justify.
posted by rollbiz at 7:09 PM on June 27, 2010




It's weird how MetaFilter has one set of rules for what general statements about groups of people you can make for protesters, and another for every other group.

Except christians, republicans, tea-partiers, southerners, Philly sports fans (wait no that got a MeTa), hipsters, etc. There's people here on your team, too.

y'all know that the cops do half of that anyway, right?

You've surely noticed the general attitude towards police on this site, and I don't see a strong "the police are doing a fantastic job" theme here. The police may 'do half of that', but there's also another 'half of that.' In this situation there's plenty of malevolent shit-disturbers on both sides on which to heap scorn.
posted by Kirk Grim at 7:21 PM on June 27, 2010


No, it was an explanation for, ffs, the heightened aggression of the police today versus yesterday. As I pointed out upthread, the habit of the black bloc of melting into the crowd and changing clothes has made all crowds, from a police point of view, much more suspicious and much more dangerous--with good reason. Go look at the cop cars burning, the kids in black smashing windows and dragging things out on the street. When they were dressed in black on Saturday the cops knew who they were dealing with. Then they changed clothes and could be anybody. So yes, that in fact is what is known as an 'explanation' in the real world, and is, in fact, not an excuse. Perhaps you could be very kind and stop drinking from the stupid cup, and instead pay attention to what is actually going on.

Those of us here on the ground in Toronto have, I guarantee you, a rather better handle on what's happening than someone a couple thousand kilometres away.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:23 PM on June 27, 2010


dnab, I don't know if you were responding to the part I bolded, but see this for a... quasi-convincing presentation of evidence for this claim.

I was responding to the entire paragraph... and um, I'm fresh out of tinfoil hats today. I find it distinctly unsurprising that a group of people known for paramilitarism would end up buying similar boots to those used by the police. Those photos aren't even close to clear enough to establish that they're identical. That there are/were agents provocateurs in and amongst the protesters this weekend is tolerably obvious to anyone with a brain. Suggesting that they are responsible for much of the damage? I don't think so. These kids have been agitating all over the internet for ages about throwing a spanner in the works here.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:31 PM on June 27, 2010


dnab, I don't know if you were responding to the part I bolded, but see this for a... quasi-convincing presentation of evidence for this claim.

That is some of the most absurd speculating I have ever seen. His basis for saying someone is an agent provocateur is in one case a guy's build being "slim" and it looked like he goes to the gym (LIKE A SOLDIER, RIGHT?!). The other he decides a blurry pic of boot worn by the guy on top of the cop car in Toronto is obviously the same as those huge bulky armoured boots the riot cops wear. I know about the first photo, I do. That was for real. But the rest of that page is so... I mean that link is just so... really?
posted by Kirk Grim at 7:32 PM on June 27, 2010


If your best excuse for over-reaction, hyper-aggressiveness, and brutatilty on the part of your police force is that you are there and that I'm not, that says volumes about the objective strength of your argument.

We live in a small world now. I spent most of my afternoon listening to Toronto PD scanner communications, and matching them up to live or recent videos of their actions. Other people reading our discourse can see the same videos I did, and I'm hoping someone archived the scanner broadcasts. It matches what happens at most of these events, the police are fatigued and irritated by the end, and they go for force rather than reason by the end. The press were not "the asshats in black", nor was the woman who was muzzle blasted with tear gas. They fucking shot at her with what looks very much like a shotgun, for fuck's sake.

Do you care to explain to me how my lack of proximity failed to show me that shooting shotgun muzzle loads of tear gas at a lone, non-threatening protestor, or a group of people sitting on a road and singing "O Canada" is not a gross overreaction by the police?
posted by rollbiz at 7:43 PM on June 27, 2010


Okay, let's try again. I'll use smaller words.

Yesterday, before the black bloc started smashing things and torching cars, the police were very restrained.

After them, they have been less restrained.

Is that clearer now? Perhaps you also missed the link above, quote, "This, however, is an unqualified instance of police overreaction. A bunch of protesters singing the national anthem and sitting down then had rubber bullets fired at them." (Link in the following comment, as apparently my html sucks today). Or the even earlier comment when I said "And that being said, going to tear gas was probably not a wise move and not really justified. She looked pretty nonthreatening."

This is the problem with your wrongheaded and frankly ill-spirited use of 'excuse' to characterize what I said. An explanation is simply that; A was caused by B. An excuse is saying that A was caused by B and is therefore okay. You will note, if you bother to actually read what I wrote instead of engaging in the tiresome MeFi-responding-to-dnab habit of reading what you have decided I wrote, that I never said that.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:50 PM on June 27, 2010


An excuse, as I already stated as specifically as I can, by definition only requires only the removal of blame from an entity, and the justification of their actions.

Use whatever sized words you'd like, dnab, but you're excusing poor behavior and you're further using the excuse that I'm too simple and far away from the REAL TRUTH that you know to possibly comprehend it all.

You're certainly welcome to highlight the comments that are most favorable to your argument. So am I, so here's your excuses:

"That escalation of tensions in the city is precisely the reason cops have gotten much more--and in some cases overly--aggressive. Had the smashing and burning not happened yesterday, I am pretty confident that the policing model would have been the same today as it was before the assholes in black took over; quiet and patient."

"The police response was restrained, until the asshats in black ratcheted up the tension level. And given their penchant for disappearing back into the crowd to change clothes, police presumably had a semi-rational belief that the violent douchebags could by this point be anybody."

Does that make sense to you now, or do I also need to use "smaller words"?
posted by rollbiz at 8:06 PM on June 27, 2010


If nothing else good comes out of the weekend's events in Toronto, at least we got this photo oh and WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON THE GUY HAS A TRUMPET and his pubes are showing.
posted by item at 8:11 PM on June 27, 2010


My god, you are thick. They are not excuses. Behaviour was one way, something happened, behaviour changed. That behaviour is the cause of the change. What about that do you find difficult to understand? At no point have I said that behaviour is okay--in fact, I have stated the opposite, despite your attempts to paint me as having said so.

But, y'know, facts. Who needs 'em?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:13 PM on June 27, 2010


And at any rate, I will assume from what I hear from my family up there that you do not live in a walled prison, and that a small percentage of people exhibiting bad behavior does not excuse the poor treatment of the peaceful and well-behaved majority. But who knows, I am "a couple thousand kilometers away", after all...What could I possibly know?!?
posted by rollbiz at 8:13 PM on June 27, 2010


and that a small percentage of people exhibiting bad behavior does not excuse the poor treatment of the peaceful and well-behaved majority.

Either show me where I said that or drop the fucking strawman.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:15 PM on June 27, 2010


Jesus, talk about thick. You've justified the goddamn behavior. It's right here in the thread.
posted by rollbiz at 8:15 PM on June 27, 2010


No, actually, I haven't. You can keep saying it as much as you like--go on, fill your boots. Your constant repetition is, however, at this point deliberately lying for some reason. Perhaps it makes you feel better, I don't know.

I have not justified the actions of the police. I have explained why they have happened. And have criticised the overreaction. I really don't see what is so difficult about this for you, but that's what has been going on here; I say something, you lie about what I said. It's time for that to stop.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:20 PM on June 27, 2010


I presented your justifications, linked to your own words, just a few minutes ago. They're excuses, and you made them.

I'm not worried about convincing you at this point, frankly you're prone to drama and I'm not going to try to win a drama-off with you. Go enjoy your victory or whatever, I'll let the evidence stand for itself.
posted by rollbiz at 8:26 PM on June 27, 2010


NO, you ridiculous man, no they are not excuses. Stop LYING about what I have said, especially when I keep telling you that what you think I have said is WRONG.

Let's try an analogy. You are walking down the street. You are almost hit by a car. You spend the rest of the day fearful of stepping off the sidewalk and thus don't make it home. That is what happened. The reason for your fear is almost being hit by a car. That is not an excuse for your fear, that is not a justification for your fear, it is very simple B follows A causality. Nothing more and nothing less.

That is what I have been saying, and for some reason you seem to think that repeatedly lying about what I have said will somehow do.. something. I don't really know what.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:29 PM on June 27, 2010


rollbiz, I too have no idea what you are talking about. Another analogy: I am burglarized. I get a dog for protection. The dog bites someone. Being burglarized explains why I got the dog. It does not excuse him biting anyone.
posted by desjardins at 8:41 PM on June 27, 2010


(where anyone = innocent person)
posted by desjardins at 8:42 PM on June 27, 2010


rollbiz wrote: "Use whatever sized words you'd like, dnab, but you're excusing poor behavior and you're further using the excuse that I'm too simple and far away from the REAL TRUTH that you know to possibly comprehend it all. "

Oh, fuck. You're pulling out the dumbshit "give me a reason, not an excuse" canard. Guess what, reasons and excuses are interchangeable. They are one and the same thing, differing only in the eye of the asshat.

Can you tell I've had that horseshit pulled on me one too many times in my life? My usual response is to just ignore the moron using it, but given that this is MeFi, I choose to believe you're not a moron or an asshat, and are instead just incapable of seeing the conversation from the other side for whatever reason.

Or, more shortly, any cause given for any action can always be labeled as an excuse if someone chooses to do so, therefore saying "give me a reason, not an excuse" is bad form.
posted by wierdo at 8:43 PM on June 27, 2010


I'd still like a reason *or* an excuse for Johnny Trumpetpubes, whom I linked to upthread.
posted by item at 9:33 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


He looks high as fuck to me. I think he might be the same guy who was perching on the war memorial on University... there was a photo of that in one of mightygodking's pieces on Torontoist.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:36 PM on June 27, 2010


I'm too upset to talk. Many friends jailed, beaten, sexually assaulted by police.
posted by avocet at 10:09 PM on June 27, 2010


Jesus christ. Sexual assault? Seriously?

This may be a good place to start (Clayton Ruby's firm). You may also want to look into contacting Alan Young who has made something of a specialty of cases involving false arrest and such.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:15 PM on June 27, 2010


I totally disagree with dnab. I think that it's pretty clear that the police were ordered to clear out areas such as Queen St W for a modicum of rioting, such as might make good pictures and video for the media. They attacked peaceful protesters in Queen's Park. In the absolutely peaceful jail solidarity protest on Sunday morning I attended with dustyasympotes they attacked unprovoked with "muzzle blasts" and tear gas and rubber bullets (see video and photos, in which we both appear, not that you know what we look like: 1, 2 [sorry for the facebook video link, which is not viewable for non-FB members, but I don't know what the youtube link is at the moment]. I know you've criticized police overreaction, but I have not seen it against protesters who were smashing things, only against peaceful protesters. Nonviolent organizers in Toronto (even if you find them obnoxious) were picked up starting Friday night/Saturday morning. The police seemed, beyond guarding the fence, to have set their sights on wrecking the nonviolent organizations' leaderships.

I think the smashing of windows and burning of cars was counterproductive (assuming it was all done by protesters and not aided by agents provocateurs) but the relatively low level of property destruction is nothing next to the assault on real people. The media van vandalism is particularly ugly (and actually the ones I would most suspect of police involvement, considering their later intimidation of media to stay away or face arrest). Also, I have to say that I think banks can afford to replace the glass easily, and I saw no "mom 'n' pop" stores or restaurants with smashed windows as I walked along Queen St W after the smashers had moved on. All such establishments were chains, although I realize franchising arrangements mean small-time franchise operators may have to pick up the tab, not the larger corporation.

It is to excuse the police crackdown on community organizers, nonviolent protest, and civil liberties to set the date of the crackdown at Saturday afternoon/evening. It started before what happened Saturday night. We may debate what exactly was going on Saturday evening (and that is why I support a public inquiry) but the arrests and police crackdown started before and did not target those causing violence, only those organizing dissent.
posted by Gnatcho at 10:44 PM on June 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


Also, I'm just want to note that I'm not hinging my argument on no "mom 'n' pop" stores getting their windows smashed or something like that. I didn't see it, and photos I've seen don't seem to indicate that was the case. I'm wouldn't be surprised if it happened at least once.
posted by Gnatcho at 10:46 PM on June 27, 2010


Oh, sorry about that – only a few people I know sexually assaulted, but many were beaten and detained.

what the fuck.
posted by avocet at 10:52 PM on June 27, 2010


rawr, my /sarcasm tag got blocked out after my 'sorry about that', not thinking straight
posted by avocet at 11:38 PM on June 27, 2010


the relatively low level of property destruction is nothing next to the assault on real people

I made this my Facebook status. I felt like I had to say something while most of my Toronto friends and relatives appeared to side with the police or at least feel they were somehow forced into this behavior. What I'm reading makes me sick to my stomach. Thank you avocet and Gnatcho for the first person reports and I'd love to hear updates.

Found this via reddit: The Erosion of "Rights": a quick descent
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:17 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


>>Violence is never the answer.

>But it's always the unspoken question.

That second line sounds Wildean, but I have no idea what you mean by it. Tiring weekend on my part, perhaps. Could you elaborate?


Smashing windows of a bank will probably not change their policy, but unless you can hold the threat of violence (physical, financial, whatever) over their heads they have no incentive to talk to you. Thus: Violence?

Could have been put clearer, but who can resist sounding Wildean?

Also, looking back up I would have changed it into "Violence is seldom the best answer" but absolutes make for better quotes.
posted by monocultured at 1:16 AM on June 28, 2010


Just got home from putting tomorrow's quickie broadsheet together. Would do anything to be at Eastern right now in solidarity but can't drive and need to sleep and am totally incoherent. Been watching video, stills and now first-person accounts right in front of me of people's experiences at the hands of police. At first I heard about the many sexist remarks flung around by cops escorting people to jail, then as others were released they reported that male cops were strip-searching female detainees. Reports of rape. It has been such an honour to work with the brave people at the Alternative Media Centre/Toronto Media Co-op all week, many of whom have ended up in jail and in the hospital this week to bring these stories out. Press conference at 318R Harbord St. tomorrow morning at 10.

I'm so angry. I'm so upset. but I am so mobilized and now I truly understand the importance of direct action.

If you are in Toronto and have a car, please consider driving down to Eastern.

I'm going to go to bed and cry. And nobody laid a finger on me this week. I feel something close to guilty about that.
posted by avocet at 1:55 AM on June 28, 2010


sorry. If you are in Toronto and have a car, please consider driving down to Eastern and helping a few people get home. Many people are being released without shoes.
posted by avocet at 1:59 AM on June 28, 2010


dirtynumbangelboy, if the cops wanted to arrest rock-throwers, they would have. What, do you think they didn't know people were going to smash up the Starbucks during WTO/G8/G20? The police deliberately let damage happen on the first day, then bring the hammer down on everybody the next day. It's a tidy, well-scripted operation. Of course, for a billion dollars, it darn well ought to be.
posted by ryanrs at 2:10 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a tidy, well-scripted operation.

There's even a name for it.
posted by stinkycheese at 5:37 AM on June 28, 2010


If anyone's interested, the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition has a great newsletter and has been following this closely.
posted by heatherann at 5:41 AM on June 28, 2010


I'm really just tired of this pointless G/whatever theater. They can protest all they want, but it will never accomplish anything besides making the protesters feel better about themselves and make the rest of us think they are well intentioned naifs at best and violent morons at worst.

They need a new model of dissent. This tired 60s radicalism is not the way to go, and they're no more interesting or effective than the tea party protests.

The biggest part of the problem is that these people are invaders of the cities that they are protesting in -- just as much, if not moreso than the G20 groups -- and don't have the support of the local populace. If they did, they'd much more easily control the streets.

I really feel like there's a new model of disruptive protest available that could leverage the fact that the movement is decentralized and mobile. The police quite simply can't move as fast as a flash mob and can't be every where at once. It seems to me that the smart thing to do would be to NOT go where the police are. If the G20 is in Toronto, go protest in Ottawa, while all the police are halfway across the country.
posted by empath at 5:47 AM on June 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Riot police had closed off the intersection of Queen and Spadina, and there was a fleet of police vehicles and officers arresting a naked protester (how bizarre) at Queen and Peter. This was all less than a half hour before the second car went up in flames. Police actually retreated down Spadina towards Richmond just before someone lit the second car on fire, only to retake the intersection after everyone had rushed in to see what had happened.

I can't claim to know anything about police tactics, but I don't understand why, with all that police presence in the area, they were unable or unwilling to a) stop the second arsonist, or b) secure the area around the car quickly. Instead, they just played the same game they played before of blocking off Queen Street and charging west towards a crowd of angry onlookers.

Police made the most arrests and used the most aggressive tactics on a day where the fewest and smallest protests were scheduled. You can say that was in response to the vandalism from the previous day, but that's no excuse; police had the manpower and firepower to deal with that problem yesterday, and they didn't. Attacking peaceful protesters later that night and then random passersby on Sunday is like kicking a puppy the day after a rottweiler bites you on the hand.
posted by chrominance at 5:48 AM on June 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Today's Toronto Star editorial sums it up pretty well. You'd think that with 10,000 extra cops on hand, it would've been possible to protect not just the suits behind the fence, but the city and its residents as well. Apparently that was never the intention. A bully is a bully, whether he's throwing rocks or wielding a baton.
posted by Crane Shot at 7:05 AM on June 28, 2010


They had to let the rottweiler bite them (actually an out-of-work poodle in disguise) because only then will they be seen to be necessary. After the public sees that, all dogs are suspect. And puppies are just latent dogs.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:06 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]




The Globe & Mail has a rundown of Lisan Jutra's live-tweets while she was penned in yesterday and then detained at Queen & Spadina, after what started as a peaceful bike rally.
posted by dnesan at 7:32 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Even the Toronto Sun thinks the cops were out of line. What a fucking joke this entire weekend was. One billion dollars well spent. I bet Harper is laughing his ass off.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:35 AM on June 28, 2010








They can protest all they want, but it will never accomplish anything besides making the protesters feel better about themselves and make the rest of us think they are well intentioned naifs at best and violent morons at worst.

They need a new model of dissent. This tired 60s radicalism is not the way to go, and they're no more interesting or effective than the tea party protests.


Thanks, empath. Your whole comment speaks precisely to my frustration with not just what went down in T.O. this weekend but the whole G-8/G-20/G-Whatever street protest issue as it's played out over the past decade. Many, including me, have referred to it as "theater" in this thread. Problem is, it's not succeeding as theater; because it's not communicating anything fresh, merely playing to various entrenched positions. Blame the media coverage if you must, blame the Illuminati, blame the Bilderberg Group ... but the fact remains that as long as the protests continue to dissolve so predictably into the kinds of messes we saw this weekend, they are FAILING ABSOLUTELY at the task of influencing the positive, thoughtful, progressive change that the world so desperately needs.

I really feel like there's a new model of disruptive protest available that could leverage the fact that the movement is decentralized and mobile. The police quite simply can't move as fast as a flash mob and can't be every where at once. It seems to me that the smart thing to do would be to NOT go where the police are. If the G20 is in Toronto, go protest in Ottawa, while all the police are halfway across the country.

Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.
posted by philip-random at 9:24 AM on June 28, 2010


So when does this last 24 hours get to be its own fpp?

sigh
posted by avocet at 9:53 AM on June 28, 2010


It seems to me that the smart thing to do would be to NOT go where the police are.

Many if not most of the folks who found themselves walled in by riot cops last night had not gone near the fence. The "look wrong and be arrested' zone did not extend to Queen and Spadina.

It was police overreach and an erosion of civil rights whether it made good theatre or not.
posted by Paddle to Sea at 10:02 AM on June 28, 2010


What I was praying for was thousands of people marching peacefully to the security zone, sitting down, and refusing to provide ID. Civili disobedience at its best.

Instead, we got smashed windows, and cops rushing people singing the national fucking anthem.

I'd love for there to be an inquiry, but it won't solve anything.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:09 AM on June 28, 2010


I was there on Saturday. I do not currently live in toronto, but I have family there, was born nearby.

Disclosure:
I am not part of the Black Block and I spent the entire weekend avoiding confrontation and arrest while trying to take part in peaceful demonstrations. However, I support Black Block tactics in principle (I think that property damage/violence against property ONLY is a valid action) but not strategically at this kind of protest (bad press, etc).

First, from what I heard/didn't see:

At Queen and Spadina, the Black Block separated and ran down queens to bay street and king. the police were evidently not prepared or willing to stop this. They smashed some windows and two police cars that were inexplicably left on queen street were vandalised BUT NOT SET FIRE TO AT THIS TIME. The black block continued to university st. and king-ish area where corporate bank windows were smashed and 2 police cars were vandalised and set fire to. I believe a CBC van was also vandalized. The Black Block returned to queen's park to 'deblock' and some additional confrontation occurred, an unmarked police van was vandalised but not burned. I only have hazy info about what happened here, but a bulk of the peaceful protesters (everyone who turned north at queen and spadina, the majority of the labour groups, etc) had returned here as the 'free speech' area. At this point there was some violence from police, someone was somewhat trampled by police on horseback. But my information about this part is very hazy.

From what I did hear and see:

I marched with the legal, mainly labour group organized march that left queen's park, travelled south to queen street, then turned to spadina before heading north back to the park. I stayed at Spadina and Queen's. This march contained all the labour unions, women's rights groups, communisists, green peace, marching bands, etc etc. and a small visible Black Block.

As I mentioned, I stayed around queen and spading, as many many others did. Police were blocking any further advance south, where the fence/actual g20 was. The main line between police and protesters was on spadina southbound. This was a peaceful but loud line. Police in riot gear were holding the line and protestors were right at the front chanting, cheering, etc. No violence or scuffles at all that I saw. No protesters looking for a physical confrontation. Big mix of people, old, young, etc. Lots of people were also milling around on queen street all the way down towards university.

I was in this area for a while and eventually back tracked down queen street towards university street. I came to the police line bisecting queen street near the steve's music store. There were two police lines with protesters on either side. It seemed like the police were surrounded by protesters on each end of the street, with around 200-300 meters between the two lines. Inside, were the two police cars that the black block vandalized earlier. The siren lights were on, and the cars seemed fine besides some of the windows smashed and the windshield of one splintered. The atmosphere at this line was also quite peaceful, although rowdy. People were standing and chanting but there was no scuffles or arrests or violence on either side that I saw. The crowd was spread quite thin, many people milling around on Queen street, checking out each line, keeping an eye on what was happening.

I do not know the circumstances that caused these police to come to be surrounded with the two police cars inside but it was very strange. As I have said, the protesters here were non-militant and non-violent and spread very thin. There were almost as many photographers and people milling around watching as actual chanting protesters. Not a dense hard line or anything like that. It seemed strange that the police were surrounded and not leaving. Over the course of an hour or so, this double line moved very slowly and gradually towards university street, leaving the two police cars behind. This appeared very strange to me and everyone else observing, since it seemed obvious that there would only be verbal resistance (booing, etc), if the police moved their cars or made some other effort to remove them from the area. Not to mention they could easily have dispersed the family friendly non-militant crowd surrounding them if they wanted.

After they abandoned the cars, they were further vandalized, not by black blockers but mainly by giddy jocks or, to be frank, stoned drug users. This happened in sight of the slowly 'retreating' police double-line. These were just your normal toronto resident with a bit of immaturity and hooliganism. Not militant activists or anything of the sort. I left the area at this time, but as I understand it, shortly after these two cars were set fire by the same non-militant hooligans, not to anyone's great surprise. Queen street remained a large milling about area for a while, the cars burned for at least several minutes before police moved to disperse people.

These two cars were not burned by the Black Block during the initial surge, or by violent protesters. They were left behind in very strange (to me, suspicious) circumstances to a crowd containing goofy elements that would clearly light them on fire, given the atmosphere.

Many of you have been outraged at the '4 police cars torched by the black block' i hope you have read this far. I do not think the cars were literal 'props' or 'fake cars' but I DO think they were intentionally abandoned knowing they would provide a very nice media stunt which would justify violent police action to the public. many of your comments reflect the success of this. If I had been quicker thinking about the whole thing, I would've personally spent the afternoon guarding the cars from their imminent torching. But alas.

As for the rest of the Black Block actions. I retraced their steps to university street. Only corporate windows were smashed or broken that I saw. I did not see any local toronto business's that had been vandalized. As far as I know, no one was physically injured by the Black Block's actions.
posted by The Wig at 10:10 AM on June 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


I was also the victim of some minor police brutality. After the events in my account above, I and my group decided to leave the protest area for the day around 5 or 6pm. I expected police to begin dispersing people as sunset approached and, as a peaceful protester, I wanted to leave before that even happened. We had dinner at Full Moon vegetarian restaurant (not sure of the location, but it was well away from the protest area) and then we walked to Bloor street and someone got a coffee at a vegetarian restaurant on Bloor at Bathurst. This is well away from any protests or police action. Bloor street looked maybe a bit slow for a saturday I suppose. We left the restaurant, to go to our car, parked in a parking garage near Bloor and Bay st. I am with my partner S, and our female friend A and our male francophone friend M.

Immediately upon walking down bloor out of the restaurant we were surround by 4 police who stopped us and began questioning us. They were very aggressive. They rushed up and stopped us from walking, surrounded us in front of a store front in the middle of the sidewalk. They asked where we were going and I said to our car. At this point, my memory is only good for the interaction between be and the cop who was questioning me. He asked to see in my bag, and I took my backpack off and said "OK". I took my back off and started to open it. The cop took hold of one side of my bag and pulled only a little forecefully but I did not set go, saying "I am going to show you what is in my bag but I do not consent to this search".

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.

Keep in mind this is on Bloor street. During regular Saturday night traffic. People were stopping around us and watching this, or watching from their cars. I was too focused on this cop to be too much aware of what was happening around me though. S and A and M were all being searched and verbally intimidated as well. This wasn't in a dark alley and this was far from any protests or 'action'.

The cop proceeded to look through my bag. While making 'witty' comments about the innocuous things in my my bad (like a brown bandana which he mistook for red).

"What's this? A red bandana? You know what people with red bandana's have been doing today?"

I want to say "The commies? what?" but instead I shakingly point out it is a brown bandana.

And pulls out my black 'Talk is Poison' band t-shit, reading it and saying simply 'I agree".

I had nothing of interest in my bag, nor did my friends so they let us go. We were all extremely shaken. We walked a block down Bloor street and saw the same group of cops stopping someone in a car for a similar search. Then two steps later another group of police walk up to us with the same line. "Stop. Where are you going."

We explain that we have just been searched and that we are going to our car to go home. These cops are yelling at us, that we burned their cars today, that they heard us taunting them just now, calling them pigs (which was untrue). One pushes me physically as I take my bag off, and another jabs A in the gut after she says "you don't have the right to do this. this is an illegal search. we are just going to our car" They were saying 'we can do whatever we want'.

This cop lets me show me what is in my bag myself, so I take him through my leftover noodles and change of clothes. He is satisfied, but rude as hell and leaves me along quickly. While we have been getting searched, something is happening a few meters up the street with another search and my cop goes to that group. Another has finished with S and taken her ID and walked over to that group of cops. Someone had been pushed to the ground and about a dozen cops who had shown up were forming a wall to prevent anyone from seeing what was happening. M is still being searched by one cop and another is telling S and M and I to move on. S is protesting "You have my ID. If we keep walking we will get stopped again and arrested without IDs. What do you expect us to do? We can't leave without our IDs." The cop searching M finishes searching him and leaves to the other group of cops, taking M's ID. The cop S has been talking to has stayed behind. M walks up and said "he has my ID. he has my ID." The officer says "stay here" and M repeats his concern. The officer says "stay here and shut up" while grabbing M's throat, pushing him by the throat to nearby stairs and throwing him onto the stairs saying "stay here and shut up" again and then walks away. We keep M and everyone calm.

We wait watching the cops in their group up the street dealing with whoever is under them all.

After 5 minutes or so, a cop comes back with S and M's IDs. As we left he said, menacingly, "see you tomorrow".

Indeed, we were stopped a third time on the way to our car but the cops were polite and non violent. By this point as soon as they walked over, I just threw my bag on the groud and started emptying it in front of them. These police were nicer. Their response to us saying we had already been stopped twice was 'yeah, we are this close to martial law'.

I know this happened to hundreds of people on saturday night away from the protest areas but accounts of it are just starting to come out and now you have mine.


I am a tall white male. I was with my partner S, who is a short white girl, our friend A, who is another short white girl and our male friend M who is francophone and shorter than me. We all had backpacks full of mostly a change of clothes and snacks. I was the only one wearing mostly black, the rest of us were dressed like normal hip student 20-somethings. I understand that we fit a profile of people being stopped by police but I do not think that justifies their actions or attitudes, let alone what I think about repeated random unconsenting searches in a canadian city. The police were being baiting, verbally aggressive and physically violent with us. We were afraid, voicing our protest but cooperating fully. It felt to us they were trying to get a rise out of us to justify arresting us even with nothing in our bags (us or take us to the hospital) and we were doing everything we could not to give in to their harassment.

For those toronto residents getting mad at people coming into your city and breaking windows and burning a few police cars.. I think you should be more upset at another group of thugs dressed in black who were walking around your streets on Saturday hurting, hitting, harassing, accusing, insulting and terrifying other breathing human beings.
posted by The Wig at 10:58 AM on June 28, 2010 [14 favorites]


Nobody is lobbing firebombs in Toronto and that somebody somewhere once upon a time did so is also irrelevant.

A month ago? With persons responsible stating "the group will be at the G20 summit in Toronto June 26-27 and at the G8 Summit near Huntsville, Ont., June 25-26"?

You're not even bothering to try to understand the comment before responding to it.

My $.02: if peaceful protest is going to regain its effectiveness, we need to lobby the media to cover it; dissaude them of the notion that we are not interested unless there is violence.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:37 AM on June 28, 2010


OK my comments are ridiculously long. Sorry, I'm upset. To summarize:

It is pretty clear that only 2 police cars were actually burned by the Black Bloc(k). The other two were slightly vandalized by the Block and later abandoned in a strange way to a peaceful mixed crowd, in which some actual typical hooligans further vandalized them and eventually lit them on fire.

I did nothing illegal and was physically assaulted while cooperating with a police office performing a search on Bloor street far away from any 'action'. I cooperated but my lack of consent to the search was met with a violent physical response and the quote: "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?"
posted by The Wig at 11:38 AM on June 28, 2010


Speaking of puppies...
posted by stinkycheese at 11:48 AM on June 28, 2010


That's disgusting, The Wig. What's even more disgusting is that a lot of people are going to read the paper and watch the news and conclude that everyone who got treated that way (and worse) by the police got what they deserved.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:57 AM on June 28, 2010




Holy shit, The Wig, I'm so sorry to hear that that happened to you. However I can't tell from your story, were you at Bloor & Bathurst or Bloor & St. Thomas when this happened? If the latter, I know the people who were filming this. I don't know if it matters anymore, or if the footage erased by police can be data-recovered, or if any of it managed to survive...but there were a number of cameras on it.

I don't know if it makes a difference anymore. I'll be at HQ tonight. Rumours that they've already started arresting people.
posted by avocet at 12:14 PM on June 28, 2010


People who live in Toronto and believe in freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom to dissent need to come out and stand up for it this evening. I'm basically begging people to come, because safety will only exist in numbers. Here are the event details:
Protest police abuse of power and show your solidarity with those who've been arrested - Monday the 28th at 5:30 at 40 College St. (Police Headquarters). Be there to defend our rights to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom to dissent!
Facebook link (warning: lots of comments from people who don't care about such essential rights). The speakers will be Naomi Klein, Ben Powless, David McNally, Judy Rebick, Abeer Majeed
along with testimonies from people who've been brutalized by police. (see this Facebook event page for the same event for the list of speakers)

As I posted earlier on Facebook:
If anyone is afraid of coming out this evening to this event for fear of arrest and police brutality, I can only offer the assurances that we will be nonviolent and that our greatest strength and safety lies in having as many people out there AS POSSIBLE (along with prominent figures). Unfortunately, I cannot offer as...surance regarding the police, who in my experience and what I've seen recorded this weekend, have seen protesters sitting down chanting that they are peaceful as those most worthy of beating, shooting, gassing and arrest. However, their behaviour is unacceptable and disgusting and we must be out there in a large number to say NO!
Finally somewhat bitter humour from a friend of a friend:
'"Having padlocked the houses of government only months before, the government proceeded to round up and randomly charge approximately 900 human rights dissidents in a 48 hour period." Why do we report it like that when brown peoples' states do it?'
posted by Gnatcho at 12:29 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have been crusing around google streetview. The first stop where I was assaulted was in front of the second cup on the north side of Bloor at Spadina. We were stopped again at Madison and Bloor where my friend was pushed down onto the steps of the Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Building I think. After that we kept going west on Bloor and then north to our parking garage. I do not think we went as far as St-Thomas.
posted by The Wig at 12:36 PM on June 28, 2010


I'll be there. Confirmed by friend who works across the street that there's already heavy riot police presence outside, unconfirmed rumours that arrests have started and that cops are boarding streetcars and searching passengers.
posted by avocet at 12:39 PM on June 28, 2010


People who live in Toronto and believe in freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom to dissent need to come out and stand up for it this evening.

Heh. They don't, really. And they won't.
posted by empath at 12:43 PM on June 28, 2010


Everyone Loses
posted by homunculus at 12:56 PM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Description of conditions at G20 detention centre. (Via.)

A secret, illegal law that violates fundamental civil rights. Arrests without cause of 600 peaceful protesters, journalists, and innocent bystanders. Cops kicking and punching nonviolent civilians and shooting them at point-blank range with riot control guns. Sexual assault by cops. Unnecessary and illegal strip searches by cops. Inhumane and illegal detention conditions.

And yet the dominant focus of media attention (not to mention the dominant subject in this thread) is two torched cars and a few broken windows.
posted by twirlip at 1:10 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Please check in here tonight if you're going. Cops are everywhere and conducting searches.
posted by avocet at 1:29 PM on June 28, 2010


And yet the dominant focus of media attention (not to mention the dominant subject in this thread) is two torched cars and a few broken windows.

Well, maybe next time people won't support the Black Bloc.
posted by empath at 1:34 PM on June 28, 2010


And yet the dominant focus of media attention (not to mention the dominant subject in this thread) is two torched cars and a few broken windows.

This should surprise no one. A few bad apples escalated the situation to completely meaningless violence (seriously, American Apparel? They're your bad guy?) , gave everyone their photo-ops, and the cops a justification to round up and/or bash the heads of anyone they felt like.

But a quick google search suggests the Star, the CBC, and even the Globe are reporting on what the police did. Editorials seem to be full of accusations of police misconduct. A lot of mainstream journalists were rounded up with the other innocent bystanders. The problem is not a lack of coverage, it's that not enough people give a shit. Last night on the news I saw a young woman who had just been released--IIRC she said she'd been detained for 5 hours and forced to lie face-down the whole time. She was in tears, stating "this can't be democracy."

It is democracy, though, and it's incredibly sad.
posted by Kirk Grim at 1:45 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


> cops are boarding streetcars and searching passengers.

Can that possibly be legal?
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:57 PM on June 28, 2010


My guess, Card Cheat, is that the legality of the searches is a secret that only Dalton McGuinty knows the answer to.
posted by Kirk Grim at 1:59 PM on June 28, 2010


But a quick google search suggests the Star, the CBC, and even the Globe are reporting on what the police did.

Yeah, it looks like the police violence and rights violations are starting to enter the news cycle, which was not true when I checked this morning. There were stories about that stuff, but they were very much "below the fold" for most of the mainstream news organizations I looked at. Now it's the Globe's top headline and one of CTV's big stories of the day; nothing substantial in the CBC's top headlines yet but they tend to be a bit slower.

It will be interesting to see whether it's still making headlines 72 hours from now. I'm hoping for something more than one news cycle of "look at this burning cop car" and one news cycle of "the cops have gone too far." What the cops did in Toronto over the past few days is genuine police-state bullshit, and way more serious than anything the black bloc folks have done. I'm not naive enough to expect any actual accountability, but it will be a very bad sign if there isn't at least an inquiry.
posted by twirlip at 2:59 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


What the cops did in Toronto over the past few days is genuine police-state bullshit, and way more serious than anything the black bloc folks have done. I'm not naive enough to expect any actual accountability, but it will be a very bad sign if there isn't at least an inquiry.

Nicely put. The issue of whether or not there is an inquiry will, to say the least, be an interesting one to follow in the media, now that a few of their own have gotten caught up in the police stupidity.

That said, what ultimately bugs me most about all of this is how little discussion there is going on of what actually went down in the G-8 + G-20 meetings. It's all just spit and anger revolving around the street action (the arrests, the torched cop cars) which, if I were some evil manipulator of world affairs, is exactly how I'd want it.
posted by philip-random at 4:02 PM on June 28, 2010


Well, maybe next time people won't support the Black Bloc.
posted by empath at 4:34 PM on June 28 [+] [!]


Who are these "people" you speak of? The organisers of the People First March (the CLC) have condemned the Black Bloc. CLC marshlls were directing protestors away from the riot police back to the rally. At the protest itself, peaceful protestors asked the riot police to arrest the criminals that were committing crimes right in front of them. As the police later showed when attacking, isolating, and dragging off individuals from the official free speech zone, the police had the tools and training to do so. They deliberately choose to not attempt pro-active or reactive crowd control.

And is it just me or does anyone else get bothered by calling the events on Saturday a riot? Black Bloc actions targeted windows that were known ahead of time (although to me, WTF with the starbucks and timmies hatred - at least they offer their employees health benefits). A riot implies everything was out of control and it was a free for all. I haven't heard of any protestor to protestor violence. Where was the riot?
posted by saucysault at 4:28 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obligatory Big Picture link.

I'm really thankful that it looks like the cops are letting today's protest occur without breaking out the shields and helmets.
posted by dnesan at 4:48 PM on June 28, 2010


Knees shot, otherwise I'd be out on Eastern right now. Home safe.

It's not over.
posted by avocet at 7:27 PM on June 28, 2010


Well, maybe next time people won't support the Black Bloc.
posted by empath at 4:34 PM on June 28 [+] [!]

Who are these "people" you speak of?


I was wondering the same thing, myself, until I read the "Everyone Loses" link just upthread (though not from the same poster, I wondered if that was the source of the comment):

And for all of that, protesters, you still could have come out the good guys today. It would have been so easy. You only had to do one thing, one single goddamn thing: "We don't approve of or condone the Black Bloc tactics and we don't approve of or condone violent protest." There you go. Say that, and you're heroes, plain and simple: people who chose not to let their grievances against the government be tainted by malice, even in the face of ridiculously overwrought police tactics. One lousy sentence; that's all we asked of you. Just show us a little good faith.

But of course it didn't happen—not from the top. We got weasel words worthy of Parliament. "We don't comment on the actions of individuals." "That's not the story here."

posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:40 PM on June 28, 2010


Uh, there are people in this very thread supporting Black Bloc tactics.
posted by empath at 8:03 PM on June 28, 2010


Here's what I don't understand: if you're a peaceful protester and you show up to your rally and all of a sudden people start torching cars and breaking windows, why don't you get the fuck outta there immediately?

I am not so sure, but it seems to me like police took a long sweet time to move in on the rioters after the riots began, and there was more than enough time for non-rioters to clear the area.

Peaceful protesters who stick around when shit like this is going down are:

1) Condoning the violence, because whatever message you had to convey at that forum will be drowned out by the smashed windows and burning cars. If they don't recognize that, they're idiots.
2) Putting themselves in harm's way the riot police comes (and they will come)

Of course I may be getting the timeline wrong and peaceful protesters were caught by surprise by the whole thing.
posted by falameufilho at 8:19 PM on June 28, 2010


However, I support Black Block tactics in principle (I think that property damage/violence against property ONLY is a valid action) but not strategically at this kind of protest (bad press, etc).

I was reading the thread from the bottom up. I first read your account of your police brutality incident, and felt really bad for you.

Then I read this and I don't feel bad anymore, because it makes me really suspicious of how truthful is your account. Thank you for being open about it, though.
posted by falameufilho at 8:28 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's interesting that, to some extent, the black bloc folks are getting what they wanted. They drew attention to protests that would otherwise have been ignored by the mainstream media (you might think the "message" was incoherent, but others are asking "Who are these people?" and going on to learn about anarchist and anti-capitalist perspectives). They provoked a police response that demonstrated just how far the cops are willing to go to defend the people and institutions that govern us. And there are lots of people looking at the burning police cars and the billion-dollar price tag and asking, "Are these summits worth the cost?"

I don't think they're necessarily trying to convince anyone they're right. They are trying to sabotage the power structure by disrupting its attempts to coordinate itself, and demonstrating the violence inherent in the system. You might find their tactics reprehensible, but a good case could be made that those tactics work -- or at least that they're more effective than nonviolent protests, which are routinely ignored, or attempts to reform the system from within, which routinely get co-opted or obliterated.
posted by twirlip at 8:33 PM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


They drew attention to protests that would otherwise have been ignored by the mainstream media

Nope. The billion dollar price tag guaranteed a story of some kind. It could have been "Why did we need to spend all that money?" but it has been replaced, for at least some people, with "Oh this is why."

demonstrating the violence inherent in the system

Except that they didn't successfully bait law enforcement. Instead, law enforcement clubbed the peaceniks. So again, instead of a single, clear message, it's a messy believe-what-you-believed-before event.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:45 PM on June 28, 2010


I don't think they're necessarily trying to convince anyone they're right. They are trying to sabotage the power structure by disrupting its attempts to coordinate itself, and demonstrating the violence inherent in the system.

Did you really just say that with a straight face?
posted by empath at 8:56 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's what I don't understand: if you're a peaceful protester and you show up to your rally and all of a sudden people start torching cars and breaking windows, why don't you get the fuck outta there immediately?

What difference does it make when peaceful protesters are being rounded up, threatened, then beaten and charged with 'breach of peace, when there are no "hooligans" in sight, nothing violent or damaging occurring? For doing nothing that they didn't have a legal right to do. Cops were moving in and out of larger groups of peaceful protesters, and then dividing smaller groups away from the larger group, keeping them captive by surrounding them on all sides, and then farcically demanding they disperse. You cannot disperse when you are outnumbered and surrounded by a military group who is purposely not allowing you to leave. The cops were clearly daring these peaceful citizens to make any sort of physical move so they could pounce on them. When they didn't do that, they pounced anyway, with no provocation whatsoever. There were preemptive strikes against the peaceful all over the city, but cops standing lazily by while the minority who broke windows and set things on fire were by and large allowed to get away.

Most instances of over zealous (to put it mildly) policing were not directed at window breaking hooligans, it was directed at peaceful Ontarians singing their national anthem & flashing the peace sign. I was one of the lucky ones who got to witness it first hand, was grabbed violently and shoved to the ground by a cop on Spadina Ave, landing on and breaking my equipment. I was not part of the protest, I was with a film crew - something slightly more dangerous to the cops. I hope.

In the end, the whole event seemed like a set up on the part of the feds and the cops. Toronto is exactly the kind of city that can handle a big political event and the protests that go along with it - the previous experience is there - yet somehow it all went pear shaped.

I don't tend towards conspiracy or paranoia, but everything about the last few days has been sort of shady.


Toronto is burning! Or is it? - by Judy Rebick

"Toronto police--without all the huge expenditures, extra police from across the country and sophisticated new toys-- have kept the peace in riots with a lot more people and in hundreds of demonstrations much larger and often angry. I disagree with torching police cars and breaking windows and I have been debating these tactics for decades with people who think they accomplish something. But the bigger question here is why the police let it happen and make no mistake the police did let it happen. Why did the police let the city get out of control? And they did let it get out of control. The police knew exactly what would happen and how." ...read the rest of the article
posted by zarah at 9:01 PM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


falameufilho, the free speech zone was several km away from the summit site and at least a couple of km away from the smashed windows/burning police cars. The peaceful protestors were no where near the violent ones because the CLC marshals herded the 20,000+ peaceniks to the planned and police-authorised rally. The violence from the police came hours (including over 24 hours) later towards not protestors but mainly civilians when there was no violence at all. Evacuating the whole city because the citizens should now fear police over-reaction smacks of blaming the victim. Maybe the police should arrest people they see committing violence immediately, actually, I thought that WAS their job.

I take back what I said about riots though. Those police were rioting.
posted by saucysault at 9:04 PM on June 28, 2010


Here's what I don't understand: if you're a peaceful protester and you show up to your rally and all of a sudden people start torching cars and breaking windows, why don't you get the fuck outta there immediately?

I was at the anti-Olympic march in Vancouver back in February, the one where black bloc folks knocked over newspaper boxes and smashed a couple of windows. When that stuff started happening, I pulled out of the march, because I'm not interested in participating in those tactics and I didn't want to get arrested (I actually missed the two actual window-smashings, I was too busy getting pictures of the 100 or so riot cops in the streets of my old neighborhood). In fact, I would say that over half of the people who were there are the start of the march melted away within 5-10 minutes of the first broken window. However, I stayed close enough to the march to take plenty of pictures with my cell phone. There were at least a dozen other people with cameras -- including mainstream and independent journalists -- as well as other bystanders on the sidewalk who weren't actually participating but stuck around to watch. I imagine they were either just curious or (like me) they wanted to be able to catch cops in the act if things went downhill. By the end, there were at least 50 people on the sidelines, not participating but standing just inside or just outside the police line and watching.

If the same sort of thing happened in Toronto this past weekend, those 50 people -- myself included -- would have been arrested, even though they weren't doing anything illegal.

(Oh, and before anyone asks: No, I don't know who any of the folks in the black masks were. One of the many advantages of the black bloc tactic is that friendly witnesses can't identify you either.)

The billion dollar price tag guaranteed a story of some kind.

True. But it did not guarantee the enormous scandal that this is (hopefully) turning into, now that the cops have gone apeshit in response to the black bloc.

So again, instead of a single, clear message, it's a messy believe-what-you-believed-before event.

I disagree. Cops beating on peaceniks is a serious deal-breaker for an awful lot of people who wouldn't have cared so much about the protesters otherwise. The peaceful protesters (and innocent bystanders) suffered for the actions of the black bloc, which is brutal. But it is creating a huge scandal that would otherwise not have existed, and transforming a lot of people's perspective from "Spending a billion dollars on this sucks" to "What the fuck kind of police state are we living in?" And I'm thinking here of actual conversations I've had with people in the last 48 hours who have had their thinking changed in this way.

Did you really just say that with a straight face?

The Monty Python reference was self-deprecating irony.
posted by twirlip at 9:10 PM on June 28, 2010


> Nope. The billion dollar price tag guaranteed a story of some kind. It could have been "Why did we need to spend all that money?" but it has been replaced, for at least some people, with "Oh this is why."

if there hadn't been any violence (or if there had been fewer, more isolated incidences of violence), then Harper would justify spending the $1 billion because hey, it worked, didn't it?

either way, Harper wins.

plus, all of the G20 news coverage is about the protests and police brutality. the G20 leaders are probably thrilled no one is reporting on what a tremendous waste of money, energy, and time the summit was - targets that will be ignored were set, the deficits were discussed, and pretty much everything will continue on as usual. very productive.

then again, the rich will stay that way so i suppose the summits were a success: objectives achieved!
posted by gursky at 9:23 PM on June 28, 2010


They came to Toronto from all over, spoiling for a fight, dressed (and equipped) for the occasion. They knew, when the time came, they'd be able to ignore the law when it suited them and leave others to deal with the consequences. In the end, the result was all too predictable.

This can't continue.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:26 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are you referring to the black bloc, the cops, or the G20 leaders?
posted by twirlip at 10:42 PM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, they all dress in black, don't they?
posted by philip-random at 11:47 PM on June 28, 2010


Those Starbucks and Horton's and Second Cups that had their windows smashed in.. Well, they were the same coffee and donut shops that hungry police from all over Canada were crowding during the 5 days leading up to the weekend festivities. I rode by The Wall several times last week, and I can personally attest that $1 billion buys a lot of coffee and donuts!

Given Colin Vaughn's fairly reasonable request that businesses be compensated by the Feds for damages, let me be the first to suggest that coffee and donut shops have already gotten their refund.
posted by Chuckles at 12:03 AM on June 29, 2010


Gah!! Adam Vaughan, of course. I'm tired..
posted by Chuckles at 12:07 AM on June 29, 2010


One of the interesting pieces of fallout that nobody has discussed yet is that this thoroughly unconstitutional bullshit passed by McGuinty's cabinet guarandamntees that neither he nor any members of that cabinet will be re-elected the next time we go to the polls. The NDP will be all over it, and you can bet your bippy the Tories will make sure everyone knows about the anti-Charter search and arrest powers and police overaggressiveness.

I'm not glossing over the absolutely despicable treatment of detainees or the violence employed by the police. I just find it interesting that McGuinty, normally a fairly savvy political operator, failed to see the ramifications of doing this. In an ideal world, Bill Blair's head will roll--he requested the Order-in-Council after all--but I imagine some low-level cops will be scapegoated and quietly pensioned off into a nice life of private security.

Unless someone with the heft of Alan Young or Clay Ruby gets involved in the soon-to-be-filed-I-hope lawsuits.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:13 AM on June 29, 2010


Only in Canada
posted by empath at 5:42 AM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Guy goes nuts because they've closed the Eaton's Centre.

WHY ARE YOU CLOSED?
posted by dnesan at 6:57 AM on June 29, 2010


I was reading the thread from the bottom up. I first read your account of your police brutality incident, and felt really bad for you.

Then I read this and I don't feel bad anymore, because it makes me really suspicious of how truthful is your account. Thank you for being open about it, though.


I can offer no evidence to verify my claim, except to say that I chose to share this story online here with this community and nowhere else and that I feel I have included all the relevant details honestly (my private beliefs, which were not known to the police at any time, and my attire which was admittedly poorly chosen).

If you think the fact that I privately support direct action in the form of property damage in principle justifies the way I was treated... well I don't really know what to tell you except that I disagree. What country are you a citizen of?


Also, this:
Peaceful protesters sing the national anthem.


From a street-level view.
posted by The Wig at 7:37 AM on June 29, 2010


I have never participated in any kind of property damage or Black Block actions, nor do I intend to. But again you'll have to take my word for it I guess.
posted by The Wig at 7:39 AM on June 29, 2010


If you think the fact that I privately support direct action in the form of property damage in principle justifies the way I was treated

I didn't say it justifies the way you were treated. I said I can't take your story at face value anymore because I don't trust you.
posted by falameufilho at 8:20 AM on June 29, 2010


Fair enough! Next time I will forgo full disclosure.
posted by The Wig at 8:25 AM on June 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


Not sure if this has already been posted, but How I Ended Up in a G20 Jail by a CityNews reporter is pretty good.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:35 AM on June 29, 2010


Hey, now they're coming after the activists that 'disrupted the repatriation ceremony' on Friday, as 'they were in the crowd yesterday and we know who they are.' I guess they're talking about me, as I've been writing about the Highway of Heroes for a while now...

Anyways, that's bullshit, Bill Blair, nothing happened.
posted by avocet at 8:39 AM on June 29, 2010


What's a repatriation ceremony?
posted by desjardins at 8:44 AM on June 29, 2010


Previously on Metafilter
posted by avocet at 8:54 AM on June 29, 2010


Now the Globe and Mail reports that the secret law didn't mean what we all thought it meant.

A ministry spokeswoman says the change was about property, not police powers, and did not include any mention of a zone five metres outside the G20 security perimeter.

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 starting to get real tired of Bill Blair's smug little smile about all of this, lying to or misleading the public isn't something to laugh about.
posted by dnesan at 9:07 AM on June 29, 2010


What's a repatriation ceremony?

You know how (until last year) in the States it was against the law to photograph a soldier's casket? It's the opposite of that.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:30 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]




Journalist Amy Miller on what she was threatened with in detention. (link to video)

"I was told that I was going to be raped. I was told that I was going to be gang-banged. I was told that they were going to make sure that I was never going to want to act as a journalist again, by making sure that I would be repeatedly raped while I was in jail."
posted by bewilderbeast at 10:17 AM on June 29, 2010


Cops beating on peaceniks is a serious deal-breaker for an awful lot of people who wouldn't have cared so much about the protesters otherwise.

For people who were actually there, no question. For the majority of Canadians? I have to wonder if you're scanning the same media I am.

I caught part of a radio show last night (not normally my bag, but I was in the kitchen making ice cream) that concluded, generally: "Most protesters were well-behaved. Most police were well-behaved". That kind of easy equivalency is exactly the takeaway many people seem to be settling for. As long as there are people "behaving badly" on both sides, who cares if, you know, one side was assaulting peaceful members of the other. There's a whole lot of "they must have deserved it" on thar interwebs.

And... here comes the internal review.

The Ontario government is now insisting "no extra powers" were granted to Toronto Police for the G20 summit.

I had found it interesting that most of the first-hand descriptions of interaction with police involve, effectively, coercion to comply with a search (thus opening the door to arguments that it was "voluntary") rather than citation of any special powers.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:24 AM on June 29, 2010


You Call That a Riot? "Two police cars were burned, some store windows broken, sports shoes stolen, trash cans overturned. No deaths, a few minor injuries. Montreal can match that after a first-round playoff game."
posted by chunking express at 10:29 AM on June 29, 2010


Indeed, and Vancouver goes bananas whenever Axl Rose's flight gets canceled.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:40 AM on June 29, 2010


From How I Ended Up in a G20 Jail, linked above:
As I stepped into the wagon I could hear an officer mocking the sopping wet detainees, chanting, ‘Whose streets? Our streets!”, mimicking a chant that the G20 protesters shouted throughout the weekend. I took a mental note when I heard another brag that the more arrests they make, the more funding they will receive.
And:
Before being released [...] an officer warns me not to visit any more G20-related rallies or protests, and stresses that if I'm seen at any I will be brought back for a more extended stay.
posted by Chuckles at 10:42 AM on June 29, 2010


One weather station around Toronto measured the rain between 7 and 8pm at 31.5mm. The rate of rainfall was as intense as it ever gets here. The kind of thing that only happens once every couple of years!
posted by Chuckles at 11:22 AM on June 29, 2010


I was out for a quiet dinner at Jarvis/Front (the Jason George, which I love). It started spitting, I was on the patio, so I headed home to Jarvis & Queen. In that short walk the heavens opened and I got soaked.

I kind of wish it had rained around 3:30 the day before. Might have calmed people down.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:28 AM on June 29, 2010


about the term riot--

The Canadian Criminal Code defines a riot as:

“...an unlawful assembly that has begun to disturb the peace tumultuously.”

The Criminal Code defines "unlawful assembly" as follows:

"An unlawful assembly is an assembly of three or more persons who, with intent to carry out any common purpose, assemble in such a manner or so conduct themselves when they are assembled as to cause persons in the neighbourhood of the assembly to fear, on reasonable grounds, that they will disturb the peace tumultuously; or will by that assembly needlessly and without reasonable cause provoke other persons to disturb the peace tumultuously.

"Persons who are lawfully assembled may become an unlawful assembly if they conduct themselves with a common purpose in a manner that would have made the assembly unlawful if they had assembled in that manner for that purpose."


description of the scene from the journalist in Alvy's link:

"I spent a considerable amount of time on Saturday breathlessly running alongside black bloc anarchists, documenting an unprecedented reign of destruction on the streets of Toronto. I saw them congregate and collaborate in the early afternoon hours, hatching a heinous plan that would leave indelible scars on our city, both financial and psychological. I saw them lob rocks at retreating police, smash and burn cruisers, spray-paint numerous structures with revolutionary slogans, and shatter windows with a seemingly insatiable appetite. I saw them target members of the media, myself included, with taunts, sticks and rocks."


It was a riot.
posted by Kirk Grim at 11:46 AM on June 29, 2010


I think the journalist was trying to be funny. Like, "HA HA," funny.
posted by chunking express at 11:50 AM on June 29, 2010


Oh....then I'll add "WOOOSH!" to my comment and make a motion by waving my hand over my head, and assure you I feel plenty dumb right now.

But saucysault wasn't joking upthread, so whatevs.
posted by Kirk Grim at 11:55 AM on June 29, 2010


Hah, now that I've heard the press conference, I need to self-link these!

"They also tried to disrupt a repatriation ceremony that was taking place behind headquarters when one of our officers was returning.We had to deploy our public order officers to keep them from charging up the alley to disrupt that repatriation, and they attacked our officers. Unfortunately, the media who was present missed it."
–Chief Bill Blair, Tuesday June 29

What a fucking joke. My photos and youtube videos document the twelve minutes prior – full of police standing around and waiting and totally disprove their fucking sham of a claim.

I DIDN'T MISS IT, ASSHOLE
posted by avocet at 11:57 AM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Please get that video to the Star and the Mop & Pail, and definitely the CBC.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:11 PM on June 29, 2010


G20 Toronto Black Block get green light to rampage? (YouTube video)
A photo Journalist describes his experience following the black block as they rampage through the streets of Toronto during the G20 Summit.

20,000 police and security officials and a $1 billion security budget were not enough to stop 75-100 black block anarchists from smashing windows and torching police cars during a 1.5 hour rampage. The Black Block were able to rampage through the street for 24 blocks until they reached the 'official protest zone' where they quickly changed clothes dispersed through the crowd of peaceful protesters and then left the site.

The police were fully aware of the rampage and watched the black block from a distance at a number of locations. It wasn't until they had dispersed into a crowd of peaceful protesters who thought that they were in a sanctioned area that the police took action beating innocent people with batons and spraying them with pepper spray.

Why was this allowed to happen? Police abandoned police cars at Bay and King when they didn't need to, why? Was this allowed to happen so the Harper government could justify an outrageous security bill when there was no credible terrorist threat (according to CSIS)? Who led this group of vandals? Were they infiltrated by government paid provocateurs as was the case in Montebello where police with masks and rocks attacked their own riot squad?
posted by Gnatcho at 12:46 PM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


An unlawful assembly is an assembly of three or more persons who, with intent to carry out any common purpose, assemble in such a manner or so conduct themselves when they are assembled as to cause persons in the neighbourhood of the assembly to fear, on reasonable grounds, that they will disturb the peace tumultuously; or will by that assembly needlessly and without reasonable cause provoke other persons to disturb the peace tumultuously.

Going by that definition, would the actions of the police not also constitute unlawful assembly?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:51 PM on June 29, 2010


Also, while I certainly don't agree with their idiotic tactics, I think people might still want to refer to the weekend anarchist fun time douche club correctly. The word is bloc.

Vocabulary!
posted by Sys Rq at 1:01 PM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


The CBC has wimped out big time in this. They tweeted from inside the zone. Their Street Level Tweeters all fell silent as the police overreached.
posted by Paddle to Sea at 1:24 PM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


The CBC has wimped out big time in this.

Yep, big time indeed.

Yesterday in an interview with Lawrence Cannon, the CBC anchor was laughing as she asked whether Cannon thought the media was making too big a deal out of the protests and police action, as if that could even be possible.

Last night on the National (I think) they interviewed a police spokesman who was wonderfully contradictory when defending police action. When asked why they allowed the Black Bloc rampage he said that you can't be running into crowds to capture individuals who are taking action, even though that's exactly what was done later on in the weekend. I desperately want someone to start asking tough questions, especially as more and more anecdotal evidence comes out about police action.

That being said, in the National interview, the spokesman did claim that at the time the protests went violent on Saturday, a lot of the G8 leaders were coming in. Which I suppose could be a decent reason as to why they stayed back and let things unfold, although it surely doesn't excuse the rest of the crap the police pulled all while pointing at the Saturday violence for justification.
posted by dnesan at 1:52 PM on June 29, 2010


The G20 detention centre at 629 Eastern Avenue was opened to media today. Staff Sergeant J McGuire did the honours walking a few dozen reporters through the now vacated maze of a building.

Photos and Descriptions.
posted by gman at 2:32 PM on June 29, 2010




Going by that definition, would the actions of the police not also constitute unlawful assembly?

By that definition, most Friday nights at the pub are unlawful assembly. My reason for bringing it up was that the the press, lawyers, and police will be able to use these terms--correctly--when framing the discourse.

So sentiments like this up thread:

And is it just me or does anyone else get bothered by calling the events on Saturday a riot? Black Bloc actions targeted windows that were known ahead of time.... A riot implies everything was out of control and it was a free for all. I haven't heard of any protestor to protestor violence. Where was the riot?

are not going to be heard. It doesn't matter how severe it was or how threatening it was, now "riot" is in the narrative. Those responsible for the vandalism and destruction have managed to marginalize everyone who showed up and acted responsibly. Cops win, 1-0. Heckauvajob, Black Bloc.
posted by Kirk Grim at 5:32 PM on June 29, 2010


Cops win, 1-0. Heckauvajob, Black Bloc.

Ya, but that isn't really accurate at all. This is just like the US Army v International Terrorism. When some shit goes down (911, invading Iraq, whatever) both sides are getting exactly what they want. Everybody else is screwed, of course, but the two sides are totally happy.

Happy figuratively, but also literally, I think. Anybody doubt that the average cop enjoyed breaking out his toys, breaking some heads, and taking back 'his' streets? I think it goes without saying that the Black Bloc dweebs were having a blast.
posted by Chuckles at 6:45 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Only in Canada
posted by empath at 8:42 AM on June 29 [2 favorites +] [!]


Strange that with 20,000 police officers in downtown Toronto drawing healthy overtime last weekend, the only anti-looting measure I have seen on video so far was enacted by "passerby in grey shirt." Maybe we should have given that guy 1.2 billion dollars.

I am reminded that this was the city that seven years ago during the blackout had pedestrians step out into the intersections and take up duties as traffic cops to get everyone through safely. Passersby brought them bottled water and sandwiches.

Ironically, that is what anarchy actually is, not smashing and looting.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:17 PM on June 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


However, I don't want to get to suggest the police did nothing to protect the good people of Toronto. Apparently $1.2 billion is enough to stop a solitary LARPer.

And note that in the sidebarred photo slideshow, the "weapons" seized include skatebard helmets, a vintage handsaw and a water bottle filled with what is dramatically described as "a clear liquid."

Best paragraph:

Police also displayed a crossbow and chainsaw seized in an incident on Friday that they said had no ties to the summit. When asked, Chief Blair acknowledged they were unrelated, but said “everything else” had been confiscated from demonstrators.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:38 PM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Don't forget a mediacoop.ca sticker and a copy of Upping the Anti!
posted by avocet at 10:21 PM on June 29, 2010


Police also displayed a crossbow and chainsaw seized in an incident on Friday that they said had no ties to the summit.

What the actual fuck.

"This stuff looks scary but don't worry, guys, I found it in my garage."
posted by bewilderbeast at 12:17 AM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]




Police also displayed a crossbow and chainsaw seized in an incident on Friday that they said had no ties to the summit.

What the actual fuck.

"This stuff looks scary but don't worry, guys, I found it in my garage."


I suspect the saw actually came from the wall of a Kelsey's.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:08 AM on June 30, 2010


Iconic G20 symbols have captured everyone's attention like moths to a flaming cop car.

But how did that police cruiser get set on fire? Was it mobs of angry, slavering thugs? Was it rabid anarchists?

It's a lot more clear after watching my favorite street video so far. Things to note:

* The majority of those milling around the police car are photographers. Almost as shameless a media frenzy as this.

* Several genuine protesters realize that the abandoned police car is effectively a movie prop, and that "Thanks to all your photography, this will be on the news tonight justifying the whole [$1.2 billion dollar] event."

* The car's set on fire by a random kid in a white hoodie. The only person who is willing to put themselves at risk to put the flames out has been high on acid for days. Notice the little beads of sweat on the photogs' foreheads.

* The car has sat, being photographed, for over half an hour before someone else (not shown) finally succeeds in setting it on fire.
posted by anthill at 7:39 AM on June 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


On the other hand, the Eaton's Shopping vs. Civil Rights remix is pretty funny too.
posted by anthill at 8:02 AM on June 30, 2010


skwt: I *thought* those details looked familiar, and sure enough, clicking the link, that's my friend Tommy. It's a pretty crazy situation all right.
posted by antifuse at 1:06 PM on June 30, 2010


It is crazy. It's amazing he typed all that up too.
posted by skwt at 12:40 AM on July 1, 2010


I KNEW that high on acid guy in the cop car looked familiar! Hope he's all right.
posted by orme at 4:33 PM on July 1, 2010


Happy Canada Day! We suck as much as everyone else does, wheee!
posted by zarah at 4:42 PM on July 1, 2010


Whatever. Canada is made out of magic and awesome. Even our 'police state' weekend ends with protests in front of police head quarters. All our papers are carry stories about abuses, and they don't look to be forgetting what happened.

We live in the best country on the planet.
posted by chunking express at 7:12 AM on July 2, 2010


It is crazy. It's amazing he typed all that up too.

Well, he has a flair for the dramatic - he's involved in the theater community quite heavily, or at least he used to be (he's sorta drifted away from our group of friends in the last few years) and I can't imagine that he wouldn't be now. So I'm sure as he was going through the whole thing he was keeping very detailed mental notes in order to present it to the world after he made it out. He invited us all to the protests in Toronto yesterday, but I don't think anybody went.
posted by antifuse at 7:36 AM on July 2, 2010


We live in the best country on the planet.

Been to them all, have you?
posted by philip-random at 7:40 AM on July 2, 2010


Been to them all, have you?

Haters gonna hate.
posted by chunking express at 8:00 AM on July 2, 2010


U! S! A! ('s northern neighbour) U! S! A! ('s northern neighbour) U! S! A! ('s northern neighbour) U! S! A! ('s northern neighbour)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:22 AM on July 2, 2010


Very late to this thread, but just wanted to say that my opposition to black bloc action stems not from the stuff dnab etc say above, but from the ease with which the police can abuse it. All they have to do is leave two police cars unattended in the path of protestors and either burn them themselves or let naive young people do it for them. The media have their pictures and the police/state have their justification for using violence against the protestors.

I'm sad to see MeFites getting conned by the state into supporting police action against violence and damage likely caused by state actors.
posted by knapah at 4:32 PM on July 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


violence and damage likely caused by state actors

I can't remember who's law or dictum it is but, "Never ascribe to conspiracy that which can be explained by stupidity."
posted by Trochanter at 5:34 PM on July 15, 2010


Don't underestimate the ability of others to recognise said stupidity and use it for their own ends. Almost certainly, the people that torched police cruisers weren't disguised policemen. However, the cruisers being left there, that was probably done with full awareness of the likely consequences.
posted by Dysk at 5:42 PM on July 15, 2010


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