Sunday, July 04, 2010


In the aftermath of the police riot at the Toronto summit of the G20 more and more Canadian labour organizations are condemning the actions of the police in arresting over 1000 peaceful protesters while totally ignoring (encouraging ?) the actions of less than 100 rioters. At last count when Molly looked 41,775 people had joined the Facebook group 'Canadians Demanding A Public Inquiry Into Toronto G20'. Molly wants to reemphasize that this is not just a question of police misconduct. The general security plans for the summit were set by political masters. The concentration of huge numbers of police from various jurisdictions shows this quite plainly. It is also entirely possible that the decision to both bait the Black Bloc with abandoned police cars and to not engage the rioters was a political decision rather than a tactical police decision.

Here's the statement of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) on the events in Toronto.
Canadians' Civil Rights Trampled At G20 in Toronto
A group, colourfully attired, some in decidedly unmilitant summer dresses and open toed shoes hemmed in at the corner of Spadina and Queen street in downtown Toronto break into a spirited rendition of O'Canada, a moment later a boom, then a line of riot police standing down the group charge forward trampling some and beating others with their batons. It's a searing image that neatly sums up what happened in Canada's biggest city over the weekend - while the world watched.

The lesson here is that when a government spends 1.1 billion dollars on security infrastructure, tear gas, rubber bullets, sound cannons, they're going to use it - and other than the five million dollar fence that went down as quickly as it went up - that infrastructure and the elastic approach to civil rights in this country is likely here to say. After all the spot searches of persons well outside the security zone was routinely witnessed by the nations media, becoming routine and unremarkable by Sunday afternoon.

How did the temporary regulation added to the Public Works Protection Act that covered 5 metres from the security perimeter get extended to the faraway corner of Queen and Spadina? The nation's media failed to ask.

According to the Toronto Star blog that ran live during the G20 Police Chief Bill Blair, challenging and unapologetic throughout, said the people on the corner had three chances to leave, and suggested that any criminal activity was made easier by the complicity of the crowd, ""It's unfortunate some innocent people had to stand in the rain," says Blair. "We had to stand in the rain with them." The deluge, he says, was the "good part" because the rain "cooled their ardour. That's what we wanted it to do."

When asked at a press conference Saturday night about the beating of an accredited journalist by police, Blair ominously suggested that they (The Toronto police) had video of the incident as well. The video by the Real News Network clearly shows journalist Jesse Freeston being struck and pushed backward. When he asked a supervisor on the scene why he was struck the supervisor instead of answering his question instructs the police to "give him another shot" - which they do - several more times.

G8/20 summits are where the worlds rich and most powerful leaders make decisions that affect all of us. The theme of this summit was austerity - a reduction in worldwide deficits that is facilitated by a reduction in the standard of living brought about by decent wages and social programs - as viewed by fiscal conservatives such as Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty. What has become the brutal routine in the developing world and now underway in Greece - what Canada's G8/20 architect (or parrot?) Mark Carney calls the "canary in the mine" - is all that's at stake at these summits. It's what brings the crowds out.

Downtown Toronto was a testing ground both for what we can expect, and what we'll withstand.

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