Conflicted over the G20 conflicts

This weekend’s G20 in Toronto saw some of the most astonishing acts I’ve ever seen in my city. My feelings on what happened are quite conflicted and I’m sure many Torontonians are feeling the same.

I’m all for people peacefully protesting for causes they believe in; this is a right we all have, living in a democratic country. At the beginning, many of the protesters were in fact being peaceful from what I could see on TV. If this continued, I’m sure the police wouldn’t have acted as much as they eventually did. It was only when the infamous Black Bloc decided to join in, that everything decided to hit the fan.

It’s now common knowledge that these thugs aren’t there to protest for any cause, but to cause damage and incite rioting. After all of this happened, the police were taking no chances with protesters, blocking them off at all points and trying to disperse them wherever they could. At this point, I fully supported the actions taken by the police and G20 security forces, however it would’ve been much more advantageous to all if they’d stopped them before causing the damage . It’s very easy to judge forces on their actions, but I’m sure it’s much more difficult for them to plan on where/when they’ll specifically attack.

They did step up their take down of others, after the fact, who had changed out of their black garb and into regular civilian clothing. With all the surveillance downtown, many were probably caught and in other seemingly non-violent protests, the police took out individuals they deemed suspicious.

Many say they were attacking innocent people but if they have intelligence that rioters are texting to mobilize troops then it makes sense to take out people texting. I wasn’t there and I’m sure there are those who will disagree with me, but if police are also telling people to repeatedly to back away and they don’t? Well that that also gives them reasonable cause to take action, in my opinion.

On Sunday night there were many people who were held up at Spadina Avenue & Queen Street West for about four hours. Quite a few, even members of the media, were detained or arrested. The thing is, most of these people weren’t protesting anything, but say they were just in the area. The question that I asked all weekend was, if you’re not protesting anything, why are you putting yourself in such close vicinity of the officers who you know are arresting people who get too close? Many people would’ve solved much strife by listening, or just staying home. That being said, many of these people were held in the pouring rain for much of the time and not provided with any kind of shelter – that’s not acceptable. What’s even less acceptable was the fact that after holding people for so long, they eventually let many go since they had no space for them in the chartered TTC buses. It just goes to show they had no legitimate reason to hold them to begin with.

It’s been said many times, but these meetings, where nothing new is apparently done, should be taking place at the UN or on secure military bases, if they insist on having it in a different country each time. The over $1 billion cost to tax payers is ridiculous coming from a summit that is supposed to discuss creating a more fiscally sound world economy. That money, as we all know, could go to countless different causes and make many peoples’ lives better. And what about the cost of repairs to many businesses who have had their facades destroyed and others who have had to close for security reasons? I didn’t have feelings either way toward this summit until it came to my city, but now I wish it never did.

Please check out the Toronto Star’s photo blog on the G20 protests.

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About Sean Bailey
Social media specialist who also happens to be a tech geek that's addicted to reading, movies, music, sports and coffee. Anything said on this blog is my opinion (obviously).

4 Responses to Conflicted over the G20 conflicts

  1. Sean says:

    OMG, what a clusterfuck from top to bottom. First, the bill is 10 times more than it needs to be. Then they’re a little bit complacent and clueless when the damage is happening. Then they have to save face for dropping the ball the previous day, all while addressing legitimate concerns about safety.

    I don’t have any of the answers myself, but I REALLY hope that the questions keep getting asked until the answers are revealed.

    • Sean Bailey says:

      It was sad that they paid so much yet the same damage occurred as with previous G20’s. It was kind of embarrassing when I saw a German journalist interviewed on CP24 saying our efforts were essentially pathetic and he was shocked we weren’t using other methods like water cannons to take out the Black Bloc and other anarchists.

      I have a feeling no matter what happened, there’s always going to be a group of people that would’ve complained. If there were no riots, then people would’ve said they paid too much and nothing happened. I feel if nothing happens then they’re doing their job, which was the case on Sunday.

      I’d like to hear more answers too but I don’t think it’ll ever truly be solved because of security reasons; at least not for public consumption. I hope I’m wrong.

      BTW thanks for commenting Sean! Good to see another Sean’s opinion on here for a change.

  2. Hey Sean,

    Great post! I like how you looked at both sides of the argument, it is quite hard to judge what happened this weekend as a strictly black and white issue, as like every situation, there is usually one or two bad apples who create a bad rap for the rest, whether that be police or protesters.

    As you noticed in my post about the G20, I wholeheartedly believe the police have nothing to apologize for. Sure, they made mistakes, and it wasn’t nice to have detainees left out in the pouring rain with no explanation. But hindsight is 20/20 right? I agree with your argument that police should have stepped in sooner to stop the Black Bloc in their tracks. I saw some horrid videos on YouTube of the Black Bloc demolishing Queen St. W, jumping on cars, smashing windows, with not a single person stepping in to stop them. Frankly, I would have used tear gas to clear that crowd. But who knows, perhaps police were worried the violence of the situation might escalate if they stepped in, and we all know the media scrutinizes every action of theirs. Police are like soccer refs–no one is ever going to be 100% happy with the calls they make.

    I think the most important thing for me is that: while people absolutely have a right to protest peacefully, safety for the common good became the bigger issue. Unfortunately the Black Bloc’s antics ruined the protesters time to shine, as they silenced real issues with criminality and destruction, and made police more on edge and ready to shut down any large movement. It’s foolish for people to show up at a protest “hot spot” the day after all the destruction, to gawk at police in riot gear, and expect not to become involved. I’m disappointed our city wasn’t as supportive of the police–the ones defending them from actual terror and chaos–and instead pointed the finger at them and condemmed their heavy handed attitude, Frankly, i think they could have done a LOT more, and still been justified in their actions given the situation.

    • Sean Bailey says:

      Thanks for the comment Jenna.

      It’s definitely NOT a black and white issue. I’ve heard people stubbornly stick to one side, when it’s not possible in a situation like this. If you’re pro-police, you have to admit people were mistreated, in terms of length of time out in the rain or the inaction on Saturday. If you’re pro-protester you have to concede that not everyone in the crowd was peaceful, not everyone was just a passerby. The police were doing their job and going on their surveillance to pick people you may not think were guilty, out of the crowd. I’m SURE some were picked that didn’t deserve it, but as I said in my post, if you were on a cell phone & acting suspiciously, then you likely would’ve gotten picked.

      For the tear gas thing, I would’ve supported that too, but the police said they didn’t want to because of the neighbourhood – mixed residential/business. They didn’t want the gas in the ventilation systems making people sick.

      Your final point makes complete sense. If the Black Bloc didn’t come to town then the police wouldn’t have been as noticed. However, they did and things had to be tightened up a bit afterward, so if you’re in the danger areas, be prepared to face the consequences because the rules aren’t the same as the day before.

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