Sunday, 27 June 2010

G20 Protest in Toronto - Police stood by and did nothing while damage was being done

Toronto is burning! Or is it? | Transforming Power
Excerpt:
And in that confusion, several hundred people changed their clothes
and took off together running down queen street while thousands of riot
cops picked their noses. In full police view, they let a mob destroy
banks and trash Yonge street.

"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."


The police spokesperson told Metro Morning today that they waited
until later when it was safer to make arrests but that cannot be true.
I was there and like David I believe the cops could have arrested the
Black Bloc right at the beginning of the action but they abandoned
their police cars and allowed them to burn, not even calling the fire
department until the media had lots of time to photograph them. They
had a water cannon but they didn't even use a fire extinguisher. Why?


A comment released to a media outlet last night from official police
spokesperson tells some of the story, " We have never tried to curtail
people's rights to lawfully protest. All you have to do is turn on the
TV and see what's happening now. Police cars are getting torched,
buildings are being vandalized, people are getting beat up and the
so-called "intimidating" police presence is essential to restoring
order. That is the reality on the ground."


Police playing politics, justifying the expense and responding to the
critiques building all week about excessive and arbitrary police
powers. A politicized police force is unacceptable in a democratic
society. There are serious questions that must be answered and they
have not been satisfactory answered.


People were shocked last night by a city out of control but the
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.


Christopher
Watt
was there when the first police car was torched, "The officers
clustered and formed a line. A second picket of officers lined up
behind them, facing the crowd where I stood. They started to move, but
they weren't clearing the street; they were clearing out and abandoning
two police cars, including the one with the shattered windshield...


In moments like this, someone needs to make a decision. This time it
was a man in dreadlocks and no shirt, red paint all over his torso. He
moved towards the police car, grabbing the squawking police radio...

"Following the lead of the dreadlocked man, someone else pulled what
looked like a leather folder from inside the car and spread its contents
over the trunk. A kid wearing sunglasses, his face covered by a scarf,
inspected the paperwork. Soon after, the squad cars would be on fire.
(The gas cap appeared to have been removed from one of them even before
the crowd moved in.)"


It was a perfect storm. A massive police presence who were primed
for "dangerous anarchists" after a week of peaceful protests. No more
than one hundred, probably fewer, young men who think violent
confrontations with the police will create a radicalization and expose
the violence of the state. A new generation of young people who are
becoming activists believing they live in a democratic society and are
shocked by the degree of police violence arrayed to stop them.


But it is the police that let the handful of people using Black
Bloc tactics run wild and then used the burning police cars and violent
images as a media campaign to convince the people of Toronto that the
cost and the excessive police presence was necessary. They knew what
would happen and they knew how
it would happen.
It is the police that bear the responsibility for
what happened last night. They were responsible for keeping the peace
and they failed to do it.

1 comment:

Sarah Face said...

One of the only true accounts of what actually occurred during the G20 protests I've been able to find... thank you for writing it. I was witness to police attacks on bystanders and onlookers near the Queens Park mass arrest yesterday (june 26) as well as the abandoned police cars inviting vandalism. You make an incredibly valid point about how the Bloc were so necessary during this summit to justify the cost spent on security... where were the police during the Black Bloc spree? Nowhere to be found. Not until well after the fact using the actions of few to justify attacks on so many.