Ultimately, though, we could argue back and forth about the necessity
of a sniper at this protest for hours and never get to the real point:
the police strongly overreacted to this protest, and with an unseemly
amount of fear. Snipers are simply not a necessary security measure for
anything other than the largest public protests, and even then their use
is highly questionable. (Ultimately a sniper's basic purpose is to
shoot at people from a great distance, and involving them in a public
protest is an admission that you believe deadly force may well be
necessary.) But this was not a large public protest. This was OCAP being
the same damn pain in the ass they always are: mostly peaceful and
mostly annoying, and meriting consideration of deadly force not in the
Many have said before that the true crime perpetrated by the G20
Integrated Security Unit was to intimidate and pre-criminalize the
citizenry of Toronto as a whole. Even so, the events of the G20 were
exceptional in many ways, and although police there reacted extremely
badly to those exceptional events this could still be forgiven if it was
clear that the tactics adopted for the G20 were seen as a mistake.
However, if snipers are to become a constant presence at public
protests, then the events of the G20 were not a terrible mistake.
Instead, they were the introduction of a new norm, where protest is
considered to be not only the source of likely criminal activity, but a
source of criminal activity so dangerous that it requires the
installation of lethal force at a distance. And that is unacceptable.