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Toronto G20: Kafka Style

June 30, 2010 2 comments

I am still in shell shock regarding the events of the weekend. I realize that in many parts of the world, widespread state violence is the norm, but I am of the privileged class and have never been subject to it before. Yes, when I was younger I was in some protests opposing the Iraq war, where things got pretty heated with the cops. I also accidentally got stuck in an anti-Bush protest in Rome where the crowd was tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets, but this pales in comparison to what Toronto turned into this weekend. I saw people indiscriminately arrested and beaten by the police, 500 (the detention at Queen and Spadina has now been estimated at 500 people) of my fellow citizens detained for three hours, citizens illegally searched and over 900 people arrested and put in cages.

Some of you may know that Canada was once subject to terrorist groups. One of the worst of these terrorist groups was the FLQ, which was a group consisting of French separatists. In the 70s the FLQ detonated 95 bombs in Quebec and even kidnapped and killed the Minister of Labour Pierre Laporte. The War Measures Act was enacted and 497 individuals were arrested, about half of the amount arrested in Toronto over the weekend. I don’t know about you, but I think the FLQ was a little worse than the 50 or so 16-year old vandals. It is crazy that police arrested more people during the G20 protests than the October Crisis. Also, the leaders of the FLQ ended up getting sent to Cuba to chill on the beach, and were never subject to the conditions of the Toronto detention centre.

More reports are coming out every hour regarding police abuses and how those arrested were treated. One of the most disturbing is Amy Miller, a journalist, who accuses police of threatening to rape her.

One of the most compelling accounts, I read, was a note on facebook by Tommy Taylor who got arrested. Like many Torontonians, Tommy wandered around the city during the G20 (our mayor, in fact, told people to go out). He happened upon the peaceful protest at the Novotel, where Steve Paiken valiantly tweeted from, on Saturday night. Tommy and his friends stayed to sing John Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance when the riot police boxed the crowed in. Tommy stated that numerous people, who were not part of the protest, were boxed in, including a couple leaving dinner at the keg and people walking home from work. Tommy was subject to dehydration, starvation and abuse at the detention centre. He gives a very even handed account, and even states that many police officers were upset with their orders (though “I was just following orders” is not an excuse in my book)

Tommy and his girlfriend Kate about to be arrested

Please read his account here

I was crying when I read this and I do not know how anyone could support the measures taken by the police after reading Tommy’s account.

Many people have a hard time questioning the police because they are supposed to be there to protect us. Before the G20 debacle, I had great respect for the police (I even very briefly dated a cop).

I have now lost a lot of confidence in the police force, and as Naomi Kline said “Don’t play public relations, do your goddamned job!” There was no reason the police could not have stopped the black bloc (they were getting paid 1.2 billion dollars). It disturbs me that, according to Kline, they were sending out press releases while the black bloc was destroyed Toronto, stating that the violence demonstrated why the 1.2 billion dollars was necessary.

I don’t doubt that most cops are good people, but I have a big problem with spending so many of my tax dollars (1.2 billion) on overtime and weapons of destruction, only to have my city turned into a war zone.

I urge everyone to contact the Mayor of Toronto, David Miller (mayor_miller@toronto.ca), Your MP
and MPP
and insist there be an independent inquiry.

I would also urge people email Bill Blair a message calling for his resignation, as it has now come to light that the police lied to the population and did not have the right to search people without a warrant outside of the security fence. Here is his email (officeofthechief@torontopolice.on.ca)

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