G20 police action

Many voices are calling for a public, not police inquiry into the police action in Toronto at the G20. The latest is Tabitha Southey writing in the Globe and Mail yesterday.


There are comments to her article, including one from a chap who seems to think that we live in a police state where citizens can be arbitrarily ordered off the street by police. He seems to be confusing, as another reader pointed out, the police with the law. In one of Rex Stout’s novels, a policeman is demanding entry to Nero Wolfe’s house. “Open up, in the name of the law,” he demands. the character Archie Goodwin answers mildly, “As you Know, it’s the law that keeps you out.” It’s the law that allows protest that is peaceful.

I watched the protest on Sunday night of the G20 from beginning to end. I watched demonstarters and journalists, dog-walkers and cameramen being encircled, held for “processing’ and bussed off to ..?where? Unlike the day before, I saw no one in black masks( the sight of which enrages me); I saw no vandalism. I admit that for a while the people did occupy the center of an intersection as they were prevented from going forward with their march. I understand they were told three times to move. Apparently this is a magic number after which the police can move in with their circle of armed men.

Ms Southey says she was terrified. I can believe it. I, sitting in my safe living room at more than 100 kilometres away, was shocked and appalled. If the police and the politicians who set the rules have an explanation for the people of this country, let’s hear it. If they knew there were violent individuals, armed and dangerous, in the crowd, show us the evidence. Bring them to court.

Ms. Southey also reports individual policemen mocking the psychiatric patients who had come out onto the street. (I’m not sure how people on the street were being identifies as psychiatric patients. I don’t imagine they were wearing signs.)  Can anything have been more frightening to a disturbed mind than the sight of large men, dressed in black, with helmets and truncheons and guns, harassing and mocking? there appears to be a need for training on many levels.

Who were the police on the streets? Were they Toronto police, OPP(as those on the ground were reporting) members of police forces from other cities? Were they angry because of their experience with the Black Bloc the day before? Ms. Southey reports that they seemed to be spoiling for a fight.

For an another point of view, read Christie Blatchford in the same edition of the Globe and Mail at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/self-anointed-g20-journalists-should-get-real/article1627346/

In her article, most of which has to to with the journalists behaviour, she mentions that police were picking people up for a breach of the police or for a breach of the peace that hadn’t yet taken place. She says this is under the old common law. I believe that the rights and freedoms under the constitution supersede that.

It all took place on a sunny afternoon, in Toronto. Only nature, a severe thunderstorm, seemed to intervene and bring an end to all of it.

G20 police response: who’s responsible?

CBC News – Canada – Sentencing act to cost billions: report.

The security for the G8/G20 costs 1.2 billion. The new jail terms cost billions. The law and order agenda. In Toronto this weekend we saw what that really means.

The results of all that money in Toronto: property damage, indelible memories of black-hooded thugs roaming unchecked; ordinary citizens treated like what….cattle, hardened criminals, terrorists?  I watched it for several hours Sunday night, as people were encircled, man-handled, herded, hoping that someone would say something that would justify the disregard for civil rights. No one did. Eventually the police chief, Bill Blair, according to the Globe this morning,  called them off.  Today he said it was a large and dangerous protest. Not according to the press who were in the center of the crowd. People claimed that the police surrounding them were OPP. Who was in charge?

There were severe thunderstorms, torrential rain. No one talked to the people in the crowd. If an individual spoke to a policeman, he was arrested. People were approaching the line to get arrested so they could get out of there. A tactical decision they said. Whose?

They were apparently searching for the individuals who were in the black bloc, believing that they were going to strike again. Some said they had found weapons along Queen Street.

As I understood the powers granted under some obscure act, the police were allowed to ask for id and search within 5 metres of the fence. They were a long way from the fence, and the meetings were over.

The fence came down today. The mayor wants Ottawa, that is us, to pay for the property damage. Who is going to hold the police accountable for their actions? Or at least demand they explain them?

Black Bloc …again

So the message of the marchers is lost yet again, not because the people weren’t allowed to march, thousands of them, but because a group of so-called anarchists, thugs in masks who seem to move from city to city only to destroy, are the only ones whose voices are being heard.

Many, not all, of the leaders who are in Toronto, were democratically elected. The voices of their people are heard through them. Who are these men in masks? They represent no one.

Masks Off.

CBC News – Nova Scotia – Masks off at G8 protest: rally leader.

Some time ago I wrote about the Black Bloc, and those who cover their faces during protests. The CBC reports today that the organizers of a rally at the G8 in Halifax are going maskless, or at least asking those who show up  masked to take them off. A good step forward, I say.

Ten rules for writing fiction | Books | guardian.co.uk

A member of my writing group, the Internet Writing Workshop, posted a link to this article in the Guardian: collected lists from authors such as Margaret Atwood and Stephen King – their personal rules for writing. One rule is on all the lists – write and then write some more. Write, revise, write, make it as well. I must say I always get a kick out of Margaret Atwood’s. I like her advice to take a pencil on the plane as pens leak. Take two, she says, one may break. A link to her blog is to the right.
Another piece of advice, not in these lists, is to do something “writerly” if you come to a blank spot: look for an agent; write your blog; read about writing; read about grammar; read.

The Globe and Mail reports this morning that the G20 meeting is coming to Toronto in June. Much wailing about the disruption to the city, to commerce, to the life of the people who live and work downtown. It’s only for two days, people. The city has that much disruption from marathons for this cause, and parades for that.
The potential violence is another matter. Earlier this week I blogged about the Black Bloc, the criminals in facemasks allowed to march with legitimate protestors and commit random acts of destruction. I don’t understand why, if it is reasonable to assume that a person wearing a mask in a bank is about to commit a criminal act and should be arrested, or at least called to account, the same individual in the midst of a crowd of similarly dressed people – the Black Bloc – which has a history of random violence, should not. And no, I don’t think hiding one’s face with the clear intention of creating terror and avoiding responsibility for criminal acts is a civil right.

Black Bloc

News | About Vancouver | Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games | CTV Olympics.

The protest groups at international events as diverse as the G8 and G20 meetings to the Olympics seem to have become fixtures. According to the article above, a group of anarchists move from protest to protest, dressing in black clothing and wearing masks. It seems to me their only real objective is a day out, play-acting their fantasies, and harming other people as they go.
“Oh but we never hurt people,” they cry.
Really? What about the people whose cars they damaged, and the small shop owners who sees a month’s income disappear to pay for broken windows. Whose cars were they: perhaps a young couple just starting out in life, or a single father, or an elderly woman clinging to her independence?
“Oh but the cause, the noble cause,” they answer.
Cowards and thugs, I say, likely escaping from boring, tedious, low-level jobs, if indeed they have any.
Martin Luther King didn’t hide his face. Mahatma Ghandi didn’t draw courage from being part of a mob. Protest on, peaceful and non-violent marchers. The rest of you, leave.