Black blocheads

2010-06-28

in Canada, Politics, Rants, Security

These window smashers who show up at every big international gathering certainly are annoying! They dominate the news coverage, obscuring any legitimate messages from activist groups. Furthermore, they act to justify the expense and intrusion of the heavy-handed security that now accompanies these events.

Incoherent rage against miscellaneous organizations (G8, G20, WTO, etc) doesn’t advance any sort of political agenda. It just distracts from serious discussions. Arguably, it also helps prevent the various legitimate organizations that attend these protests from engaging meaningfully with one another. After all, their priorities and agendas certainly do not align perfectly, and they clash on many issues. When protests are mostly angry pageants, it isn’t necessary to consider such substantive matters. The closer you get to actual policy-making, however, the more important it becomes to address contradictions so that something can actually be done.

Is there any way to eliminate the bandana-wearers as a constant feature of these gatherings? Obviously, massive security spending doesn’t achieve that aim. Perhaps a more energetic rejection of such individuals and tactics within the activist community could. Given how effectively the violent minority drowns out important messages, finding some way to keep a lid on them would probably benefit a lot of people.

Report a typo or inaccuracy

{ 181 comments… read them below or add one }

Byron Smith June 28, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Do you give any credence to claims that police might use agent provocateurs to incite violence? Here is a story from last year’s G20. I’ve seen a similar report concerning the latest violence but now can’t seem to find it (nothing sinister there, I just can’t remember where I saw it).

Byron Smith June 28, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Ah, here’s an example.

Byron Smith June 28, 2010 at 6:51 pm

And I wasn’t aware of this example from 2007 where the use of agent provocateurs was apparently admitted by the authorities.

alena June 28, 2010 at 8:26 pm

I agree with you completely Milan when you say that the destructive element in the demonstration completely discredits any legitimate protest and in essence prevents the democratic process from functioning. I know that in countries like Pakistan, aggressive demonstrators are paid by someone to escalate conflict on the streets and invite police or army interference as the only effective solution. The main thing that we can do here is to fine such individuals. I would put them to work to clean up their mess and other messes too. Maybe some hard work would get rid of their destructive and counter-productive tendencies.

. June 28, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Opinion
G20 Protests: Is this What Harper Wanted?

PM’s disastrous decision to hold the summit in Toronto: a cunning plan?

By Michael Byers, Today, TheTyee.ca

Even if the choice of summit location was just another Harper SNAFU, the consequences were severe.

Millions of Torontonians had their lives interrupted by the largest security operation this country has ever seen. Tens of thousands of well-intentioned, peaceful protestors had their messages drowned-out by the criminal actions of a few. Thousands of front-line cops spent the weekend sweating inside riot helmets and gas masks, watching the all-important trust between the public and their profession slip away.

And the hundreds of people involved in decision-making about security must resent being place between the proverbial rock and several hard places: a demanding U.S. Secret Service intent on protecting the greatest assassination risk since JFK; an interventionist Prime Minister’s Office obsessed with optics; a Black Bloc relishing another chance to exploit the urban domain; and millions of law-abiding folks whose safety, civil liberties and property the police exist to “serve and protect” — at least on non-summit days.

The security planners made mistakes, too.

Building a three metre-high security fence was an error, since it provided a visible target for protestors. Showing off rubber bullets and sound cannon to the media in advance of the summit was a mistake, since it made the police seem committed to conflict. Sending officers in riot gear to meet and redirect peaceful protests was foolish; ordering them to done gas masks before violence broke out was insane.

And mistakes were made once the violence began. Holding off on arrests until after the worst of the property damage had occurred was an error, since the anarchist leaders had left by then. Abandoning police cars in the path of protestors was at best stupid, and at worst an invitation to set them aflame.

Widespread violations of Charter rights on Saturday afternoon and Sunday will tie up the courts for years. The police were likely ordered to do something, anything, by an angry PMO.

. June 28, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Agent provocateur tactics at the G20 Protests? A forum for evidence and Discussion
June 28, 2010 by northernsong

After the incidents at Montebello and Pittsburg, Sid Ryan claimed it was not beyond the police to use agent provocateur tactics to try to provoke violence at the G20 riots in Toronto. Mike McCormack, the president of the Toronto Police Association, demanded he step down over the remarks – claiming it was “a totally irresponsible, inflammatory and idiotic thing to say for someone in his position.” For the Toronto Police Association’s demand to have any moral force, it must not, therefore, be proven that the Police in fact used any agent provocateur tactics during the G20 protests. Therefore, I am here trying to catalogue all the pieces of evidence I can potentially find which suggest, or ideally prove, that they in fact did. I will not claim any pieces of evidence are certain proof – and I will leave the thread open to discussion of the evidence but not irrelevant remarks.

Tristan June 28, 2010 at 9:52 pm

The police were complicit in the black block violence – they strategically left cars to be smashed up, and may even have participated in the smashing and attempted flipping over of the cars. Also, the police were complicit in permitting the rampant reproduction of images of violence by not putting the fires out for hours and hours. The police used these images of violence to justify massive violence against the peaceful wing of the march which congregated outside the legislature later in the day. Two senior women were beat when they asked a police officer where they should go to leave the crowd, and a man with a pace maker was tazed, until he was able to produce identification which proves he has a pacemaker.

The violence continues in the reprehensible conditions of the detention centre.

It’s fine to be opposed to smashing a few windows – I certainly am – but it’s more important to be opposed to violence committed by the police. A crime is always worse when committed by one whose job is to uphold the law.

Read my post on the growing evidence of police agent-provocateur activity here: http://northernsong.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/agent-provocateur-tactics-at-the-g20-protests-a-forum-for-evidence-and-discussion/

Tristan June 28, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Anyone who believes they live in a free state should be very worried about the arrests of TCMN organizers before the protests – apparently organizing rallies is now “conspiracy to commit mischief”. People should also be concerned about illegal police raids like the one that happened to me on Saturday –
http://northernsong.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/this-is-what-a-charter-violation-feels-like-the-illegal-police-raid-on-429-brunswick/

But most of all we should be concerned about the violence taking place right now in the “detention centre”. A journalist who was on assignment from the Guardian newspaper was beaten and described horrific conditions in the temporary jail. You can see an interview with him here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ-v48RjA54

There is also a report on conditions in the detention centre on my brother’s friends blog:
http://lexgill.com/2010/06/28/urgent-conditions-at-629-eastern-ave-illegal-immoral-dangerous/

. June 28, 2010 at 10:13 pm

“People were held for up to 35 hours with a single meal. None seemed to have received food more than twice daily, the meal they did receive was a hamburger bun with processed cheese and margarine described as a centimeter thick. Detainees had to create loud noises for hours to receive any food at all. All reported feeling more ill and dehydrated after eating than before. Some vomited and received no medical attention when they did. Water was not provided with the meal.
Inadequate water, as little as an ounce every 12 hours. Although some people reported receiving approximately an ounce (a small Dixie cup) of water every three hours, most seemed to have received far less than that. They had to create loud noises and continuously demand water, only to receive it up to an hour and a half later. Sometimes rooms with over a dozen people were only given a handful (four or five) cups of water and forced to share. Some reported the water as yellow-coloured and smelling of urine, which they didn’t drink.

Facilities over-capacity.There were many reports of “cages” filled with 40 people, though a police officer told one detainee that they were intended for groups of no more than 15 to 20. Each cage had a single bench, with only enough seating for five people. There was only one toilet in each cage and it was without a door. Women were creating barriers with their bodies for others to create some semblance of privacy.”

“Unsanitary and unsafe living conditions. Many of the floors of the cages were covered with dirt and the residue from green paintballs used to identify suspects in crowds. Vomit was also on the floor and no cleaning of the cages took place.”

“Sexual harassment of women and Queer people. We heard many first-hand accounts of cat-calls and crude sexual comments directed at women from police officers at the Centre. Some women faced inappropriate sexual contact (including one girl who was forced to endure a police officer covering her body with detainee number stickers in order to touch her), and rough handling from police officers. Openly Queer boys were told to “straighten up,” and there was at least one completely nude strip search preformed on a young woman with no reasonable explanation. It is unclear whether the strip searches that took place were consistently conducted by members of the same gender. It is also unclear as to whether any Transpeople, if detained, were put in cells of a gender of their own determination or in cells of a police gender assignment.”

“Denial of legal counsel. When detainees asked to see lawyers they were told that they would receive legal counsel at a later time or at the time of processing. Often, these times went by and no legal counsel was provided. Those released without charge were told to avoid contacting lawyers. Most detainees said they were never informed of their rights.

No phone call. About only one in ten of the detainees we spoke to had been given access to a phone. Others were promised access at a later time and never received it. There was a father waiting outside for his 20-year old son who had been arrested Saturday afternoon or evening, and had yet to receive a call. Many of the detainees were told that only 20 phones were available in the building, holding over 500 detainees at the time. The offices of legal counsel also had no landlines.”

Jonathan June 28, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Agreed, it certainly is a big problem… but there’s probably little to be done about it, other than the rest of us standing up both for everyone’s right to protest, and denouncing the stupidity. Granted, that’s a pretty motherhood statement, but I’ve got nothing else.

Oh, and I agree with Byron Smith; the authorities do what they can to incite an incident so they can squash it. It’s probably easier for them, like a controlled burn.

Alison June 28, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Having gone to several of the protests, I can tell you that Toronto was effectively militarized over the G20. I am disgusted by the intimidation, detainments, and well-orchestrated violations of civil liberties.

Tristan June 29, 2010 at 12:22 am

The authorities did nothing to squash the incident they provoked. They let the cars on Queen street burn for hours, and the whole area was completely abandoned for ages while riot police beat down peaceful protestors in other areas of the city.

mek June 29, 2010 at 1:52 am

If you ignore them, they will go away.

That said, I don’t believe the black bloc are “real” for a second. They are 100% guaranteed to be agent provocateurs, because if they were honest-to-god morons they would attention whore themselves afterwards. They are totally silent, appearing only at choice events to discredit legitimate protest, vanishing completely after their task is done. Give me a a fucking break.

Sarah June 29, 2010 at 4:03 am

I’m with Tristan in finding the police tactics (including sometimes using agents provocateurs) far, far more concerning than the actions of the Black Block. The police are agents of the state, & as such they need to be held to an appropriate standard of conduct – which it seems fairly clear wasn’t adhered to in Toronto.

Re. the Black Bloc, I wouldn’t engage in those tactics, but I think it is wrong to characterize property destruction in which nobody is hurt as ‘violence’ or to use it as a justification for massive over-policing. Things get broken every day, possibly by some of the people involved in the Black Bloc, and we haven’t figured out how to solve it on an everyday basis so I can’t see why we would expect to prevent it at every protest. I met two Black Bloc guys on the bus in Vancouver when they were on their way to an anti-olympics protest, and they decided not to attend when they saw that the other attendees weren’t folks who wanted to smash things. The guys I met weren’t personally intimidating, but they were talking casually about stealing cars & joyriding (to two other guys travelling downtown in order to sell their stolen box of Starbucks coffee – it was a memorable bus ride!), so I doubt that moral appeals would get you very far in persuading them not to attend protests.

. June 29, 2010 at 12:26 pm

“Matthew Beatty, 32, Ajax high school teacher

A volunteer legal observer with Movement Defence Committee (MDC) for the G20 weekend, Beatty was following a protest march down The Esplanade on Saturday evening when he was arrested. “I was on the sidewalks, never jeered or chanted with the crowd,” he said.

He was handcuffed and put in a “cage” with 20 others at the Eastern Ave. detention centre. “There were 40 people in one cage — it was brutal, and it was cold.” People were asking for toilet paper to wrap their arms and legs because of the cold, he said. During 18 hours in custody, he was given three cheese sandwiches, three cups of water and a cup of flavoured juice.”

“Jean-Christophe Martel, 21, Granby, Que.

Martel was arrested on the subway at 11 a.m. Sunday after police searched his bags and found something they considered to be heroin in his emergency medical kit. Police charged him with trafficking heroin.

Martel says he was not involved with the violence in any way.

After 24 hours, he was released from the detention centre Monday afternoon and the charge against him was dropped.

“I’m going back to Quebec,” he said. “I’ll never leave that province again.””

Tristan June 29, 2010 at 12:28 pm

“Arguably, it also helps prevent the various legitimate organizations that attend these protests from engaging meaningfully with one another.”

Then combat this by blogging about the legitimate organizations that protested at G20, rather than reproducing the black-block’s media dominance. Blog about no-one-is-illegal, OCAP, Six Nations Solidarity, Climate Justice Montreal, etc…

. June 29, 2010 at 2:11 pm

“Now, in the aftermath, it’s all about the battle for public opinion. My political inclinations put me on the side of the protesters, but regardless of where our political inclinations lie, I think we should all want to know what really happened out there. I want a full public inquiry into the events of this weekend. There’s an unprecedented amount of video and photographic evidence which needs to be examined and analyzed in order to provide a more complete picture of what happened. There are thousands of eyewitnesses.

Someone asked me if I always think the cops are in the wrong. No, I do not. But they’re the ones with the most weaponry, armor, power and anonymity. They’re the ones vested with the authority to use that weaponry and power. Power is so easily abused, especially in large numbers, especially under the cloak of anonymity, and probably more so under volatile circumstances. I have no doubt that some police behaved in an entirely appropriate manner, and others did not. Same with the protesters. But the police can infiltrate and impersonate protesters to manipulate the situation (and have been known to do so), whereas the reverse is not true.

Even more important than any individual and spontaneous acts of wrongdoing, I want to know which acts of wrongdoing were part of the plan.”

XUP June 29, 2010 at 2:28 pm

“It just distracts from serious discussions. Arguably, it also helps prevent the various legitimate organizations that attend these protests from engaging meaningfully with one another.” Like Mek said, I think that’s the whole point behind this Black Bloc and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they weren’t hired by our government to do exactly that.

Alison June 29, 2010 at 4:14 pm

http://www.blogto.com/city/2010/06/police_enforce_make-believe_security_fence_law/

“Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair admitted today that there never was a five-metre rule permitting cops to stop and search individuals who came too close to the G20 security perimeter.

Blair said he mislead the public because he, “was trying to keep the criminals out.”

The only changes that were made were with regards to property. The Ministry of Community Safety says the cabinet updated the laws that govern entry in places such as courthouses and areas inside the G20 fences. “

. June 29, 2010 at 4:20 pm

David Martin, Greenpeace’s climate change campaign coordinator, said the group behind the violence has “no base and no credibility.”

“Yet this very small group of irresponsible people… has taken media attention away from the coverage of essential issues, like climate change, foreign aid… maternal health and so on,” he said.

“I am not a pacifist. I am for civil disobedience, but not for this kind of crazy violence.

“The Black Bloc people say they want social change, but in fact they have an adrenaline addiction to violence,” he added.

“They live for these international events but tomorrow they’ll disappear and leave us to do the hard work, which they’ve now made harder for us.”

Tristan June 29, 2010 at 5:10 pm

What is the greater violence here? The smashing of a few windows, or compromising the legitimacy of the police through rampant and systematic charter violations? And the mayor’s compromising the legitimacy of his office by lying to the public about the law?

. June 29, 2010 at 5:13 pm

CCLA Releases A Preliminary Report of Observations during the G20 Summit

“The CCLA is calling on all levels of government to take immediate action to correct some of the weaknesses in the legal framework surrounding public order policing in Canada. It also demands that independent inquiries be conducted into several aspects of the policing during the G20 Summit. In particular, we ask for:

Repeal or significant amendment of the Public Works Protection Act to meet basic constitutional standards

Withdrawal of all charges laid under the Public Works Protection Act

Implementation of consultation and transparency requirements for regulatory processes

Apology from the Ontario government for the process used to adopt the designation pursuant to the Public Works Protection Act

Implementation of better guidelines for the establishment of security perimeters

Regulation of new crowd control technologies prior to their use and deployment

Compensation for business owners and for persons wrongfully arrested

Amendments to the Criminal Code to modernize and bring up to constitutional standards the provisions relating to breach of the peace, unlawful assemblies and riots

Full independent inquiry into the actions of the police during the G20, in particular:

The dispersal of protesters at the designated demonstration site in Queen’s Park on Saturday June 26th

The detention and mass arrest on the Esplanade on the night of Saturday June 26th

The arrests and police actions outside the Eastern Ave. detention centre on the morning of Sunday, June 27th

The prolonged detention and mass arrest of individuals at Queen St. W. and Spadina Ave. on the evening of Sunday, June 27th

The conditions of detention at the Eastern Ave. detention centre”

http://ccla.org/2010/06/29/ccla-releases-a-preliminary-report-of-observations-during-the-g20-summit/

Tristan June 29, 2010 at 5:16 pm

A photo journalists account of the black block violence.

In short: no police confronted the protestors as the violence happened, despite hundreds of riot police.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5G7aCgXtWg&feature=channel

Tristan June 29, 2010 at 6:39 pm

As a citizen, it’s civilly irresponsible to discuss the black block without emphasizing that in the past, the police have admitted to using agent provocateur tactics to incite violence in crowds while wearing “black block” gear.

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2007/08/22/ot-police-070822.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7S1nHvvkzvA&feature=related

Mek June 29, 2010 at 7:51 pm

A billion dollar security apparatus will find a way to justify its existence.

alena June 29, 2010 at 8:50 pm

I don’t condone police violence and brutality, but I also think that it is wrong to turn the violent and messageless protestors into martyrs. Let’s face it; how many of them have a history of social activism, involvement in their community and goals greater than their own moment of fame? This is not a grass-roots movement, but a bunch of losers who intentionally sabotaged any meaningful protest. I feel no pity for them.

Milan June 30, 2010 at 12:51 am

I think the key distinction to draw is not between protesters and police, and the individuals I was condemning in this post are not all part of the first group. I condemned “window smashers” and “bandana-wearers” regardless of the motivation for their action, and noted with concern how their actions help justify the “expense and intrusion of the heavy-handed security.”

The key distinction is between those who see their interests as served by violence and those who do not. Everybody in the first category is a problem – whether they are anarchists, protesters concerned about legitimate causes, police officers, or private security personnel.

The big question is how to move beyond this dynamic. At every recent meeting of this type, the outcome has been similar – a violent minority, harsh police behaviour, and media coverage dominated by those things. I feel like I could have written all the media coverage on this G8/G20 summit, with plausible details filled in using past such meetings as a template.

The first idea that came to mind for changing that dynamic is more work within the activist community to distinguish between those groups (the ones who see violence as useful, and those who do not).

The police

Obviously, there also needs to be effort to counter the perverse incentives that security forces face: particularly the way in which violence can serve their ends by justifying the state granting them more money and power. As I have written about many times before, oversight over security services is a fundamental part of all healthy societies. It is especially worrisome when security services are able to evade oversight and due process, either because of unjustified claims about security or as the result of other forms of underhanded dealing.

Sensible members of the security services should also be taking note of just how much anger and distrust these sort of outcomes create towards them, at least within a subset of the population. Since the summit began, the overwhelming message from friends of mine on social media sites and from news sources I have read has been condemnation of the police – with accusations ranging from the entirely credible to the rather implausible. Hopefully, members of the security services can also be made to realize that while this sort of violence may seem to serve their short term interests, it doesn’t serve any of us well in the long term.

Moving forward

The productive thing to do in response to all of this is have a civil discussion about why this harmful dynamic has emerged, and what can be done to move beyond it. Humanity has never before been faced with issues that are so important and internationally integrated. As such, it serves us poorly for the civil society contribution to major international meetings to be dominated – at least in terms of public perception – by reciprocal anger about violence being used by any one group of people against any other.

Is there any way this situation can be de-escalated, becoming more like a frank and honest public conversation about key issues and less like a maelstrom of accusations, anger, and outrage?

. June 30, 2010 at 10:39 am

Thousands stood up for humanity
Marchers braved hooligans, police and even the weather to push people’s agenda

Sid Ryan President, Ontario Federation of Labour

Last Saturday, more than 30,000 people — much higher than media estimates — from across Ontario joined the People First rally in Toronto during the G20 Summit. Our message was clear: we told world leaders — including our own Prime Minister Stephen Harper — to put the needs of human beings and the environment ahead of all other considerations as they deliberated over the weekend.

The rally organizers, including the Ontario Federation of Labour, worked diligently to ensure that our democratic right to lawful assembly would be respected, and that citizens could participate in a safe and peaceful event.

To this end, we liaised with the Toronto Police and cooperated at every turn. On the day, hundreds of volunteer marshals facilitated what was an extraordinarily successful event, given the tension that had pervaded the city in the days before.

Shamefully, a small number of hooligans used the cloak of our peaceful and lawful demonstration to commit petty acts of vandalism in the streets of Toronto. These actions were as deplorable and inexcusable as they were violent and self-serving.

Despite their stated goal of challenging the anti-democratic nature of the G20, these actions actually undermined democracy, both within the progressive movement and among ordinary citizens. The weeks and months of effort to educate and activate ordinary people on issues of social, environmental, and economic justice — issues that must be addressed to save our planet — went up in flames.

Tristan June 30, 2010 at 10:41 am

“Is there any way this situation can be de-escalated”

The situation should not be de-escalated until a public enquiry reveals the truth about what happened, and the political motivations behind it. The real blockheads at the g20 were the police – who strategically withdrew from Queen Street and Young Street so the block would have a clear shot to commit their violence. This in all likely hood was politically motivated because it serves two goals: justifying in the public eye an incoherent amount of spending on security, and de-legitimizing the peaceful protest. This is becoming more and more exposed. See this blog/collection of videos:

http://torontog20exposed.blogspot.com/2010/06/evidence-that-police-let-vandalism.html

And this photo journalist account:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5G7aCgXtWg&feature=channel

Anon June 30, 2010 at 11:36 am

Somebody should do a comparative analysis of the last twenty or so of these big meetings/protests. They could look at differences in how many people turned out, where they were held, and what responses the authorities prepared.

By providing information on best (and worst) practices, that could provide useful guidance to organizers of future meetings as well as future demonstrations.

Tristan June 30, 2010 at 11:36 am

“I don’t condone police violence and brutality, but I also think that it is wrong to turn the violent and messageless protestors into martyrs. Let’s face it; how many of them have a history of social activism, involvement in their community and goals greater than their own moment of fame? This is not a grass-roots movement, but a bunch of losers who intentionally sabotaged any meaningful protest. I feel no pity for them.”

I’m personally offended by this statement. Many people who were intimidated and detained are people I personally know, and who are involved in grassroots organizing. And many more that I don’t know are also at the centre of grassroots organizing and trying to network together the multitude of different grassroots organization into a coalition. Specifically many of the organizers of Toronto Community Mobilization Network were arrested before the protests even began on conspiracy to commit mischief charges. So – it is not legally permitted to organize any kind of broad coalition of grass roots activists?

“This is not a grass-roots movement, but a bunch of losers who intentionally sabotaged any meaningful protest. I feel no pity for them.”

The analysis that those who do commit vandalism do it for fame is extremely weak – none of them are personally identifiable, so they cannot receive any personal fame. They are not a “group” in the normal sense – they have no leader, and they have no meetings. I have met some people who believe in these tactics, and while I disagree with their methods we share a desire for a future where the current systems of hypocricy (which will in all likelyhood exterminate the species) are replaced by community based local power structures. They are not willing to sacrifice change for fame – they think violent methods will produce the change which they want. It’s possible to disagree with someone about methods (and even about the moral content of actions), while not dismissing them as people who “intentionally sabotaged any meaningful protest.”

alena June 30, 2010 at 12:32 pm

I think that a violent mob is a group, and leaders usually emerge in it. These violent individuals do not represent a common will to bring about change and do not have a coherent philosophy. That said, it does not mean that if you have a philosophy and common cause, that you will succeed. I am sorry that your friends were arrested and treated poorly. My brother was arrested in former Czechoslovakia when he was protesting against the Soviet invasion. Many people were arrested, lost their work and highly educated people either left the country illegally or worked under ground. It took 22 years for the Warsaw pact troops to leave, but during that time there was almost no violence. If the Czechs and Slovaks had reacted with violence, there would have been terrible bloodshed.

Tristan June 30, 2010 at 12:40 pm

“I think that a violent mob is a group, and leaders usually emerge in it.”

The group literally does not exist outside its reality in the protest itself. See David McNally on the CBC discussing this: http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/ID=1531631512

“These violent individuals do not represent a common will to bring about change and do not have a coherent philosophy.”

Have you spoken with any?

Tristan June 30, 2010 at 12:44 pm

That CBC link is flaky – here is a vimeo link to the same interview with David McNally – http://vimeo.com/12920201

Tristan June 30, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Also, you have to ask why the police cars were let sit on the streets for several hours – that’s the amount of time that passed between the cars being abandoned by the police and smashed up, and the time they were set on fire. I was there when the cars were initially smashed, and I was there when they were being lit on fire – there was a large gap of time between. And during that time Queen street could have easily been secured and tow trucks could have removed both those damaged vehicles.

. June 30, 2010 at 1:34 pm

“Clearly, Chief Blair has a lot to answer for. But it was the Liberals who set this mess in motion, and declined to put an end to it when they had ample chance.

First, the government failed to announce its new law. A simple press release could have explained what the regulation, which is worded in such a way that even police claim to have been confused by it, did and didn’t cover. Instead, the province buried it on a government website, such that nobody heard about it until an arrest was made.

Worse, the Liberals made no effort over the weekend to set the record straight, even though virtually every media outlet was reporting that people merely passing by the fence could find themselves in deep trouble. Mr. McGuinty could have stepped forward and reassured the public that the liberties of anyone not trying to enter the security zone were intact. Instead, he offered only “a lot of confidence in Chief Blair” and “very strong support of this time-limited extraordinary measure,” which reinforced the impression that the latter included the zone’s surrounding area.

Now, the Liberals are ducking any responsibility for the fact that they effectively (if inadvertently) gave police powers they were never intended to have. “The language of the regulation is very clear,” a spokesperson said, even as other senior Liberals acknowledged that they themselves were confused by it. Meanwhile, the Premier is nowhere to be seen, having not talked to reporters yet this week.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/adam-radwanski/mcguinty-washes-his-hands-of-police-mistreatment-allegations/article1623731/

Tristan June 30, 2010 at 1:36 pm

“a bunch of losers who intentionally sabotaged any meaningful protest. I feel no pity for them.”

Wait a minute – do you think “losers” are undeserving of charter rights, and that it is appropriate to subject them to extreme cold, unsanitary conditions, and threats of violence including sexual violence? Because that is what “having no pity” suggests in this context.

. June 30, 2010 at 3:00 pm

“7 hours into custody, the people break. A shout for water breaks into a little riot, all cells yelling water, shaking the cages, and kicking at the doors. People with cracked lips and cracking voices – I’ve been awake for 22 hours now. Luckily a guy in our cell kept a watch. The place is going insane, we are told by guards “We’re working on it!” some are apologizing, some are obviously lost and confused, others are laughing.”

“Across from our cell Special Constable C. Smit, a short white female officer with blonde/brown hair stands guard. We nicely talk with her through the cage. “Please tell us how you can do this? We are begging for water in here. This guy is only 16 and this guy passed out. Your co-workers laugh. They are joking to us about our rights and laughing at a disabled kid. You know this is wrong, what’s happening” after too much of this, with tears in her eyes she breaks “I don’t know anything, no one here knows anything! I’m not even a cop..” she then leaves in a hurry. Madness.”

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#!/note.php?note_id=397205503638&id=511491565

. June 30, 2010 at 3:02 pm

“The spokeswoman for the Toronto Community Mobilization Network was arrested Sunday outside activist “convergence space” at Queen and Noble on Sunday afternoon. She said she was driven around the city in an unmarked police van for four hours, taken to the detention centre for about 30 minutes and released without charge.

Adrangi, who was born in Iran, said she endured racist and sexist comments from police, who made fun of her name and the photos they took of her. “I was really angry and frustrated that the cops felt entitled to do that to people,” she said.

“One cop said to me, ‘If you were my daughter I would slap you in the mouth.’ ””

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontog20summit/article/829921–i-will-not-forget-what-they-have-done-to-me

. June 30, 2010 at 3:02 pm

“Tim V. Wight, 23

Wight says he was at Queen’s Park participating in a peaceful protest all day Saturday. “I was there . . . to protest my concerns about the stripping of human rights within the city and the blatant waste of a billion dollars.”

When police entered the park , Wight began to ask questions about why they were entering a peaceful protest zone. Police told him to move and said they would hit him if he didn’t back up. He prepared to leave but then officers grabbed him, knocked him down and kicked him twice in the face with heavy boots. He was treated for a concussion and had to have his forehead stitched.”

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontog20summit/article/829921–i-will-not-forget-what-they-have-done-to-me

. June 30, 2010 at 3:09 pm

From Dan Hamilton’s account:

“I was inside for about twenty six hours. At the 24th hour I demanded to be released because that is my right. They assured me that my rights don’t apply in that building. They said “sometimes your rights just don’t apply here”. I responded I think they apply everywhere.”

“When I mentioned my boyfriend…the people here don’t take kindly to your type. I recommend you act straight….I’m going to put you and your boyfriend in a segregated room….the entire group was not homophobic whatsoever, the only people in that building who were homophobic were the police.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ntcr5E_LE7M&feature=related

alena June 30, 2010 at 5:02 pm

I am sure that many of the examples that you quote are real in the eyes of the person concerned. I have learned over the years of counseling that people often see events from their own perspective and believe it to be true. I do not think that protesting should put you in jail and subject you to humiliation. I realize that in Canada, people should not fear arrest when expressing a different point of view, but if our system has sunk so low, than it may be necessary. Many political and social activists around the world must accept the possibility/probability of arrest if they are committed to a cause. How far are people prepared to go in order to bring about change? Smashing and burning cars, breaking windows and destroying public property is simply not a legitimate form of protest in a peace-loving country.

Tristan June 30, 2010 at 5:39 pm

“Smashing and burning cars, breaking windows and destroying public property is simply not a legitimate form of protest in a peace-loving country.”

Does any amount of property damage justify police crimes?

Should anyone in jail be subject to humiliation, whether they deserve to be there or not?

As for whether the accounts were “true”, there are many accounts which confirm the abuses, and the bare facts about how much water was provided, how often, and in what condition (and inadequate food as well) has been confirmed by National Post photographers who were themselves incarcerated.

The general public’s willingness to commend the police in the face of multiply confirmed reports of charter violations, humiliations, and threats, is disgusting. It’s actually this public acceptance of police terror justified by a few burning cars that shows our system has “sunk so low”.

. June 30, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Jon Stewart Takes On The G-20 Summit (VIDEO)

“It’s like these G-20 protests have become little more than festive yearly gatherings like an anarchist Thanksgiving… Are they aware how strange the juxtaposition is between the barbaric behavior of the streets and the sophistic internet culture they exist in?”

. June 30, 2010 at 6:34 pm

“The vast majority, and perhaps the totality, of violence that was done against persons this weekend was in fact committed by police – and almost universally committed far from any vandalism, and against people who were not involved in any vandalism. Further, even if the violence had been committed only against individuals who had been committing vandalism, this is not excuse for the threats, the charter violations, and other forms of maltreatment individuals were subject to in police custody this weekend.

Evidence of police brutality, charter violations, and sexual threats against female persons is mounting and has begun to be exposed even in mainstream media. ”

http://northernsong.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/violations-of-basic-rights-at-the-g20-protests/

. June 30, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Criticism of ‘disproportionate’ G20 summit policing mounts

(AFP) – 1 day ago

OTTAWA — Accusations mounted on Tuesday of over-the-top policing during the weekend G20 summit in Toronto, after tear gas and rubber bullets were used to break up mobs, and more than 900 were arrested.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association said that police conduct during the meeting of the leaders of the world’s top economies, was “at times, disproportionate, arbitrary and excessive.”

The response to pockets of criminal activity was also “unprecedented, disproportionate and, at times, unconstitutional,” the rights group said in a report.

The abuses “exceeded the threshold of a few isolated incidents” and “they demand accountability,” it said, joined by several rights groups including Amnesty International in calling for an inquiry into police conduct.

Toronto’s mayor and police chief said the city’s Police Services Board, a civilian oversight panel, would review the squad’s actions, which they also defended.

“The fact that there were no serious injuries arising from all of the actions of the police over the course of the weekend is quite frankly extraordinary under the circumstances,” said police chief Bill Blair.

Officers “showed remarkable restraint in the face of enormous provocation,” he added. “They did their jobs.”

Canada spent one billion dollars to secure the back-to-back G8 and G20 summits in the Toronto area, hoping to avoid the kind of serious street battles that have marred recent global forums.

Thousands of police reinforcements backed by riot officers on horseback and spotter helicopters were drafted into the city center, much of which was sealed off behind concrete and steel barriers.

But two days of clashes left storefronts and windows in the financial district smashed and several police cars burnt out.

More than 900 people were detained, including some peaceful protestors, journalists and passers-by swept up in the largest mass-arrest in Canadian history.

Toronto the not-so-good

Jun 29th 2010, 17:33 by The Economist | TORONTO

BY THE standards of the protests that typically accompany summits of world leaders, the damage following last weekend’s G20 gathering in Toronto was relatively modest: some broken shop windows downtown and a few burnt-out police cars. Yet the unrest has prompted an orgy of handwringing in Canada’s financial capital, which still clings to its moniker bestowed by a Victorian-era mayor of Toronto the Good.

According to the mayor, David Miller, protests in the city have generally been nonviolent, and tended to congregate around the American consulate. That made many locals consider the government’s security preparations overkill. A whopping C$1 billion ($1 billion) was spent to protect the G8 and G20 summits (the latter was held in Huntsville, north of the city). Part of this went to building an unsightly concrete and steel fence downtown, and setting up ringed cordons manned by some 15,000 police within it.

In contrast, the demonstrations never exceeded 10,000 people. However, the protesters did abandon their traditional preference for symbols of foreign imperialism and attacked local banks and shops. “The idea that this was an effective way to show off Toronto to foreign guests is bewilderingly stupid”, opined the Toronto Star. “Canadian authorities created a city no citizen could recognise and no visitor could admire. Then, they allowed a pack of brutes to trash it.”

Other critics accused the police of doing too much rather than too little. Although there were no cases of outright brutality, security forces did use rubber bullets and tear gas to subdue protesters—the latter for the first time in recent memory. They were also surprisingly indiscriminate in their choice of targets: among the 900 people arrested were journalists and civil-rights observers, and one peaceful crowd was broken up just after completing a lusty rendition of “O Canada”, the national anthem.

The scene has prompted many Canadians to question their long-held assumptions about their own, well, goodness. Some stout patriots found Canadian authorship of such rabblerousing inconceivable. Both Mr Miller and the publisher of the country’s largest newspaper, who wrote a front-page editorial, said they were sure that foreigners or “the violent dregs of nihilism from around the world”, as the publisher put it, were responsible. The prime minister, Stephen Harper, has opted for a few-bad-apples explanation: he called the protesters “thugs” and said their actions justified the security expense. Some Toronto newspapers called the conflicts historic, forgetting the frequent 19th riots between Irish Protestants and Catholics, some of which were bigger and more violent.

Toronto police knew they had no extra arrest powers

Anna Mehler Paperny

From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail Published on Tuesday, Jun. 29, 2010 7:51PM EDT Last updated on Tuesday, Jun. 29, 2010 10:40PM EDT

Hours after Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair sat in front of a bank of cameras and microphones last Friday morning, defending the powers the province gave police to search, detain or arrest anyone coming within five metres of the G20 summit’s security fence, Toronto police received new information: The regulation specified nothing of the sort.

But police, having papered the area with pamphlets outlining G20-related security rules, felt no need to send out a press release clarifying how the regulation in question worked.

In total, police arrested more than 1,000 people over the course of the G20 summit. But of those, only 263 were charged with anything more serious than breach of peace – 714 people faced that minor charge, and were released unconditionally.

Another 113 were released unconditionally with no charges: They were arrested but not booked, said police spokesman Mark Pugash, who emphasized these numbers aren’t final. He said no one was arrested under the Public Works Protection Act who shouldn’t have been.

Environmental Groups Blast G20 Summit

Environmental groups say world leaders have failed to address the climate issue at the G20 summit in Toronto, Canada.

The executive director of Greenpeace USA, Phil Radford, summed up the G20 summit from his perspective.

“It is like a meal where you ask your friends to come and bring a dish,” he said. “Some countries came with things that were half-baked. Some countries like Canada came with food that was rotten and then others showed up with nothing at all,” said Radford.

World leaders met in Toronto, Canada for a two-day summit with the primary focus being the world economy. Environmentalists say the problem of climate change was not given due attention.

Radford says coping with climate change can and should go hand-in-hand with economic recovery. He says world leaders need to move forward with a plan to end subsidies on fossil fuels. Instead, he says, they have repeated the same promises made last year.

. July 1, 2010 at 2:39 am

“I was standing in the crowd about fifteen feet from the bass player when suddenly, with no warning and no provocation, police charged into the crowd and tackled a young man near the front. Some in the crowd at the rally began screaming and running backwards, while many remained calm and shouted to the police to let the young man go. I began taking photos with my iPhone of the violent arrest.

Then I looked up to see the police charging for me, closing in from only about seven feet away. I knew that to resist arrest would be a serious offense, thanks to years of training in nonviolence, so I did not resist. The police then tackled me and pushed me to the ground. I was able to put my left arm down to buffer my fall onto the pavement. Then one uniformed officer grabbed me around the waist, pulling me back to the dark blue side of the police line and throwing me face-down on the pavement. As he threw me my arms were being twisted behind my back. I was able to angle my right shoulder toward the pavement so that I did not hit the pavement with my face. Apparently my friend Robby was attempting to run forward through the crowd to perform a heroic act that would save me, but was being restrained by my friend Geoff, who feared that Robby would wind up arrested himself if he did anything.”

” Apparently I am charged with “assault of a police officer” that occurred on Sunday, June 27, just prior to my assault and arrest. The evidence will show that this is not the case. Strangely, the case against me mentions my Twitter page, which contains updates from Saturday’s march, including broken windows and burning police cars. I have not harmed anything or anyone. It is absolutely false.”

http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/story/story-my-arrest-detainment/3997

. July 1, 2010 at 10:06 am

“A TTC fare collector spent a “terrifying” 36 hours in custody after being arrested in uniform on his way to work during Saturday’s G20 summit protests.

Benjamin Elroy Yau, 37, said he was walking along College St. to the Queen’s Park subway station before his 6 p.m. shift when two police officers “tackled” him to the ground and yelled at him to stop resisting arrest.

“I told them I wasn’t resisting arrest, that I was on my way to work. I was in full uniform with TTC shirt, pants, full ID, my employee card, everything,” Yau said on Wednesday. “They said, ‘Really? Well, you’re a prisoner today.’ ”

Moments before, another man had run into him but kept going, Yau said, adding that man was also arrested. There was no protest in sight and not many people in the street, he said.”

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/830858–ttc-worker-caught-in-g20-police-sweep?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Tristan July 1, 2010 at 10:08 am

The TTC worker actually had more in common with the criminals on the street than most arrested – he was after all in uniform.

alena July 1, 2010 at 10:46 am

Happy Canada Day Tristan and everyone. In spite of all the anger, sadness and disappointment generated by the summit in Toronto, let us not forget that we are fortunate to live in an amazing country; one of the greatest ones in the world. We must use all of our resources to cherish it, improve it and work towards more justice, equality and opportunity for all.

Tristan July 1, 2010 at 10:58 am

If you want to live in an amazing country, you can’t stand idly by when its fundamental values are pissed on by those in power.

You can’t say

“We must use all of our resources to cherish it, improve it and work towards more justice, equality and opportunity for all”

And then say you have “no pity” for those in jail because somewhere on the news you saw a car burning.

Tristan July 1, 2010 at 11:00 am

* by “in jail” I mean in an illegal detention centre where you are denied right to counsel, right to a phone call, humane access to food and water, sanitary conditions are unacceptable, and many people are threatened with physical and sexual violence.

Tristan July 1, 2010 at 11:23 am

“We screamed for our rights the entire time, and I stopped cops and asked them how can you do this to another person? And other than the one Jesus Christ guy they said “it’s a paycheck, it’s a job, I get a vacation after this”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06fnnN81wcU&feature=related

Taking a paycheck over standing up for the charter is not “Canadian” – it’s cowardly. These cops were cowards, bowing down to illegitimate authority rather than standing up for fundamental Canadian rights and human dignity.

Milan July 1, 2010 at 1:51 pm

While the factual question of whether the police committed abuses is an important one, I think it is ultimately less important than the question of whether mass demonstrations can become politically relevant again (if they ever were) and, if so, how.

In particular, is there any way mass demonstrations can lead to improved climate change policies, especially in democratic countries like Canada, the United States, and European countries?

Tristan July 1, 2010 at 3:44 pm

No. The question of the police abuses is more important, because if they are allowed to continue, it makes it infinitely more difficult for mass protest demonstrations to continue to grow. If peaceful demonstrators are afraid of showing up because the police will use a few instances of violence as justification to beat and violate the rights of peaceful demonstrators, many fewer will feel safe coming to demonstrations.

If you’re interested in how education, demonstration and direction action can be directed towards climate change policy, check out http://climateactionmontreal.wordpress.com/

Tristan July 1, 2010 at 3:45 pm

“While the factual question of whether the police committed abuses is an important one”

The factual question of whether demonstrators caused mayhem or property destruction is an important question as well, and no less settled. Which is to say, there is overwhelming evidence for both “factual questions”, but neither has been settled in court or through an inquiry.

Milan July 1, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Both among police and among demonstrators, it is probably a small minority who see their interests as served by violence. Both the activist movement and the security services should be looking for ways to disempower such people in practical ways, as well as investigate and punish criminal acts.

That said, the question of effectiveness must ultimately be more important than the question of who was violent, or who abused power. If the demonstrations don’t have a practical effect, there is no reason to either support or oppose them.

That said, given that the summit itself doesn’t seem to have produced any important outcomes, perhaps it was always over-ambitious to think any protests could.

Tristan July 1, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Do you think the vast majority of the police “act in their own interests”? No, the police act on orders. And those orders have become political – the violence done towards peaceful protests without provocation last Saturday and Sunday in Toronto was in all likely hood politically motivated – it discredits the messages in the eyes of the media, and ergo, the mainstream public.

If you want to help the protests be potentially effective, develop a realistic political analysis of the production of violence and spectacle in the media, and recognize whose interests it serves. Get involved in the fighting of mis representation of popular demonstrations is by supporting the non-corporate media. I already purchased you a guest subscription to the Dominion magazine (http://www.dominionpaper.ca/), which produced collaboratively by media co-ops across Canada.

The 2010 media co-op (http://2010.mediacoop.ca/) set up for the G20 weekend did an excellent up to the minute job of covering the protests. Also look at the associated Toronto media co-op website – http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/, who’s coverage, while imperfect, is much closer to reality than any mainstream press on this event.

Milan July 1, 2010 at 5:23 pm

It seems sensible to make a distinction between the approved plan for managing demonstrations and any individual violations committed by officers. For example, the nature of detention cells was basically a matter of police policy. Any alleged threats to the personal safety of those inside them would probably have been individual violations.

When it comes to the approved plan, the moral situation for individual officers seems closely akin to the legal responsibilities of soldiers.

Milan July 1, 2010 at 5:27 pm

When it comes to evaluating the appropriateness of individual policies, a comparative analysis does seem like a sensible approach.

There is a big difference between making people uncomfortable – as the result of trying to manage large numbers of people – and committing serious violations of rights. It would be interesting to see if there are other examples of major demonstrations that have been managed better (or worse). It does seem likely that there are at least some in the latter group, given that nobody was apparently seriously injured in Toronto during the G8/G20 summit.

By contrast, there were serious injuries and one death at the G8 summit in Genoa in 2001.

Milan July 1, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Also, if you need to read specialized media sources to see how these protests were effective, that means they were not effective.

The totally dismissive Daily Show coverage of the protests seems like evidence that they failed, given that the Daily Show is a pretty sympathetic news show for those on the left.

Tristan July 2, 2010 at 1:22 am

“Also, if you need to read specialized media sources to see how these protests were effective, that means they were not effective.”

So, we just take whatever the corporate media gives us at face value. We should not try to do alternative media, to hold media accountable, to expose what’s politically motivated and covered up?

Get some real politics.

Tristan July 2, 2010 at 1:31 am

“It seems sensible to make a distinction between the approved plan for managing demonstrations and any individual violations committed by officers. For example, the nature of detention cells was basically a matter of police policy. Any alleged threats to the personal safety of those inside them would probably have been individual violations.”

This isn’t wrong, but I think these distinctions leave a bit to be desired. For one, the approved plan for managing demonstrators may not have been the orders – what’s written is not necessarily what is said. So, people may have been following illegal orders. This is both an individual violation (it is illegal to follow illegal orders) and an “approved plan” in the sense that you are carrying out a plan which has been “approved” by your boss.

Also, the threats to individual safety is at the same time individual violations, and also structural violations insofar as there is a culture in which this kind of threat is considered acceptable, and nothing has been done to address this culture of acceptability. So, it might be in effect the tacitly-approved-plan to threaten young women with rape, insofar as those in power know there is a culture of these threats and did nothing to make them culturally unacceptable within the force.

Milan July 2, 2010 at 4:42 pm

You can condemn the ‘corporate media’ all you like, but activist organizations that aren’t getting comprehensible messages into places where members of the general public can see them are never going to be politically effective. When they produce news that only their ideological affiliates read in niche publications, they are just talking amongst themselves.

This event has been a potentially useful demonstration of just how wide a gulf there is between the news I read and the news that people in general do. While my friends on social media sites have overwhelmingly been posting items that condemn the police, that seems to be a minority position within Canadian media generally. International mainstream media seem to have almost completely ignored complaints about police behaviour during the Toronto G8/G20.

I think I have yet to see a news story anywhere that talks about actual policy recommendations from any of the protestors at the G8/G20.

Tristan July 3, 2010 at 10:30 am

Why not go look for some, and post links on your blog?

. July 3, 2010 at 10:43 am

“So how radical is it to trash a few windows? It depends on what one means by radical. Radical is about workers gaining confidence and consciousness to fight back, not just at work, but in solidarity with others. Radical is about developing a sense of mass power, organising based on moving others into struggle, winning others to challenge the power in their workplace or community collectively, beyond the individualisation of our society. Radical is about going to the roots of the system—not trashing its symbols.

So it is much more radical organising a Starbucks, or winning co-workers to fight homophobia, or defending women’s rights than it is smashing a window.

When the black bloc does its thing, does it move struggles forward or backward? Does it in the eyes of those questioning the system, or moving into struggle, or thinking that something is wrong, radicalise them and give them confidence?

The answer is that outside of a small minority, these actions at best can inspire passive support from those who do not like police. But the majority have no confidence to engage in these actions themselves or agree with them. Instead of giving confidence, the tactics generally produce confusion and play into the hands of the state that would prefer it if no one ever protested. They allow the state to justify its repression and expenditures.”

http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/an-analysis-of-the-g20-protest-and-the-black-bloc/

. July 3, 2010 at 10:09 pm

“For that we can thank the small group of rioters who burned police cars and smashed store windows last Saturday. The logic behind those actions (and yes there is a logic) flows from the theory that capitalism is based on violence, albeit violence that is usually veiled. By provoking the state, this intrinsic violence will be revealed, thereby radicalizing the population against both capitalism and the state.

The problem with this theory, as the Red Brigades and other left-wing terrorists found in the 1970s, is that such provocations drive the general population to authoritarianism, not revolution.”

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontog20summit/article/831443–walkom-the-g20-summit-s-grim-lessons-for-civil-liberties

Byron Smith July 5, 2010 at 7:57 am

I’ve been away since this thread started and have just returned to it to discover that it has grown a little in my absence!

Thanks for a very interesting discussion. I find myself largely in agreement with Tristan on this though many others made important points. I hope that there is an official investigation, not least because it will make this story into mainstream news. The efficacy of public protests is indeed undermined by systematic police brutality.

. July 5, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Persichilli: For the Black Bloc, it’s mission accomplished

“The solitary police cruiser left burning in the middle of an empty street for more than an hour was the Bloc’s major trophy to show to the world — and a major embarrassment for our police. Herding hundreds of people, most of them peaceful demonstrators, was not the correct way to fight the Black Bloc. In fact, it was the only way to make them stronger.

That’s why Bill Blair is under attack and, along with him, the provincial and federal governments. In the meantime, Black Bloc members are gone: mission accomplished.”

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/831114–persichilli-for-the-black-bloc-it-s-mission-accomplished

. July 5, 2010 at 7:42 pm

G20: Where Have All Our Issues Gone?

By Mike Kaulbars

So the Toronto G20 meetings have come and gone, but they remain in the news and the public eye because of the protests. Thanks to citizen action more protests are following up on the G20, and the public has taken notice. Just one problem … outside of the progressive media, can anyone find any mention of what our issues actually were? Things like gender equity, poverty, the Tar Sands … any of it? Is that what people are talking about?

Of course not. What they are talking about is the vandalism and violence. Who is going to listen to demands for justice when there are burning police cars to watch? And the follow up protests? They’re about the violence too. All of the reasons that we were there in the first place? not merely never heard, but now displaced as energy goes into organizing the follow up demonstrations.

Of course there was police violence too, but lets talk about the handful of people who dress in black and use protests as an opportunity to act like frat boys on spring break. It is their actions that are displacing our issues from the public dialogue and which generate the follow up actions and activities. Naturally the police violence should be dealt with, but it seems more than enough people are talking about that.

. July 5, 2010 at 7:46 pm
. July 6, 2010 at 10:03 am

“The 57-year-old Thorold, Ontario resident – an employee with Revenue Canada and a part-time farmer who lost a leg above his knee following a farming accident 17 years ago – was sitting on the grass at Queen’s Park with his daughter Sarah and two other young people this June 26, during the G20 summit, where he assumed it would be safe.”

“One of the police officers used his knee to press Pruyn’s head down so hard on the ground, said Pruyn in an interview this July 4 with Niagara At Large, that his head was still hurting a week later.

Accusing him of resisting arrest, they pulled his walking sticks away from him, tied his hands behind his back and ripped off his prosthetic leg. Then they told him to get up and hop, and when he said he couldn’t, they dragged him across the pavement, tearing skin off his elbows , with his hands still tied behind his back. His glasses were knocked off as they continued to accuse him of resisting arrest and of being a “spitter,” something he said he did not do. They took him to a warehouse and locked him in a steel-mesh cage where his nightmare continued for another 27 hours.”

http://niagaraatlarge.com/2010/07/05/thorold-ontario-amputee-has-his-artificial-leg-ripped-off-by-police-and-is-slammed-in-makeshift-cell-during-g20-summit-%E2%80%93-at-least-one-ontario-mpp-calls-the-whole-episode-%E2%80%9Cshocking/

. July 6, 2010 at 10:05 am

“He never received an answer to these questions and, he said, “I was never told I was charged with anything.” Neither were many of the others who were penned up in that warehouse with him, including one person who was bound to a wheelchair because was paralyzed on one side and begging, over and over again, to go to the washroom before finally wetting his pants.”

. July 6, 2010 at 10:34 am

In an about-face, Toronto police are moving to establish an independent civilian review of police conduct during the G20.

Alok Mukherjee, chair of the civilian body that oversees the police, put the motion forward just days after he said he sees no need for an external review despite strident calls to the contrary.

The review, which would scrutinize issues related to police “oversight, governance and policy” during and leading up to the summit weekend, when police arrested more than 1,000 people – only 263 of whom were charged with anything other than breach of peace.”

. July 6, 2010 at 3:03 pm

“So, in a pique of Canadiana, permit me to get my Marshall McLuhan on; perhaps the meta is the message. Perhaps the value of the protests is not the policy points, but the protests themselves. The populace may not always be fully engaged; they may not have fully formed opinions, but they know when things aren’t going as well as they could, and they’re willing to let the politicians know. This, itself, is a useful message and a useful phenomenon. That the people will not just lie back casually as the country is steered in a wrong direction is a positive. That the people care enough to risk bodily injury and (un)lawful confinement just to express their grand displeasure is the sign of a healthy democracy. Kate’s right that it is better for the political debate for everyone to be fully informed and have thoughtful, reasoned policy arguments, but failing that (and we’re always going to be failing that), I’ll take a good visceral public reaction any day.”

. July 6, 2010 at 4:34 pm

“The Real G8/G20: A Civil Society Response”

http://therealg8g20.com/

. July 7, 2010 at 10:05 am

“No doubt, the Black Block are a lot of shit disturbing fuckers. But I expect shit-disturbing fuckery from shit disturbing fuckers. And while some will call me naive, I don’t expect shit disturbing fuckery from the police! To silence and incarcerate dissenting, yet law-abiding citizens en masse is hell-a creepy. I’ve spent this week writing letters partly fueled by outrage, but mostly fueled by a desperate need to have someone justify such a blatant act of institutional oppression.

Vandalism isn’t a reason to arrest a protester sitting in the street. Broken windows don’t make it okay to punch a journalist in the stomach when they question being detained. A flaming cruiser doesn’t make it legal to enter a person’s home…even it said person is an activist.

My desire to errupt into a self-righteous rampage dissipated the moment I realized how scared this all makes me. Because I think my family member might be scared too. She grew up, as I did being taught that if you did the “right” things, made good choices and stayed out of trouble, the system would protect you. Policemen are people well tell our children to seek out if they are lost. The police are the arbiters of law and order. They keep our nice safe worlds nice and safe. If that isn’t true, life becomes disarmingly random. If those people questioned, arrested, even charged didn’t “deserve it” somehow, it means it could happen to any of us…at any time. We live privileged lives, my family member and I. We’re actually a like in a lot of ways. But I cannot feel truly safe, knowing that the law will only protect me so long as I’m prepared bite my tongue and disengage from public debate. That is not how this shit is supposed to roll. Not at all.”

. July 7, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Police watchdog investigating five injuries from G20 weekend

Special Investigations Unit tasked to look into injury reports, determine if charges warranted

Anna Mehler Paperny

Toronto — Globe and Mail Update Published on Wednesday, Jul. 07, 2010 12:30PM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, Jul. 07, 2010 1:15PM EDT

An arms-length police watchdog is investigating five incidents of serious injury involving police officers during the G20. All five of the investigations were initiated by the police officers themselves.

The Special Investigations Unit is looking into the reported incidents, which happened on the Saturday and Sunday during Toronto’s G20 summit. The SIU is tasked to investigate incidents of serious injury, sexual assault or death involving police officers in local, regional and provincial police forces in Ontario.

More than one thousand people were arrested over the course of the weekend; 263 of them were charged with anything more serious than breach of peace.

Each of the incidents involve one person. Four of the incidents happened on Saturday June 26, and one on Sunday June 27.

SIU spokeswoman Monica Hudon couldn’t say which police services the involved officers came from, and she couldn’t give any more details on the incidents themselves.

. July 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm

“But the watchdog agency received more than twice its average number of complaints the week following the G20: 164 from June 27 to July 3, compared with an average of about 80.”

Milan July 7, 2010 at 2:40 pm

It seems remarkable that complains from the week of the G8/G20 would only be twice as high as those in an ordinary week, given all the extra police officers brought in and the number of people arrested.

Did anyone here lodge a formal complaint?

. July 8, 2010 at 12:53 am

“10 Interesting Things I Saw at the G20 Protests that the MSM Probably Isn’t Talking About

1 – The security build-up and intimidation factor of having so many heavily armed police in the streets kept the G20 protests from being even larger. Attendees to the rally at Massey Hall on Friday night believe that the turnout at the G20 was only a fraction of the people who wanted to protest – the rest were scared.

A massive security presence had the effect of silencing a lot of voices.

2 – Popular support for the protests was huge in Toronto. Cheers generally went up when televisions in pubs and restaurants showed news footage of the protests.
I can only recall speaking to one man who was critical of the protesters. Support for the Black Bloc was considerably smaller.

3 – Many of the peaceful protestors had some tense confrontations with the Black Bloc members.
People critical of the peaceful protesters for not stopping the Black Block should consider that most of the peaceful protesters didn’t have any idea there was any violence occurring a few blocks away – between the rain, crowds, umbrellas, distances involved, lack of familiarity with the local geography and jet lag it was hard for a lot of protesters know what was going on. Remember that the protesters were a lot of unconnected groups, and there was no central communication points – especially on the streets.

4 – I was at Queen and Spadina a few minutes before people in the area were kettled in a driving rainstorm for five hours. Many of these people were shoppers and onlookers, some of them had been patronizing the nearby restaurants and bars and came out to see what was going on.
Some of the people at Queen and Spadina were only there because their streetcars had been stopped at this spot. I’d suggest fully half the people kettled in that area weren’t even there to protest.

5 – Police conveys moved through Toronto streets at dangerous speeds, and they were usually only marked by one police car (some not at all).
Some of the police convoys contained vehicles marked as ambulances which appeared to be holding more people than a normal ambulance crew. The use of ambulances for purposes other than aiding sick and wounded people is shady practice, generally considered a war crime in international conflict. Hopefully the police did not use ambulances for anything other than their intended purposes.

6 – Even on Saturday night when the riots were at their height it was not particularly dangerous in Toronto. Toronto FC played the Los Angeles Galaxy at BMO field, and most business that were not right downtown remained open.

7 – Union members tried to prevent an attack on the fence on Saturday afternoon near Queen and Spadina by getting between the fence and some of the more angry protesters – things became more tense one they left. One union used a megaphone to advise its members NOT to go to the fence.

8 – At one of the more tense moments of the Saturday protests near Queen and Spadina, the protesters broke out in a chorus of “O’Canada”.

9 – This one should be obvious. Queen’s Park was a designated “free speech zone”; people need to be reminded that all of Canada is a free speech Zone.

10 – The id checks and backpack searches tended to be targeted at young people on the streets of Toronto (often far away from the protests), and in one instance I saw the police looking at the pictures that a young man had stored on his camera. This is a pretty serious privacy issue. Police formed a circle around the young man when a passer-by began to photograph the encounter. The overall surveillance of the event included at least one helicopter and two airplanes.”

http://western-canada.blogspot.com/2010/06/10-interesting-things-i-saw-at-g20.html

. July 8, 2010 at 2:09 pm

<a href="http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/07/08/peter-worthington-dont-blame-the-cops-for-g20-mess/&quot;.Peter Worthington: Don’t blame the cops for G20 mess
National Post July 8, 2010 – 10:04 am

By Peter Worthington

If anything is more misguided and unnecessary than the recent G20 Summit itself, it’s the decision to hold an independent inquiry into police actions that weekend.

A thousand arrests, 263 charged, no one seriously hurt, no police brutality, a serene citizenry, vandalism but no violence. Forget about it.

Oh, the civil liberties activists have their shorts in a knot, but they always do. Ignore them. As for “violence” and “rioting” on Toronto streets during the G20, that’s hyperbole and wishful thinking.

What was loose in Toronto that weekend was some hooliganism and mischief. No blood on the streets, no casualties, no real violence. The Black Bloc agitators smashed and grabbed, but they weren’t after blood. No Tehran here.

As for the occasional journalist being rounded up, into the temporary detention centre — that’s a hazard of the trade. Sure, they bellyache but their editors were probably pleased to have a staff member on the “inside” to report first-hand the horrors faced — like stale cheese sandwiches and insufficient drinking water.

To suggest there was police brutality is again wishful thinking by those who yearn for substance to malign the cops. Yes, some cops over-reacted, or questioned people unnecessarily. Or searched the wrong bag. Or questioned identities. But the city was on high alert for trouble.

Our police are not experienced in coping with riots or street violence.

The worst they’ve dealt with are street blockages by Tamil demonstrators. In any European capital, where demonstrations and violence are routine, the police are adept at clamping down quickly and ruthlessly. Thank goodness Canadian police are not experienced at the sort of mayhem other countries endure.

Tristan July 9, 2010 at 3:15 pm

“no police brutality”

Can you quote this with a straight face? I’m a pansy – I stayed away from what I thought would be the danger zones, but it was only blind luck that I was not in Queens Park (the “free speech zone”) when it was violently cleared out. I have two friends and one acquaintance who served on this medic team, and witnesses police brutality first hand.

“We gave out water and sunscreen, but we also dealt with severe injuries. All of the serious injuries we treated were inflicted by the police. While violence against property received a great deal of coverage, violence against people — broken bones, cracked heads and eyes filled with pepper spray – has yet to feature prominently in any mainstream media. Our teams of medics witnessed and treated people who had been struck in the head by police batons, had lacerations from police shields and had been trampled by police horses (See examples here, here, here and here).”

http://rabble.ca/news/2010/07/medics-g20-protests-speak-out-against-police-brutality-0

Tristan July 9, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Also, Jesse Rosenfeld was punched in the stomach by an officer while being held by two officers. I know this because I’ve since then personally met him and had the chance to discuss this and other matters with him. And, for doubters, I know this because his story was confirmed by Steve Palkin from TVO.

“The journalist identified himself as working for the Guardian,” Paikin tweeted. “He talked too much and pissed the police off. Two officers held him. A third punched him in the stomach. Totally unnecessary. The man collapsed. Then the third officer drove his elbow into the man’s back.”

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/06/28/g20-rosenfeld-police.html#ixzz0tDMAEv7Z

Tristan July 9, 2010 at 3:31 pm

“In any European capital, where demonstrations and violence are routine, the police are adept at clamping down quickly and ruthlessly. Thank goodness Canadian police are not experienced at the sort of mayhem other countries endure.”

In Germany, there are violent riots every time the NDP has a march or demonstration. The NDP is the strongest contemporary Neo-Nazi party in Germany. The police come out in force to prevent the demonstrators from blocking the march, using water canons, etc… It is difficult to condemn the violence of the demonstrators, since actions like smashing rented bus windows, and building barricades through which the Nazis can not pass, actually do serve to embarrass and weaken the fascist party.

In Greece the riots in opposition to the austerity measures (which are riots against the violation of Greek sovereignty by external financial organizations) are similarly difficult to dismiss. The economic policies being forced upon Greece from aboard are a form of agression, and the extent to which violent opposition (against property) is justified is simply the extent to which it is effective in bringing this agression to an end.

Canada does not have much of a history of popular uprisings against measures which hurt the vast majority of Canadians. 1983 in British Columbia is a lonely example – but it would serve us well to learn more about the Days of Solidarity, and how that could inform opposition to coming austerity measures justified by the irrational economic approach being trumpeted by Harper – which will hurt most people not only in Canada, but in the G2o countries more generally.

. July 12, 2010 at 10:35 am

Conspiracy theorists say G20 riots were an ‘inside job’

Joe O’Connor, National Post · Saturday, Jul. 10, 2010

In the video, we see a skinny young man with shaggy hair and a well-kept beard. He is wearing a hooded sweatshirt. His eyes are sunken. He looks like he needs a good night’s sleep.

The man fidgets with a rubber band while he speaks, telling the story about what he witnessed that day in Toronto when the storefront windows were smashed and the police cars burned, telling a camera what he believes to be the truth.

“There were two textbook, scrawny, meth-head-anarchists, but with them were two huge, ‘roided-out cops — agent provocateurs — with their police boots on and all wearing masks and stuff,” he says. “They led the charge and we heard explosions. I don’t know if it was them, but odds are, they lit a cop car on fire.”

Others are making similar claims in assorted corners of the Web, via YouTube clips with damning titles, such as “G20 Police Provocateur Wrecks Cruiser,” on blogs and message boards and in articles often linked to sites that promise to reveal the unspoken “truth.”

Questions are posed, ”evidence” proffered, conclusions tidily reached. The conspiracy is obvious, they say. It is right there for all to see, if only we would dare to look. The G20 riots were an inside job. It was police, posing as agent provocateurs, who trashed downtown Toronto to muzzle legitimate protest and justify the summit’s billion-plus-dollar price tag.

For the skinny young man in the video, and for a cacophony of voices on the Internet, preconceptions are brandished as proofs. A burly member of the Black Bloc becomes a “roided-out” cop bent on destruction; the thick-soled shoes of a protester become the jackboots of a government provocateur (more on that later); police cars abandoned on Toronto’s streets by officers fearing for their safety become sacrificial lambs conveniently parked in the path of the mob to provide a “controlled and complicit” mainstream media with fiery photo opportunities.

To the conspiracy-minded, there are monsters under every bed. And if you can’t see them, then you are simply one of the sheep. Conspiracy theorists operate under a “confirmation bias,” meaning they look for evidence supporting what they already believe to be true while ignoring any evidence proving it isn’t.

. July 12, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Opinion: G20 crackdown reeks of tyranny
Randy Hillier
Progressive Conservative MPP for Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontog20summit/article/834320–opinion-g20-crackdown-reeks-of-tyranny

“Can you imagine a society of law and order that does not respect the inherent civil liberties and freedom of mobility, association and assembly? What is law and order if you can be arrested and detained arbitrarily without reasonable and probable grounds? This is what happened on a large scale in Toronto. Stalin and Mao most assuredly would have agreed with McGuinty’s vision and views, that due process and evidentiary rules are optional. But law and order without civil liberties is the hallmark of despotism and tyranny, and are the stock in trade of injustice and evil.

Although there have been times of national crisis when civil liberties have been suspended, it has only ever occurred after a full and thoughtful debate — never in secrecy. It has happened when our country has been at war and our way of life under real threat. It has happened when civil unrest in Quebec led to bombings and the kidnapping and murder of public leaders; however, it was debated and voted upon with the public’s full knowledge of the War Measures Act.”

Tristan July 12, 2010 at 3:49 pm

“To the conspiracy-minded, there are monsters under every bed. And if you can’t see them, then you are simply one of the sheep. Conspiracy theorists operate under a “confirmation bias,” meaning they look for evidence supporting what they already believe to be true while ignoring any evidence proving it isn’t.”

This reporter is an idiot. First, if you bother looking, you can find many self-proclaimed black block actors who claim to have started the riot at the G20. Their testimony dispels the most simplistic conspiracy theories.

However, it is likely that some of the violence was carried about by police provocateurs. This isn’t a “conspiracy theory”, it’s a reasonable hypothesis. Video easily available clearly depicts under cover police dressed as black block running behind a police line with other under cover police during a snatch arrest. It’s the video which includes “Scary Cop Lady” if you’re interested in checking for yourself. Secondly, police in Canada have already admitted to using agent provocateur tactics at Montebello – and this was reported in the mainstream media. Union leaders outed cops dressed in black block holding large rocks in the Green zone (the area of the protest where the standing rule is no confrontation with police, so people can feel safe to bring their grannies and children).

. July 12, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Tory filibuster seeks to block hearings on G20 policing

Steven Chase

Ottawa — From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail Published on Monday, Jul. 12, 2010 10:13PM EDT Last updated on Monday, Jul. 12, 2010 11:00PM EDT

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are filibustering to block opposition efforts to launch hearings on policing at the Toronto G20 summit, accusing political rivals of seeking a platform to build sympathy for “thugs and hooligans” who rioted there.

Parliament is adjourned for the summer, and the opposition majority – the NDP, Liberals and Bloc – forced the Commons committee on public safety to reconvene on Monday to vote on whether to start federal hearings on the G20 security.

But during a two-hour meeting, Conservative MPs on the committee repeatedly requested speaking time to object to holding an inquiry now, and the Tory chair refused opposition demands for a vote. Opposition MPs together can out-vote the Tories on the committee.

“I don’t agree with the NDP and the fact it seems to be lining itself up with anarchist groups that went to Toronto and caused damage,” Tory MP Dean Del Mastro told the committee. “To recall this committee on an emergency basis is nothing more than a cheap political stunt.”

Outside the security perimeter at the G20 summit, stores in downtown Toronto were vandalized and police cars were set ablaze. More than 1,000 people were arrested, but only 263 charged with anything more serious than breach of peace. And the methods police used to disperse and detain protesters have been criticized.

Opposition parties accused the Tories of ducking scrutiny of their role in the matter, saying Canadians deserve a federal review of the conduct of security forces and alleged civil liberties violations.

Tristan July 13, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Are you planning writing another post about the G20 protests? Because if this is going to be your only post on this important event in Canadian history, then this blog will be complicit in reproducing the mainstream media narrative that focusses first and foremost on property violence, and then treats legitimate concerns of peaceful protestors as a side issue.

Byron Smith July 14, 2010 at 7:34 am

Tristan, I think your comment is a little unfair, given the fact that this post is a complaint about the ways that the violence of the few distract from the protest message(s) of the many. If your point is that this post doesn’t actually explain what these messages were, then there is some validity to it, but this post does at least raise the very point you are making.

Tristan July 14, 2010 at 12:14 pm

The post is entitled “black blockheads”. I understand the post is a criticism of the dominance of coverage given to the block. But in fact, if this remains the only post on the events of the G20 in Toronto, it simply re-produces that dominance.

Byron Smith July 14, 2010 at 12:18 pm

It may reproduce that dominance, but it doesn’t *simply* reproduce it. That is my point (otherwise your own comments criticising Milan’s criticisms would simply be guilty of the same problem, BTW).

http://www.marcrobertscartoons.com/index.php?globalid=1815

Milan July 14, 2010 at 12:21 pm

The major point of this post was to ask this question: “Is there any way to eliminate the bandana-wearers as a constant feature of these gatherings?”

If so, then how?

If not, perhaps we need to focus on other forms of activism, since big protests at international meetings seem to be tapped out, when it comes to effectiveness.

Tristan July 14, 2010 at 12:32 pm

By what standard is it “tapped out”. Because you can’t be bothered to consult alternative media accounts of the events? Because you can’t be bothered to help build an alternative media movement – because you think the existing business-fed mainstream media is adequate to the political challenges of the 21st century?

And yes, I think there are ways of eliminating it. But, you don’t eliminate it by simply decrying it – by dismissing anyone who engages in these tactics as crazy. You certainly don’t filibuster a committee meeting in order to prevent any kind of government probe into police brutality from taking place.

You look at the real grievances, and you ask how can the goals be achieved through actions which, no less militant, are non-violent and less easily dismissible by the mainstream.

In other words, if you want to do something about the “black blockheads”, you have to join the activists who advocate non-violent resistance, but who do not completely disengage and alienate themselves from those activists who honestly believe their tactics are effective.

Milan July 14, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Also, if you need to read specialized media sources to see how these protests were effective, that means they were not effective.

Unless you just want to preach to the converted, you need to get a message out to people who will find it novel. These protests are not succeeding at that.

Milan July 14, 2010 at 12:54 pm

“Read the niche media sources that we recommend, and you will see good coverage of our message” is the public relations equivalent of saying: “My mom thinks I’m cool!”

Tristan July 14, 2010 at 1:04 pm

So, you think it’s impossible to build an alternative media in Canada. That’s fine, you can believe that. But that belief – the belief that power structures can’t be challenged or reformed – is itself an example of the strength of anti-democratic ideology. In other words, the belief that alternatives and reform are impossible encourages us never to challenge the basic assumptions of power – so power doesn’t even need to defend itself from challenges to its assumptions.

You could, alternatively, be part of the solution. The Dominion Media Co-op (http://www.dominionpaper.ca/), and the related Toronto Media Co-op, Halifax Media Co-op, and Vancouver Media Co-op are all in relative infancy – but there is no reason to think they couldn’t grow and become an important part of the Canadian news spectrum.

And these are not the only examples of alternative media in Canada. During the G20 the “Alternative Media Centre” (located in the back of the Linux Cafe) supported alternative media journalists from across the country, working for numerous different papers, websites, blogs.

Alternative/Mainstream media is not an “either or”. It’s easy to read both, and the rising popularity of alternative media will affect the character of coverage in mainstream media.

For an example of some kind of cross-over, look at the Guardian’s “comment is free” website: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree
Is this the equivalent of “My mom is cool”? Or is this a serious and free forum for discussion?

Milan July 14, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Certainly, building up sympathetic forms of media is a form of progress. I am just saying that complaining about existing media sources doesn’t do anything to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or achieve any other goal.

One problem with alternative media is that they aren’t too discerning about which campaigns they take up. That shows a lack of strategy and prioritization. It also risks marginalizing climate change mitigation as an exclusive concern of the political left.

Tristan July 14, 2010 at 1:11 pm

“Unless you just want to preach to the converted, you need to get a message out to people who will find it novel. These protests are not succeeding at that.”

I think the police have inadvertently succeeded at uniting the message of non-violent protestors at the G20 – the coherent singular message is “we have the right to organize and speak out”. Police response to the vandalism was clearly an attack on any form of demonstration or dissent – and people across the country are understanding this.

Your job as a responsible citizen is to convince your friends and kin that a burning car does not justify the arrest of peaceful demonstrators, or the detaining for 4 hours in the pouring rain of people just trying to get to work (the Queen and Spadina kettling on Sunday).

The post-G20 protest movement (numerous marches in favour of civil liberties) have a strongly unified message, and many people can participate because they are being held in many Canadian cities.

If dissent of any form is to be criminalized, then the basic problem is not “how do we make a unified message”, but how do we retain the right to have a message at all.

Your dismissal of mass protest is a form of defeatism that plays into the line the Conservatives desire, and are pushing through their dismissiveness of any inquiry into G20 police brutality. They are saying loud and clear: “responsible citizens stay home”.

Tristan July 14, 2010 at 1:14 pm

“One problem with alternative media is that they aren’t too discerning about which campaigns they take up. That shows a lack of strategy and prioritization. It also risks marginalizing climate change mitigation as an exclusive concern of the political left.”

I don’t understand – wouldn’t it be a problem for the media to only cover a single campaign, or a single kind of campaign? Wouldn’t that mean violating any kind of principle of neutrality of the press?

I think it’s important that the alternative media not be the exclusive domain of the “left” – and I think it needn’t be. There are plenty of socially progressive conservatives, right wing libertarians, and small L liberals who are disappointed with the existing media in Canada. The idea is to build a subscription based media rather than an advertising based media – in other words, readers choice rather than sellers choice. I don’t see any reason why such a media must be “extremist left”.

In the words of a friend at the Toronto media co-op: “We hide our ideology behind the facts”.

Milan July 14, 2010 at 1:20 pm

the coherent singular message is “we have the right to organize and speak out”

This message is a distraction.

Nobody cares if a million people hold a rally, if that rally has no effect on public policy or opinion. The right to do so is an empty one, if the use of it is not effective.

Similarly, the arrest of peaceful demonstrators is a side issue. We have much bigger problems – with climate change foremost among them. If the protests had been effective, the arrests would have been worthwhile.

As it was, neither the summit itself nor the protests seem to have achieved anything of note.

Milan July 14, 2010 at 1:25 pm

I don’t understand – wouldn’t it be a problem for the media to only cover a single campaign, or a single kind of campaign?

There is a distinction between media sources, which naturally cover all sorts of things, and those trying to influence the messages that come out in the media.

There are lots of ways to do the latter: buy advertising to make them dependent on you, try to change the laws relating to the media, craft your messages in forms that lazy journalists can use easily (stunts, press releases, etc).

What is worrisome about media that is open to socially progressive causes is that their willingness to support different causes with little consideration for how important they are or where public opinion stands on them reduces their effectiveness as vehicles for promoting causes that are important, and where public support can be cultivated. This can be seen as not a problem, if you think the media play an essentially passive role (‘neutrality of the press’). But if media sources aspire to be agents of social change, they need to be more strategic about how they go about it. This is especially true for progressive media sources, which tend to be less disciplined and savvy than those that actively seek to perpetuate the status quo.

Tristan July 14, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Alright, so, we know your politics now:

1) The right to hold mass demonstrations is of no value

2) The arrest of peaceful demonstrators is of little importance

Would you feel differently if,

3) The mass demonstration (you know, the useless thing no one cares about) was in favour of carbon taxes. A million out on the streets for carbon taxes. No, that doesn’t mean anything because probably someone will smash a window and that will get all the coverage from the media that you think can’t be remade, pressured, or reformed.

4) Most who freely chooses to attend the carbon tax rally are arrested for breaching the peace. They are held for 12-36 hours in cages with 40 people which were designed for 20. Some police around them break down at the inhumanity being practiced, and apologize to the prisoners for not being able to do anything about it. Most are released, but many are tried for conspiracy because some of the anti-global warming activists refused to decry window smashing of banks that invest in the tar stands, and this refusal to condemn is interpreted as support for terrorism.

Now – either you’re totally fine with 3 and 4, or you don’t believe in universality. You think only you have a right to think your cause matters – and if other people think their cause matters, well, they won’t get any support from you. Not even support for their protection under the charter.

It’s pretty clear why you are so dismissive of the idea of democracy. You certainly don’t believe in Voltaire’s affirmation of free speech: “I hate what you are saying, but I would die for the right for you to say it.”

I think you would find yourself right at home in 1750’s France. You could be an Aristocrat at Versailles trying to convince the other Aristocrats to do something differently about the economy before things get really bad (as they did). You probably would have been dismissive of the power of “the ideas” that Rousseau was having – certainly ideas could never motivate a mass political movement.

Tristan July 14, 2010 at 1:38 pm

“But if media sources aspire to be agents of social change, they need to be more strategic about how they go about it. This is especially true for progressive media sources, which tend to be less disciplined and savvy than those that actively seek to perpetuate the status quo.”

I think openness and a plurality of perspectives is precisely the advantage of an alternative press. There are plenty of articles on the media co-op which I loathe. But, I’m glad they are there – because the representation of these differences allow anyone who wants to to work through them.

There is something essentially conservative about only representing a narrow set of stories which cohere with editorial interests. I think a left wing media is just as susceptible to “reproducing a status quo” as the mainstream media – I mean, look at the magazine “1917” – do they even write new articles or are they selling the same paper now that you could buy outside the SUB in 2001? I mean, don’t actually look at it, it’s awful. But if you were, you’d find exactly the kind of narrowness which the media co-ops (appear to) try to avoid.

Milan July 14, 2010 at 1:42 pm

The value of mass demonstrations is determined by the scale of concrete changes they produce.

The right to hold them has abstract value, but the concrete value that arises from them is the product of the change they generate.

Milan July 14, 2010 at 1:54 pm

If we had 500 years to solve the climate problem, it would be dramatically less worrisome. We could just wait for generation after generation with outdated ideas to die. Each new generation of scientists and policy-makers would be more likely to understand the scale of the problem, and the kind of mechanisms necessary to address it. Also, there would be plenty of time for those with entrenched interests in the status quo to very slowly shift themselves into less vulnerable positions.

As it happens, we basically need global emissions to peak immediately, and to fall to dramatically lower levels – maybe even zero – by 2050.

With this as our task, we need to move with urgency. We also need to avoid being distracted by less urgent and important issues including the conduct of police, aboriginal rights, international diplomacy, bilingualism, drug policy reform, international development, nuclear proliferation, etc, etc, etc.

Tristan July 14, 2010 at 1:55 pm

No popular movement produces change immediately. But the mere fact of “being involved”, and experiencing reality at a disconnect from the way reality is portrayed by the media – this is already a radicalizing experience. I think the mere attendance of people at these protests makes them more engaged, more critical, and more ready to “fight” for what they think is right.

You are right that the “concrete” value of a march arises from its effects. However, that concrete value never comes into being if the “abstract value” of the right to hold marches is taken away. And, if it can be taken away when the state doesn’t like the message of the march, why are you so sure that when the message you care about becomes the focus of demonstrations (and it already has), that the right won’t be taken away at that point?

The right to peacefully assemble is seriously under attack in Canada. The arrest of many peaceful protestors, and many civilians who were in the “wrong place at the wrong time” on Sunday is a targeted effort to encourage “responsible citizens” to stay home. The response to this is to participate in demonstrations demanding that civil liberties in Canada not become an empty promise. I’ve been to four marches since the G20 weekend protesting police brutality and demanding the charter rights be respected, and there is another one this Saturday, organized by CAPP (Canadians Against Proroguing parliament – yes, I think they should get a new name).

Tristan July 14, 2010 at 2:01 pm

” We also need to avoid being distracted by less urgent and important issues including the conduct of police, aboriginal rights, international diplomacy, bilingualism, drug policy reform, international development, nuclear proliferation, etc.”

Police – If you think the people of the world have no role in demanding that global warming be addressed, then you can coherently support (tacitly or not) police repression.

Aboriginal rights – If you think that current mega projects are not facilitated by the violation of aboriginal treaties, then you can ignore this.

International Diplomacy/Development/Nuclear proliferation – If you think US imperialism is not undermining world stability in ways that make climate mitigation more difficult, and if you think the brinksmanship being practiced by Obama and Netanyahu could not possibly bring about a war which will even further distract and delay dealing with the much more serious enemy (climate change), then you can ignore world politics.

Except, you can’t – because Global Warming is a world phenomenon. International co-operation is not optional, and in a world run by powerful elite interests, where anyone who does not agree with Washington is not part of “the World”, it seems unlikely that any sort of global climate agreement could possibly be reached.

Milan July 14, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Obviously, we cannot ignore other problems insofar as solving them is necessary for dealing with climate change.

What we can do, and arguably must given the urgency and seriousness of climate change, is pay less attention to problems that are of peripheral importance.

Milan July 14, 2010 at 2:07 pm

We are in a triage situtation, in which the most threatening problems need to be confronted with the most resources and energy.

By the same token, we don’t have time to waste on ineffective strategies.

Wherever protests involve violence, their effectiveness seems to fall sharply. As such, we are taken back to my original question: can violence be avoided and, if not, what should we use in place of big protests?

Tristan July 14, 2010 at 2:54 pm

I disagree that we are in a triage situation – triage assumes finite resources. In effect, we are in a situation of variable resources depending on what resources can be mobilized.

As for your “original question”, I already tried to answer it:

“…if you want to do something about the “black blockheads”, you have to join the activists who advocate non-violent resistance, but who do not completely disengage and alienate themselves from those activists who honestly believe their tactics are effective.”

Milan July 14, 2010 at 3:14 pm

We are in a situation of finite resources.

There are people who are happy to pursue their own interests and satisfy their own preferences, even when doing so produces unacceptable harm to others.

These people are economically and politically influential. Countering them takes effort and resources. They either need to be restricted so as to no longer be able to cause harm to others, or the structure of choices they face must be changed so that the option that aligns best with their interests and preferences is not one that generates such harm.

That issue of limited resources becomes especially acute when there is an urgent need to change something. We can only take on so many bad arguments, front organizations, and softly corrupted officials at once. At the same time, there are lots of people who are bound up in destructive systems, as the result of situations that aren’t really their fault. For example, truck drivers, coal miners, or farmers.

Changing those situations requires finding a politically acceptable mechanism for changing the situation in which those people find themselves.

. July 14, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Toronto Police unveil G20 ‘most wanted’

Charges of arson and mischief for one man in relation to burning a police cruiser and smashing store windows

Jill Mahoney

Globe and Mail Update Published on Wednesday, Jul. 14, 2010 1:15PM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, Jul. 14, 2010 3:20PM EDT

Toronto Police unveiled photographs of their 10 “most wanted” G20 protesters on Wednesday, saying they need the public’s help identifying suspects.

They also announced they have charged 25-year-old Ashran Ravindhraj with arson and two counts of mischief over $5,000 in relation to allegedly burning a police cruiser and smashing store windows.

The images, revealed to journalists at police headquarters, show 10 young men, some partially disguised.

“These are people who are wanted for criminal offences,” said Detective Sergeant Gary Giroux. “At this point we don’t know who they are.”

Police say they were using facial recognition software to compare the pictures against a photo database of more than 1,000 people who were arrested.

Tristan July 14, 2010 at 6:01 pm

It’s very frustrating arguing with you. If you believe people are neutral with respect to desire production and the concealing of genuine interests, and you think mobilization and radicalization is irrelevant, then maybe you could make the case that resources are finite.

In fact, the catastrophe that is upon us will either make the world much fairer, and much more democratic – or, much more authoritarian, and with much greater inequality between rich and poor (both in and between nations). This is an issue you can’t “not take sides” on. And, if you’re willing to support authoritarian reforms which will suppress dissent, and hope against hope that the business lobby will turn in favour of mitigation in time, I think your politics are awful.

. July 14, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Identifying G20 suspects using banks’ software a legal risk, police told

John Lorinc and Jill Mahoney

Toronto — From Thursday’s Globe and Mail Published on Wednesday, Jul. 14, 2010 1:15PM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, Jul. 14, 2010 10:46PM EDT

Civil liberties groups are condemning as a legal “black hole” the Toronto Police Service’s plan to use the banking industry’s facial recognition software to help identify people on a G20 “most wanted” list.

At a news conference Wednesday, Detective Sergeant Gary Giroux released the photos of 10 suspects and said the force intends to work with the Canadian Bankers Association, which owns the software. The investigation would involve scanning thousands of digital images taken during the summit weekend protests, and police expect to release more suspect photos in the weeks to come.

“The concern of Canadian Civil Liberties Association is the lack of experience of the judicial system with facial recognition software and the danger of many people being arrested based on a technology that has not been fully explored and tested in our legal system,” said CCLA general counsel Nathalie Des Rosiers.

The technology creates a kind of mathematical equation out of facial structures and searches databases for a match, according to Detective Sergeant Giroux. A CBA technician will work alongside the investigative team to run images of unidentified suspects through a police database of photographs of people arrested during the summit, as well as a larger database of known criminals. In addition, Montreal police have supplied a database of Black Bloc sympathizers.

Byron Smith July 15, 2010 at 6:39 am

It seems to me that the disruption already “in the pipeline” from unavoidable warming (not to mention deep difficulties in the supply of cheap energy and all the varieties of ecological degradation arriving at the same time as the credit bubble deflates (it hasn’t yet, despite 2008)), means that pursuing a strategy of single-minded focus on mitigating climate change is somewhat shortsighted. We need to *both* reduce further damage by working to reduce future emissions (blocking the construction of coal mines, shifting patterns and expectations of consumption and so on) *and* prepare for a more unstable economic and political future. By “more unstable”, I mean “very unstable”. Police brutality, corporate power, government accountability, nuclear proliferation, and a host of other issues *are* climate change issues not only in the senses that Tristan has listed above (i.e. as compounding, causing or distracting from emissions growth or reduction), but also in the sense that the things we fear about climate change are also exacerbated by or expressed as other political issues.

It is precisely the fact that climate change is not an isolated problem, but perhaps one of the most deeply systemic problems we’ve ever faced that political action on climate is so complex.

Milan July 15, 2010 at 9:42 am

That is a good point. We do need to increase the overall resilience of society, while also trying to achieve carbon neutrality.

That said, it still seems to me that the most promising way to drive climate change mitigation is in a pan-political or apolitical way: by working to make members of all political movements incorporate the facts into their thinking.

Byron Smith July 15, 2010 at 9:56 am

I agree that this can’t be a cause confined to one side of politics since any action needs to be sustained (or rather amplified) over decades.

What do you think of efforts to message climate action to conservatives through a focus on the national security implications of CC? (e.g. here).

Byron Smith July 15, 2010 at 10:06 am

Part 2 is here.

Byron Smith July 15, 2010 at 10:22 am

A shorter example with more money behind it is here.

Milan July 15, 2010 at 11:10 am

This came up before: The environment as a security matter.

In general, I would say that the security angle is potentially useful, in terms of making politicians and the general public take the problem seriously. At the same time, the kind of solutions advocated by security people may not be useful, and may be counterproductive. At the Oxford University Strategic Studies Group, I saw a presentation from a senior government official, arguing that due to expected instability from climate change, the UK needed to respond with an expanded arsenal of aircraft carriers and nuclear weapons – hardly the sort of investments likely to help.

Milan July 15, 2010 at 11:11 am
Tristan July 16, 2010 at 12:13 am

“We do need to increase the overall resilience of society, while also trying to achieve carbon neutrality.”

Is the system we currently have able to achieve the necessary resilience? What happens to political leaders who make the right decisions? Business leaders?

What role can people have in changing the conditions under which people succeed and fail, rather than waiting for a hero?

Tristan July 16, 2010 at 2:26 am

Milan’s refusal to write a non-black block specific post on the events of the G20 have led to this discussion getting all kinds of off track.

Bringing it back to protestors rights, and how the threat of property violence was used to ignore basic rights of privacy – if anyone cares about illegal searches, or police telling members of the public that they are “not in Canada anymore”, they could watch this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkkMAplfqt8&feature=player_embedded#!

Tristan July 16, 2010 at 2:33 am

This story about FBI infiltration into a group attending the 2008 RNC protests illustrates to what extent the system is willing to go to discredit protestors, and to put people in jail.

There is also radio expose on Darby which aired as an episode of “This American Life”, (#381 “Turncoat) (http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/381/Turncoat)

“What we do know is that in February 2008, Darby became involved with a group of activists, from Austin, planning to demonstrate at the R.N.C. That is where, according to court documents, he met David Guy McKay, 23, and Neal Crowder, 22. Crowder worked at a sandwich shop and McKay did graphic design at an ad agency. According to some at CG and other non-profits, there are video tapes of Darby attempting to incite questionable behavior at the upcoming convention.

Secretly wired, Darby recorded the Austin group making plastic shields out of stolen construction barrels, to defend themselves from police tear gas canisters and batons. They loaded the shields into a small U-Haul trailer along with helmets, sleeping bags and other road trip essentials. They then pulled the trailer with a van filled with eight local activists to the protests. Once in St. Paul, the trailer was illegally broken into by the police, without a search warrant, and seized.

That is when, according to Darby, Crowder and McKay became so enraged by the police misconduct that they went to a Wal-Mart and bought materials and assembled eight Molotov cocktails, using tampons as wicks. Darby claims they planned on bombing cop cars in revenge. However, Attorneys for Crowder and McKay say, “prosecutors have no direct evidence that Crowder and McKay bought the materials used to make Molotov cocktails, and they have little more than informants’ statements to go on.” An additional argument of entrapment is being made. McKay’s father has publicly stated his son was naive, gullible and easily impressionable. ”

http://www.broowaha.com/articles/4466/brandon-darby-hero-or-provocateur

Consequences of fear and unchecked state power July 16, 2010 at 2:36 am

“It certainly bears remembering that the state is a beast that walks with a heavy, and sometimes clumsy, step. That’s something that must be borne in mind especially when the population is especially afraid of a nebulous threat, such as sex criminals or terrorists. Failing to appreciate that the application of state power can cause profound harm, as well as protection, to human security is what produces injustices like torture, Guantanamo Bay, the internment of those of Japanese descent during the Second World War, and so forth. When people are afraid, they care little about the rights of those they fear; equally damagingly, they show little appreciation for how harsh new approaches undermine the very systems they are established with the intention of protecting. Set upon the wrong course, the state is a far more dangerous entity than any terrorist organization.”

Tristan July 16, 2010 at 2:53 am

A much more sensible kind of Direct Action:

Sit-in ends at Olympic athletes’ village
Thursday Jul. 15, 2010

“A group of four activists entered the condo late Thursday afternoon posing as potential buyers, but told the realtor showing them the property they planned on staying there for the next 11 hours.

Several hours later, the activists were escorted out by police, with a police spokesman saying they had left voluntarily and would not face charges.

The activists wanted to pressure the city to restore its promises to set aside many of the units in the development for social housing. Currently, about 125 of 1,100 units will be set aside for low-income residents, which is far less than what the city had originally promised.”

“I’m sure this will be part of making the issue public, which is one of our aims. This is our initial action in a series of actions.”

http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20100715/bc_village_sit-in_100715/20100715?hub=BritishColumbiaHome

Tristan July 16, 2010 at 2:58 am

This one is just for fun –

“Can Scary Cop Lady get more fans than Stephen Harper?”

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Can-Scary-Cop-Lady-get-more-fans-than-Stephen-Harper/110135645704755?v=wall

. July 16, 2010 at 3:44 am

Hepburn: Why is Harper escaping G20 aftermath scot-free?
Thu Jul 15 2010
http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/836033–hepburn-why-is-harper-escaping-g20-aftermath-scot-free

“Despite his silence, Harper has much to answer for about the G20 in Toronto and the G8 held a day earlier in Huntsville — from why the summit was held in downtown Toronto to the staggering $1.2 billion cost to questionable federal spending in the Muskoka area.

Such questions deserve a full airing by Harper.

Inquiries are rightly being held into police actions that resulted in some 1,000 people arrested during the two-day summit in what many contend was an unprecedented and excessive manner.

The Toronto Police Services Board and the RCMP will both look into how police performed during the summit.

Meanwhile, Ontario Ombudsman André Marin will investigate the Ontario government’s use of the Public Works Protection Act, which at first was described as giving police the power to detain and arrest anyone within five metres of the security fence surrounding the summit’s no-go zone.

But a separate inquiry is needed into the overall planning and handling of the G20 by Harper and his government.

Except for a few tourism officials thrilled with the thought of packed hotel rooms, everyone knew that sticking the summit in the middle of our largest city was a bad idea.”

Tristan July 18, 2010 at 3:54 pm

This video which shows the events of the jail solidarity protest on july 27th is worth watching. Of course, if you think the arrest of peaceful demonstrators and police brutality are “side issues”, feel free to ignore it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiLt40d_AbU&feature=related

Tristan July 18, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Or, if you want direct evidence of the cops failing to engage the block, look no further:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5r0gn3IZYa8&feature=related

Tristan July 18, 2010 at 4:12 pm

This guy is pissed that the cops at Queen and Spadina doing nothing to put out the car fires

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l113lv0hxnw

This is the same situation that I filmed, I think earlier:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVvSPTuUTjQ

Byron Smith July 20, 2010 at 11:43 am

Another Vote Vets ad linking climate action to national security.

Anon July 21, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Why did we need a billion dollars worth of security in Toronto? To try to thwart the wicked plans of 21-year-old Kelly Rose Pflug-Back – ‘prime suspect’ in the G20 damage.

Tristan July 22, 2010 at 12:18 am

9 activists were arrested today during a non-violent direct action opposing the abolition of the special diet allowance in the Ontario welfare system.

http://www.torontosun.com/news/torontoandgta/2010/07/21/14783981.html

. July 22, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Accused G20 ringleader makes court appearance

ctvtoronto.ca

The fiance of a Guelph woman facing charges of vandalism carried out during the G20 Summit riots has lambasted the police for demonizing her.

Kelly Rose Pflug-Back, 21, surrendered to police on Wednesday.

“For the police to go on the air and accuse her of all sorts of malicious things outside of a courtroom is interfering with her right to a fair trial,” her fiance Julian Ichim told CTV Toronto on Thursday.

The Toronto Police Service’s G20 investigative team issued a news release Wednesday saying Pflug-Back was wanted for six counts of mischief over $5,000.

The allegations involve the burning of at least five police cars and the smashing of business storefront windows.

G20 sexual abuse claims linked to Jane Doe report

Henry Stancu Staff Reporter

Allegations of abuse by women detained during the G20 summit are included in an alternative report presented Thursday into how Toronto police investigate sexual violence against women.

“The word of the police is not reliable,” said the activist known as Jane Doe at a news conference Thursday to detail those allegations. Women “hesitate to come forward because of fear of violence.”

Doe, the pseudonym of a woman who successfully sued police in 1986 after she was raped, women’s studies professor Beverly Bain, and Toronto Rape Crisis Centre counsellor Grissel Orellana were to present their own report to Toronto Police Services this afternoon as a counterpoint to the auditor-general’s report on how police handle sexual assault cases.

Toronto police “are unfit to conduct a review against themselves. They are not equipped to investigate themselves,” said Farrah Miranda, a spokeswoman for the activist group Toronto Community Mobilization Network that organized the news conference.

“Women’s groups are connecting the G20 violence against women with the ongoing police violence against women,” she said.

Allegations of sexual abuse first surfaced as women were being released from the Eastern Ave. detention centre during the June 26-27 weekend that brought world leaders and thousands of demonstrators to Toronto.

. July 22, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Ontario watchdog launching new review of police action during G20 summit

Anna Mehler Paperny

Globe and Mail Update Published on Thursday, Jul. 22, 2010 5:36PM EDT Last updated on Thursday, Jul. 22, 2010 5:37PM EDT

Ontario’s independent police watchdog is reviewing police action during the G20 summit in Toronto.

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director, created last fall to investigate complaints surrounding police conduct, announced Thursday afternoon it is conducting a review “of a systemic nature” into numerous allegations of police misconduct. The number of complaints registered with the arm’s-length body of the Ontario government doubled in the week following the summit.

“The review will investigate common issues arising from complaints against police during the G20 summit,” director Gerry McNeilly said in a statement. “I can ensure that these issues are investigated thoroughly and in a way that is accountable, transparent, efficient and fair to both the public and the police.”

The “systemic issues” under investigation include allegations of unlawful searches, unlawful arrests, improper detention and issues related to the Eastern Avenue film studio used as a detention centre during the G20 weekend. More than 1,000 people were arrested over the course of several days. Of those, more than 700 were charged with breach of peace and released, and about 100 were never charged with anything.

. July 23, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Protesting the G20: A Waste of Time?
by Brigette DePape
July 20, 2010

http://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/commentary/protesting-g20-waste-time

“During the G20 ministerial meetings in Toronto, the sensational images of burning police cruiser cars and broken shop windows dominated the newspaper headlines. This is what the world saw.

What I saw in Toronto was radically different.

On June 21st, I travelled to Toronto in a van filled with activists and journalists from around the county to participate in protests at the G20 meetings. Using brightly colored rainbow paint, we displayed our concerns with the G20 agenda on the doors and bumpers of our caravan. From “shut down the tar sands” to “sign the UN convention on the right to water”, our messages expressed our beliefs that issues central to our vision of a more just and sustainable world are being ignored by the leaders of the G20.

Building on protests at the 1999 World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference, the protests in Toronto were part of a much larger effort to question the inequality of the status quo. A network of civil society groups known as the anti-globalization or alter-globalization movement, hold values rooted in anti-corporate and anti-colonial struggle. Public protest is just one way the movement aims to affect change. Groups also meet annually at the World Social Forum to share ideas and build alternatives.

Toronto was an excellent networking and educational opportunity. I had the chance to connect with community activists from across the country who are concerned about poverty and homelessness amidst the wealth in their communities—issues similar to those that we are experiencing in Winnipeg. I was also able to expand my knowledge on issues unique to other communities that have a global impact, such as the Tar Sands in Fort McMurray Alberta.

Seeing the images of broken windows and flaming cars constantly repeated by the media was demoralizing because it was a distraction from the serious issues to which peaceful protestors were trying to draw attention. What made Toronto truly important and memorable were educational forums and lectures by well-known activists like Naomi Klein and Maude Barlow and creative and peaceful demonstrations. However these aspects of the Toronto protests and the valid reasons that brought thousands of people together to protest were virtually ignored by the media.

At the height of Saturday’s protests, I saw twenty five thousand Canadians exercising their political agency in a way I have never before seen. It was truly inspiring and it brought me hope to know that so many people care about these issues and are doing something about it.

Returning to Winnipeg meant coming back to everyday reality. My Dad told me that protesting at the G20 was unproductive and ineffective. I was crushed. Suddenly, riding in my parents’ car, I felt powerless. He was not the only one sending this message to his children. Many of my friends received similar text messages from their parents as well. In Toronto, discussing alternatives in the caravan with other activists, and holding my sign proudly on the streets of Toronto, I felt like we were changing things. But at home I began to question whether or not we were making any difference at all. Perhaps we just had the illusion of change because we were surrounded by like-minded people. When my Dad asked me “what did the protests change?” I didn’t have an answer. They certainly did not change the G20 agenda.

But my question for him and his generation is: what will change things, then? If protesting is meaningless, as he suggests, what can we do to create a more just society?

Surely my parents and others are concerned about the same issues we are. But what are they doing about it? Too often they don’t challenge them directly and they don’t encourage their kids to do so either. My dad reminds me that some choose to work quietly at incremental change rather than taking to the streets. But has that worked?

Would it be better if people did not protest at all? What if we all stayed in our comfortable homes, transfixed to our big screen TVs, ignoring the reality around us? Should we really just accept the status quo that makes the poor, poorer and allows the environmental destruction that is ruining our planet? Where are all the people who protested in the 60’s and 70’s that inspired many of today’s activists? Have they given up on fighting for their ideals? I fear that too many people from my parents’ generation have abandoned their ideals because they think eliminating poverty or weaning ourselves off our oil addiction just isn’t ‘realistic’.

Not only is protesting important, it is our fundamental right. Many of my friends were denied this right when the police unlawfully detained them in appalling conditions for protesting peacefully, more specifically, for holding hands in a semi-circle. In order to preserve our right and ensure this does not happen again, a public inquiry into police conduct and detainee conditions is absolutely essential.

I don’t agree with my dad and others that say our efforts were a waste of time. Protesting the G20 gave activists from across the country the opportunity to learn and network, as well as express and raise awareness about their discontent for current systems and policies. Protesting was undoubtedly better than doing nothing at all, and incremental changes alone are not making the impact necessary. Were past protests for civil rights, women’s rights and worker’s rights a waste of time? Just a hundred years ago the women’s right to vote did not seem realistic either. But like speaking out against the tar sands, fighting for the right to water, and calling for an end to poverty, it was necessary. Protesting made it a reality.

Brigette DePape is a summer intern at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Manitoba and is completing a degree in international development at the University of Ottawa.”

. July 23, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Charter rights ruling raises implications for G20 complaints

Caroline Alphonso

Toronto — Globe and Mail Update Published on Friday, Jul. 23, 2010 10:15AM EDT Last updated on Friday, Jul. 23, 2010 2:27PM EDT

Individuals are entitled to compensation if their charter rights are violated even if authorities act in good faith, the Supreme Court of Canada said in a ruling Friday that has widespread implications.

The court upheld $5,000 in damages awarded to Alan Cameron Ward, a veteran Vancouver lawyer who was detained by police in 2002 on suspicion that he intended to toss a pie at then-prime minister Jean Chrétien.

“I’m relieved and pleased. It’s been a long eight years,” Mr. Cameron said Monday after the ruling. “It clarifies that Charter rights are important and the violation of them may attract monetary compensation in suitable cases.”

In its ruling, the court is clear that trivial Charter violations should not entitle a claimant to damages.

“ I conclude that damages may be awarded for charter breach … where appropriate and just,” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote in her ruling.

“The first step in the inquiry is to establish that a Charter right has been breached. The second step is to show why damages are a just and appropriate remedy, having regard to whether they would fulfill one or more of the related functions of compensation, vindication of the right, and/or deterrence of future breaches.

“At the third step, the state has the opportunity to demonstrate, if it can, that countervailing factors defeat the functional considerations that support a damage award and render damages inappropriate or unjust. The final step is to assess the quantum of the damages.”

. July 27, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Small economies are vulnerable because they are over-dependant on external factors, pointed out the Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations Kamalesh Sharma.

Help poor nations or step off leader’s podium – Commonwealth of Nations

Russia Today

Published 01 July, 2010, 11:48

http://rt.com/Politics/2010-07-01/commonwealth-nations-g20-sharma.html

“The inability to generate national wealth in substantial forms internally makes this dependency financially unbeatable,” explained Sharma.

That is why the G8 and G20 leaders should drop their pretensions to world economic leadership if they are not willing to help poor countries, said the Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations during the recent G20 summit in Toronto.

. July 27, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Diversity Of Tactics: The Noise Before Defeat
By Mike Kaulbars

For the reasons given by me and others it is necessary that the progressive movement distance itself from the violent Black Bloc faction which is coopting the movement. Even Jon Stewart (in Canada here) notes that “they’re violent, disruptive, and draw a lot of media attention, but to what?” However, noting that the Bloc co-opts the movement and drowns out our message is misunderstood as blaming the Bloc for the collective failure to achieve our goals at the G20 summit.

It is not a given that had the Bloc not been there that we would have achieved our goals or gotten our message out. It is true that we could not have done worse. The violence continues to dominate the discussions of the G20 summit with no mention of the issues that were allegedly our reason for being there. While it is clear that there were police overreaction and abuses, this is not an argument for having this sort of mess distract everyone from our real purpose.

Simply keeping the Bloc away from movement events would solve only one aspect of the problem, and a fairly superficial one at that. There are reasons why the Bloc exists at all, and those are rooted in the mainstream progressive movement as much as anywhere else.

. July 28, 2010 at 4:39 am

Panama: General Strike Rejects Killings, Anti-Labor Laws
By Frederico Fuentes

Source: GLWTuesday, July 27, 2010

http://www.zcommunications.org/panama-general-strike-rejects-killings-anti-labor-laws-by-frederico-fuentes

“A protest against anti-worker Law 30, Panama 2010. The law includes dramatic restrictions on the right to strike and immunity for the police to use force against strikers. When right-wing billionaire Ricardo Martinelli was elected Panama’s president in May 2009, political commentators heralded it as a sign that Latin Americans were becoming disillusioned with the “pink tide” of progressive and leftist governments.

But one year later, the Martinelli government is facing a wave of resistance to its anti-labour and anti-union laws. Resistance has grown in the face of deadly repression.

With 60% of Panamanians saying they would not vote again for Martinelli, about the same percentage that voted for him, a La Prensa editorial, published same day as the July 13 general strike, warned the government it was “playing with fire and now facing the consequences”.

The trigger for the recent protests was the June 12 approval by the National Assembly, behind closed doors and under heavy police protection, of the anti-worker Law 30.

Handed down by the executive, Law 30 is commonly referred to as the “sausage law”. It is ostensibly a law to reform the civil aviation sector, but is packed full of anti-union provisions implying big changes to the labour law and penal code.

This includes dramatic restrictions on the right to strike, provision of payments for strike-breakers and the ability to fire striking workers, the elimination of obligatory payment of union dues, and immunity for the police to use force against strikers.

Another recent law penalises workers that take part in street protests with possible 2-5 year prison terms.

These new laws have given bosses a green light to drive down wages and conditions.”

Tristan July 28, 2010 at 5:29 am

If this isn’t straight up a strong indication of criminal political-police corruption, then I don’t know what people would require to see that a public inquiry is not optional.

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontog20summit/article/840529–documents-show-cabinet-spent-little-time-on-secret-g20-change?bn=1

“Perhaps the most notorious item of business was cabinet’s designation of areas within the G20 security zone around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre as a “public work” under the 1939 Public Works Protection Act.

Ministers made the temporary change at the request of Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who sought clarification for officers if they had to stop anyone inside the restricted area where world leaders were meeting June 26-27.

The Star first revealed the unusual modification on June 25, three days before it was to have been officially revoked and eight days before it was published in the Ontario Gazette.

In the wake of that story, there was an erroneous impression that police had been given the power to arrest people who refused to provide identification or submit to a search within five metres of the zone’s outer perimeter.

But Blair, McGuinty and Community Safety Minister Rick Bartolucci, who defended the “extraordinary” powers throughout the G20, did not set the record straight until two days after the summit had ended.

In his most recent public statement, the premier, who returned to work Monday after two weeks’ vacation, conceded his government fuelled the ambiguity.

“There was some confusion obviously surrounding ‘five metres.’ There was no five-metre rule. It was constantly published in print and republished on TV and radio and there was no foundation in fact for that,” McGuinty said July 7.

“And we should have acted on that sooner to make it clear.”

While only 116 orders in council were released Monday, gaps in the numbering of the documents indicates dozens more were signed at the meeting. Government officials could not explain the discrepancy.

Ironically, “Ontario Regulation 233/10 made under the Public Works Protection Act” was not among the 116 documents put out by Cabinet Office, the provincial government’s executive branch.

That’s because once the regulation was signed by Lieutenant-Governor David Onley, a certified copy was given to the ministry of community safety, which then filed it to the ministry of the attorney general’s registrar of regulations.

The attorney general’s department electronically posted it June 16 to e-Laws, a specialized provincial legislation website usually pored over only by lawyers.

Aside from Marin’s G20 review, the Toronto Police Services Board is conducting a civilian examination of police governance and policy due to the mass arrests and rioting in downtown Toronto during the summit.

Both McGuinty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have ruled out holding public inquiries into the imbroglio.”

. September 3, 2010 at 9:37 am

Police made mistakes in G20 tactics, chief admits for first time

Acknowledgment comes on heels of raft of complaints, lawsuits, inquiries into police actions during June weekend

Kate Allen

From Friday’s Globe and Mail Published on Friday, Sep. 03, 2010 6:00AM EDT Last updated on Friday, Sep. 03, 2010 8:45AM EDT

The corralling of 250 people at Queen and Spadina Streets for hours in torrential rain at the end of Toronto’s G20 summit remains a flashpoint in a weekend that saw the largest mass arrests in Canadian history.

In the face of an onslaught of complaints, lawsuits and inquiries, Toronto police Chief Bill Blair on Thursday acknowledged for the first time that he made mistakes that night.

“We probably could have and should have reacted quicker,” Chief Blair told The Globe and Mail. “When I became aware of [the ongoing containment], I said, ‘That’s it, release them all immediately and unconditionally,’ and that was done. But it probably could have happened sooner.”

The admission is a new tack for Toronto police. In a news conference soon after the release of the corral, Staff Superintendent Jeff McGuire said of the detainees, “To those people, I cannot apologize to them, and I won’t.” He called the situation “unfortunate,” but said officers had the right to detain the group.

. September 8, 2010 at 4:34 pm

“Nobody can predict which one event will trigger social change. Paul Revere was not the only rider to warn of the British advance, and many people refused to move to the back of the bus before Rosa Parks. But we do know two things. First, that we must act with unity, and second, many minds working together are likely to be smarter. So we’re asking for your help. As you go about your other work on behalf of the planet and its diverse communities, think about the possibilities for direct action, and write them down and send them to us. Here are a few thoughts to guide you.

* Our actions must be infused with the spirit of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and other peaceful protesters before us. No violence, no property damage.

* We need large actions, with many members of the general public. Think hundreds and thousands. So don’t concentrate on the kind of tactics that only a few hardy specialists can carry out; we’re not going to have hundreds of people rappelling or scuba diving.

* We don’t think for a minute that we can actually physically shut down the fossil-fuel economy for any meaningful period; it’s too big. We need to aim for effective symbolic targets — say, dirty, old coal-fired power plants — and use them to make clear the need and opportunity to cut carbon fast.

* Our actions must be rooted in the communities where they are held and be organized hand in hand with local groups and activists.

* Our tactics need to engage onlookers, not alienate them. We have to have effective ways of keeping provocateurs and incendiaries at a distance, and attracting the kind of people who actually influence the rest of the public. Discipline will matter.

* We need to be transparent and open in our planning, not reliant on secrecy. We’ll need to do our work certain that law enforcement is looking over our shoulders; our method can’t be surprise.

* Beauty counts. We’re fighting for the beauty in the world that’s being stolen by our adversaries, and at the same time we’re aiming for hearts and minds.

* We don’t have unlimited resources. The cost and complexity of these kinds of actions can mount quickly. As with all things environmental, frugality and simplicity are virtues.”

Tristan September 8, 2010 at 10:53 pm

” Our actions must be infused with the spirit of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and other peaceful protesters before us. No violence, no property damage.”

To speak most truthfully, we should not say “in order to be effective we should refrain from violence”. Although that is correct, it mistakes “violence” to be only the violations of social norms which the status quo names as violent. Violent comes from “violation” – and violate is exactly what needs to be done to the current unsustainable order of things. It is therefore more correct to say “in order to be maximally violent against the state of things, we should refrain from superficially violent outbursts”. Protest that challenges the status quo is an attempt to violate the status quo, and this much more violent than murder or property destruction because it, if effective, can not merely be swallowed up as part of the normal order of things.

The problem with the bloc, in the end, is that they are not nearly violent enough.

. September 22, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Province to probe ‘secret law,’ G20 police powers

Anna Mehler Paperny and Karen Howlett

Globe and Mail Update Published on Wednesday, Sep. 22, 2010 10:05AM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, Sep. 22, 2010 1:50PM EDT

A former Ontario chief justice will investigate the controversial law the province amended before the G20 – one whose amendment wasn’t publicized and which police led the public to believe gave them extra powers to enforce security around the summit’s perimeter in downtown Toronto.

Roy McMurtry will lead an independent review of the Public Works Protection Act, a Second World War-era piece of legislation Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government amended in the weeks prior to the G20 summit, reportedly at the request of the Integrated Security Unit in charge of maintaining safety over the weekend.

The review will look at “the scope of authority given to police” under the act, what exactly a “public work is,” how best to notify the public about regulations made under the act and how it can be applied to “large-scale events such as national or international conferences, sporting events and public demonstrations,” according to a statement from the province.

However, Community Safety Minister Jim Bradley stressed that the scope of Mr. McMurtry’s review will be very narrow. Mr. McMurtry, a former attorney-general of Ontario, will not make an assessment of what happened in the days leading up to the G20, Mr. Bradley told reporters on Wednesday. Rather, he said, Mr. McMurtry will provide advice to the government on how to communicate regulations under the existing legislation to the public.

. September 27, 2010 at 11:43 am

“Boycotts and sit-ins and nonviolent confrontations—which were the weapons of choice for the civil-rights movement—are high-risk strategies. They leave little room for conflict and error. The moment even one protester deviates from the script and responds to provocation, the moral legitimacy of the entire protest is compromised. Enthusiasts for social media would no doubt have us believe that King’s task in Birmingham would have been made infinitely easier had he been able to communicate with his followers through Facebook, and contented himself with tweets from a Birmingham jail. But networks are messy: think of the ceaseless pattern of correction and revision, amendment and debate, that characterizes Wikipedia. If Martin Luther King, Jr., had tried to do a wiki-boycott in Montgomery, he would have been steamrollered by the white power structure. And of what use would a digital communication tool be in a town where ninety-eight per cent of the black community could be reached every Sunday morning at church? The things that King needed in Birmingham—discipline and strategy—were things that online social media cannot provide. “

Milan October 1, 2010 at 11:25 am

This incident in Germany demonstrates some of the dangers associated with the increasing militarization of police, especially when it comes to their interaction with peaceful protestors: Germany Shocked by ‘Disproportionate’ Police Action in Stuttgart

Tristan October 2, 2010 at 1:22 am

Good thing no one was shot at point blank with tear gas canisters at the G20 protests.

Oh wait…

Well, at least here – I bet if they had shot out a protestors eye the government would have covered the medical bills.

. October 6, 2010 at 10:41 am

The PR on the G20
Scott H. Payne
October 5, 2010

Via the CBC, I see that, “lawyers, civil libertarians and politicians,” are re-demanding a full public inquiry into the events surrounding the G20 summit. Ontario NDP leader Andrea Howarth is even proposing to introduce a bill to, “examine all aspects of government and law enforcement decision-making related to the June summit,” and the public is “urged” to “support the bill”.

This all strikes me as a good idea, but I’m skeptical that it will get very far or have a whole lot of traction, at least with the public writ large. Remember that polling closer to the actual event had a pretty solid majority of Canadians believing that the police reaction was justified. And when the polling narrowed in on Torontonians, that majority became even stronger.

. October 18, 2010 at 8:37 am

G20 protests: Gag order goes too far

As an alleged ringleader of the Group of 20 protests that rocked Toronto in June, leaving police cars torched and shops vandalized, Alex Hundert faces three charges of conspiracy. He’s out on $100,000 bail, can’t be alone with his partner Leah Henderson, and can’t take part in public demonstrations.

But his latest bail conditions, at least as interpreted by Justice of the Peace Inderpaul Chandhoke, go too far. Following a Sept. 17 run-in with police when he took part in a Ryerson University panel discussion, Hundert is now barred from planning, taking part in or even attending any public event that expresses views on a political issue. And Chandhoke says that ban extends even to restricting Hundert from speaking to the media.

Alan Young, a Toronto law professor, rightly calls the sweeping gag order “astonishing” and a “severe deprivation of rights,” given that it’s not clear that it is needed to ensure public order.

Sadly, this fits a pattern of official excess that marred the summit. Excessive costs, security, arrests and charges. Now this.

Bail terms that require Hundert to keep the peace are one thing. Using the threat of jail to muzzle political dissidents is quite another. It isn’t the Canadian way. He should be free to speak his mind.

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/876266–g20-protests-gag-order-goes-too-far

. October 18, 2010 at 8:38 am

ALEX HUNDERT THREATED WITH SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, DENIED ACCESS TO LAWYER, FORCED TO CONSENT TO EGREGIOUS BAIL CONDITIONS

“Thursday October 14, Toronto, Mississauga New Credit – Less than 24 hours after refusing to sign outrageous bail conditions which included not expressing political views in public and non-associations intended to further isolate him, Alex Hundert was forced to consent to his release.
On the night of Wednesday October 14th, Alex was told by the security manager at the Toronto East Detention Centre that he had to sign the bail conditions or face solitary confinement in “the hole”, without access to phone calls or writing paper. He was put in solitary confinement after an initial confrontation with correction staff where he resisted initial attempts to make him sign. He was denied the right to call his lawyer, and told that if he didn’t sign now, they would revoke the bail offer and he would be held in solitary confinement until his eventual release from prison.

Coerced into signing these conditions, Alex was thrown out of Toronto East and left to find his own way home to his sureties’ house. The prison authorities forced him into a position where he could potentially be accused of further breaching his bail. Alex is now back on house arrest with an enforced curfew, with non-associations with co-accused and members of SOAR, AWOL, NOII and other community organizers. He also has the additionally imposed restrictions of no direct or indirect posting to the internet, no assisting, planning, or attending any public meeting or march, and no expressing of views on a political issues.

Over the past week, Alex has experienced a particularly malicious targeting. Last week, the criminal injustice system made the ludicrous finding that Alex had breached his previous ‘no-demonstration’ bail condition by speaking on a panel because he was supposedly engaging in the same kind of “behaviour that he exhibited in meetings leading up to the G20.” Then, he was forced to take a stand to go back to jail by refusing to sign fundamentally unjust and repressive bail conditions. And now, his right to refuse to accept such a blatant violation of his freedom to express political views and his freedom to associate has been further attacked through coercive and punitive attempts to force his own release.

In a previously published media statement, Alex has stated “They are targeting me because I am part of communities that are effectively organizing across movements. Whether it is the criminalization of anarchists and community organizers like me, or the daily demonization of Indigenous peoples, poor people and migrant communities, we have to show them that our resolve and our solidarity can be stronger than their intimidation and repression.”

Alex’s family, friends and allies are outraged and upset by the harassment and coercion Alex faced after refusing to set a dangerous precedent for our broader movements by choosing not to consent to egregious bail conditions. Outrage has been building across the country as the implications of politically-motivated G20 conspiracy charges become clear. The Crown, the prison, the police and the corporate and colonial interests they represent are clearly afraid of what we think and say, not only what we do.

Rallies in Kitchener-Waterloo, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Toronto on Tuesday echoed with chants of “this is what a demonstration looks like” (See video from Toronto: http://bit.ly/dzI9M0). We continue to strengthen our resolve, and will fight these trumped-up charges until the end. One hundred conspiracy charges were dropped today against Montreal organizers arrested at gunpoint during a morning raid at the University of Toronto on June 27th. We cannot be silenced or intimidated, our resistance will only increase as we keep organizing for liberation for all people, especially those who daily bear the brunt of police, state, and corporate oppression.

Please stay posted for further updates.

For more information contact Jonah Hundert at jonah.hundert@gmail.com.”

http://g20.torontomobilize.org/node/571

. October 18, 2010 at 9:42 am

A summit with Seoul: Korea learns from Toronto’s G20 mistakes

South Korea is promising a cheaper and more beautiful G20 after watching the uproar over Toronto’s imposing grey security fence and a final summits tab that ballooned past $1-billion.

Like Toronto, a security perimeter will keep protesters far away from the urban convention centre that will host the summit’s main events – but the wall in Seoul will be brightly decorated with colourful pictures.

As for the security costs, there will be no high-end hotel snacks or luxury linens for South Korean police officers. That’s a key reason why South Korea says its budget will be “far below” what Toronto spent on back-to-back G7 and G20 summits earlier this year.

This boast comes even though the country shares a peninsula with North Korea – an unpredictable and sometimes hostile dictatorship that was once dubbed a member of the “axis of evil.”

. October 19, 2010 at 4:16 pm

“‘Officer Bubbles’ — the Toronto Police Constable who was videotaped threatening a G20 protester with arrest for assault over the crime of blowing bubbles at a police officer has had enough of mocking videos and comments on YouTube. He has decided to sue everyone involved (commenters included) for more than a million dollars each. The complaint is detailed in his statement of claim — most of the comments seem fairly tame by internet standards; if this goes anywhere, everyone is going to have to watch what they say pretty carefully. The lawsuit appears to have been successful in intimidating the author of the mocking cartoons into taking them down.”

Milan October 19, 2010 at 4:19 pm

That is one of the silliest things I have seen in a while: do something stupid, get videotaped doing it, get mocked on the basis of the video, and then respond to the situation by doing another stupid thing (for which you will surely be mocked).

It’s pretty funny to see a Statement of Claim involving “John Doe No. 6 a.k.a. crazymonkey883”.

. October 19, 2010 at 4:25 pm

In the meantime, by filing this lawsuit, about the only thing that Office Bubbles [Adam Josephs] has done is call a lot more attention to his initial actions and reinforce the idea that he seems to totally overreact to rather benign situations. But, I guess, if you’re going to arrest a girl for blowing bubbles in your direction, suing YouTube (for being a 3rd party platform) and suing people for mocking comments that no one actually believes probably seems to be equally intelligent.

. October 21, 2010 at 11:27 am

Toronto lawyer David Shiller has offered to defend the YouTube users named in the suit, and said he has already had some inquiries. He argues that many of the comments are not defamatory, and the videos themselves are simply satire.

They are all, in my view, citizens commenting through art on the police conduct during the G20,” he said.

Constable Josephs, a 20-year-veteran of the Toronto force, was nicknamed “Officer Bubbles” online after a video of him threatening to arrest a protester at the G20 summit for blowing bubbles near him went viral. The first video spawned the cartoons, which depict a muscle-bound likeness of Constable Josephs in various G20-related scenarios.

. November 4, 2010 at 10:06 am

Officers face discipline for removing name tags during G20

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair says about 90 officers will face disciplinary action after they removed their name tags while patrolling the city during the G20.

The chief gave the news while testifying before the House of Commons public safety committee on Wednesday in Ottawa, where he was grilled by members of parliament over police actions during the June summit.

“I have a rule in the Toronto Police Service, it’s my rule, it’s in accordance with the policy of my police services board, that our officers will wear their names displayed on their uniforms,” Chief Blair told the committee.

“If an individual officer chose not to wear it, he is breaking a rule.”

Tristan November 4, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I wonder if officer #9511 will be docked.

. November 8, 2010 at 4:17 pm

A look inside the G20 ‘kettle’ at Queen and Spadina

KATE ALLEN
From Saturday’s Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Nov. 05, 2010 6:03PM EDT
Last updated Monday, Nov. 08, 2010 11:39AM EST

Seeing crowds blocking her way north on Spadina, she decided to make her way over to the next street to the west, but the bike cops told her to turn around. Which she did, only to find a solid wall of riot police had sprung up behind her.

“I was basically in a box,” she recalls. “Coming from ex-Yugoslavia, I realized this was not good.”

Ms. Martinovic and those around her were being subjected to “kettling,” a controversial crowd-control tactic that has been used to neutralize mass demonstrations around the world. It was employed in Toronto even though encircling and containing large groups had been declared illegal and sparked multimillion-dollar class-action awards in other countries – a year earlier, a man had died after being shoved to the ground when protesters were cordoned off during a G20 gathering in London.

Someone told her it would be wise to sit down, so she did. “My parents brought me here to be safe,” she says. “The last thing that I wanted to do was get involved in a conflict with police.”

A little to the north, Mr. Stayshyn was thinking of heading home, a just a few blocks away, when he noticed all the alleys had been blocked by officers in riot gear. “Something felt really wrong,” he recalls.

Ms. Copeland and her boyfriend had just decided to leave when they saw a line of police advancing south toward them. Panicking, they ran east but hit the riot squad that Ms. Martinovic had encountered. Ms. Copeland searched for shelter – in the entrance to a bar, behind a hot-dog stand, then an ice-cream truck – hoping the police would pass by, but each time was herded back to the street.

The south, east and west sides of the intersection were blocked, and a wall of police was marching from the north, a unit recruited for the weekend from the London Police Service. Clad in black body suits and helmets with visors, they raised their batons and full-length shields and forced their way through the crowd, turning one “kettle” into two. About 250 people were trapped between the London police and those marching from the north, while a much smaller group of 30 or so was contained by the original riot lines.

. November 13, 2010 at 11:05 am

Porter: Tales of horror from a police state — ours

By Catherine Porter

http://www.thestar.com/news/article/890181–porter-tales-of-horror-from-a-police-state-ours

“I sat in a plain, ordinary downtown hotel seminar room for two days this week, listening, one after another, to utterly jarring stories of police sadism at the G20.

Tales of women forced to pee through their jeans. Naked students ordered to lift their testicles for inspection. A woman snatched from a downtown corner and dropped off near midnight in the shadows of Scarborough, no directions or hope of finding her way home.

The hearings by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and National Union of Public and General Employees were focused on the summit this past summer in Toronto. But it often felt like a history lesson on 1935 Germany.

John Pruyn hobbled to the front of the room, leaning on a metal ski pole. The 57-year-old Christmas tree farmer and Canada Revenue Agency worker had his left leg ripped off in a gruesome accident 17 years ago. He now walks with a metal prosthetic.

He was sitting with his 24-year-old daughter in the designated “free speech” zone at Queen’s Park during the protest on Saturday, June 26, when riot police jumped him, he told the room. They knocked off his glasses, handcuffed him and told him to stand. He couldn’t. One officer ripped off his prosthetic leg, he said. “He tells me to put it back on. Of course, I can’t put my leg back on with my hands behind my back.”

“Then he says ‘hop.’”

Pruyn spent 27 hours in the Eastern Avenue flashy-film-studio-turned-squalid detention centre before police let him go, without his walking sticks or glasses. His charges had been “lost,” he said.

“These weren’t thugs being arrested,” Pruyn told the room, his voice breaking. “Just people who wanted to get a message out.”

The thugs, we all now know, were the men and women dressed in black who ransacked Yonge Street on Saturday afternoon, unimpeded by the city’s 5,400 armed-to-the-teeth police officers. We all had been warned for weeks that “violent anarchists” were coming. That’s why we needed the $5-million fence, we were told, the eardrum-splitting sound gun normally reserved for Somali pirates, the secret five-metre search and question law that turned out to apply to not just five metres.

There was no violence, but lots of vandalism, and that is why the once-immobile police sprung into action, we were told, treating protesters like rapists — beating them, tying them up, denying them water in a cold cell.

Except, the police activity wasn’t a reaction, if you believe Sean Salvati’s story.

Salvati was the 10th person to slip behind the skirted table Thursday afternoon. He looked like a guy’s guy — jeans, long-sleeve T-shirt, short brown hair. He’s 32 and works as a paralegal.

He went to a Blue Jays game with four buddies three nights before the G20 summit. On his way out, he passed two police officers. He wished them good luck on Saturday, before hopping into a cab.

The cab made it two blocks before he was “pulled forcefully” out by the same officers and asked about his “suspicious comment.”

After an hour-long interrogation by a growing number of officers, he was arrested for “being intoxicated in a public place.” He’d drunk 31/2 beers over the course of the ball game.

At the station, Salvati said he was violently strip-searched — “they kicked me in the knees, kneed me in the torso, slapped me in the face, dragged me along the floor until my pants and underwear were removed” — and left naked in a holding cell for four hours. He was never permitted to speak to a lawyer. Upon his release, he asked the sergeant for the name of the officers who interviewed him.

“I was told nobody came to interview me. I imagined the entire interview,” he said.

None of the stories have been proven in court, nor will many ever reach a courtroom, although Salvati plans to sue police.

Even if some of it was theatrical licence, the nasty details piled up. Kicking. Punching. Threats of gang rape. All this from people paid well to protect us.

Their job is to enforce the law. Instead they themselves broke it.

Many people in the room wore poppies. The session stopped early for Remembrance Day, so people could hurry to ceremonies. That irony wasn’t lost on us. What is freedom worth, if it can be so thoughtlessly snatched away? What was all that fighting for?

“One of the main tenants of the rule of law is police will not overreact,” said Paul Cavalluzzo, the Toronto lawyer who acted as lead counsel on both the Walkerton and Maher Arar inquiries. “Otherwise we will end up being a police state.”

Twice, I heard the sad statement, “I wasn’t even protesting.” A businessman was so frightened by what he saw on the streets that weekend he didn’t want to be photographed at the hearing. He worried police were watching him.

It reminded me of that slippery slope and a line from Auden’s Refugee Blues: “Once we had a country and we thought it fair.”

First it was the anarchists, who deserved the draconian measures. Then the protesters. Then anyone wearing black. Then anyone on Queen Street. Then anyone in a cab who casually said something nice to a police officer.

Rights are not easily gained. Nor should they be easily withdrawn, for a weekend, for an evening, for a moment.

Our faith in our police was effortlessly broken. It will take careful effort and months of hard work to rebuild it.

If you take your constitutional rights as seriously as I do, send a protest letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper demanding a public inquiry. His email address is: pm@pm.gc.ca.”

Tristan November 26, 2010 at 11:36 pm

Just in case you were wondering, police officers who committed crimes during the G20 will not be held accountable for their unlawful use of force causing bodily injury of civilians:

“On Thursday, the agency announced no charges will be laid against police officers for injuries to civilians during the G20 protests.

In Latimer’s case, the agency interviewed nine witness officers from the Toronto Police Services as well a civilians. SIU director Ian Scott concluded that while there was “reasonable ground” to believe excessive force was used, they were unable to tell which officer caused his injuries.”

http://www.thestar.com/news/torontog20summit/article/896777–officers-not-at-fault-for-injuries-during-g20-protests-siu?bn=1

Byron Smith November 27, 2010 at 12:02 am

I assume you guys have been following the recent student protests in the UK and the police response?

Tristan November 27, 2010 at 10:38 am

Zizek on the use of violence in UK student protests:

“People saying you could have delivered the same message without violence. F*ck them!”

Hear the lecture: http://backdoorbroadcasting.net/2010/11/slavoj-zizek-violence-revisited/

. December 5, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Policing in Canada
Mutiny of the Mounty
The troubles of a once-revered force

Nov 11th 2010 | Ottawa | from PRINT EDITION

WHEN 14 senior officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada’s national police force, recently took the rare step of complaining to politicians about their civilian boss, William Elliott, it was clear that either he or they would have to go. On November 4th Mr Elliott emerged on top, announcing a reorganisation that sent his former deputy into a non-job and reassigned many of his other detractors.

But that may not be the end of the troubles of the Mounties, as the famous force is known. They have a national remit to fight organised and economic crime, terrorism and drug trafficking. They also provide policing under contract for eight provinces and three territories (Ontario and Quebec each have a provincial police force) as well as 200 cities, and patrol the Great Lakes and St Lawrence River.

The force was already in upheaval in 2007 when Mr Elliott, a civil servant, was picked by the minority Conservative government of Stephen Harper to be its first civilian commissioner. His task was to overhaul an outfit described in a government-commissioned report as “horribly broken” by a string of fiascos which included interference in the 2006 general-election campaign, involvement in the rendition of a Syrian-born Canadian and claims of nepotism and fraud involving RCMP pension funds. Yet despite a string of reports and task forces the Mounties’ reputation continues to languish. British Columbia’s justice minister, speaking on behalf of colleagues from other provinces, said they want to see evidence of reform before renewing policing contracts that expire in 2012.

Tristan December 21, 2010 at 3:09 pm

The charges against constable Babak Andalib-Goortani describe a criminal offense which was committed by hundreds of officers during the G20 meetings, and happened all over Toronto. This can be confirmed by thousands of protestors, and thousands of videos. To not recognize the reality of a massive conspiracy of silence attempting to protect the legitimacy of the police, pretending this charge to be an isolated incident is to chose to be complicit with the carefully orchestrated legitimization of illegal police violence.

. December 22, 2010 at 5:13 pm

G20 protests: Don’t let charge be end of story
Wed Dec 22 2010
The Star

And now someone has been charged. This should not be the end of the story, however. What happened on the weekend of June 26-27 in our city was not the fault of one police officer — or, for that matter, of one police chief. Plenty of others were involved, including the RCMP (who were in charge of security at the summit), the provincial government (which promulgated the so-called secret law expanding police powers), and Prime Minister Stephen Harper (who reportedly gave marching orders to senior bureaucrats to crack down hard on any protesters who got out of line). Various other small inquiries into the G20 summit are under way. But only a full public inquiry will get the answers we need on how things went so wrong that weekend.

Tristan January 9, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Ontario ombudsman André Marin’s press conference on the use of the Public Works protection act during the Toronto G20 meetings:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irLQvuHsLI8&feature=player_embedded#at=195

My Summery:

-Public Works Protection act is a war relic which remains ontario law despite being in clear violation of the Charter

-Police petitioned Ontario government in secret to extend the zone covered by the PWPA

-Ontario Government purposeful decided to extend zone covered by PWPA

-Police searched people under the PWPA kilometers from the fence, “should be called not the 5 meter rule, but the 5km rule”

-Ombudsman has had zero cooperation from the Ontario police, zero cooperation from Chief Blair.

-Common law authority does not entitle the police to exercise prophylactic scan detention, and that’s what they were doing

-Martial law was effectively put into place but not announced, people had no way of knowing that normal law and order was not inforce

-If the police and government had felt the common law was insufficient to protect the G20 leaders, they could have passed a piece of legislation like the war measures act.

-“For the citizens of Toronto, the days up to and including the weekend of the G20 will live in infamy as a time period where martial law set in the city of Toronto, leading to the most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history, and we can never let that happen again.”

. January 24, 2011 at 6:12 pm

My buddy Brett Gundlock was arrested, roughed up and jailed by the
Powers That Be during the Toronto G20 protests….just for going about
his job as a National Post fotografer
.

. February 7, 2011 at 10:52 pm

The Guardian’s Patrick Kingsley has a great look at the story behind Sukey, a networked tool that helps protestors in London avoid police “kettles” (when police illegally corral protestors, passers-by and residents into a small area and detain them for hours without access to food, toilets, or medicine). Sukey was used for the first time on Saturday’s protests against anti-cuts march in London, and for the first time in recent history, protestors avoided kettling (their counterparts in Manchester and Edinburgh — who don’t have Sukey yet — weren’t so lucky).

I keep trying to put myself in the cops’ shoes and imagining what I would do to defeat Sukey. I think throwing a lot more cops at the kettle (to make it harder to escape the cordon as it tightens) would go some way toward this, and of course, they could try to shut down mobile connectivity and/or jam WiFi in central London, but I don’t think that the public would be too happy about that. They could try to inject misinformation into the system (the recent revelations about large numbers of paid provocateurs in British protest movements certainly makes this plausible), which would probably spark some countermeasures from its creators.

Mostly, I suspect they’re going to try to lean on the kids who make and use Sukey, and also try to get their ISP shut down. They may even find some trumped-up charge to use (“Reporting the position of a police officer” could be “obstructing justice,” with enough imagination) against anyone caught reporting or accessing Sukey. It probably won’t hold up in court, but it’s probably got limited efficacy as a shakedown/intimidation tactic.

. March 1, 2011 at 9:10 am

The Fifth Estate
You should have stayed at home
The Summit from the Street: exclusive eyewitness video exposes a G20 you’ve never seen before

. March 16, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Why were police cruisers left to burn at G20 summit?
SHANNON KARI
From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Mar. 16, 2011 2:26AM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, Mar. 16, 2011 11:36AM EDT

Hours after groups of “black bloc” vandals on Queen Street allegedly forced Toronto police to evacuate two cruisers on the Saturday of the G20 summit last June, the vehicles were still abandoned. Eventually, Toronto police cruiser 3251, and then car 766 were set on fire by onlookers-turned-hoodlums, their actions photographed by bystanders and posted on YouTube.

Even after the vehicles were alight, emergency personnel were absent on that stretch of Queen. Instead, eyewitness photos show riot squad officers nearby on Spadina Avenue, preventing people from walking south. Dozens of people watched the cars engulfed by flames in the middle of downtown Toronto, with nary a police officer impeding their view.

As the calls continue for a public inquiry into the police actions during the summit – over the violence, unprecedented number of arrests and the vandalism – questions also remain about the decision to leave the cruisers unattended.

At a bail hearing last summer, which was not subject to a publication ban, the Crown indicated that undercover officers were on Queen Street photographing the burning of the cars.

. April 29, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Ontario to repeal legislation that allowed searches at G20 summit
Police had been granted ‘extraordinary powers’
Lee Greenberg, Ottawa Citizen

Ontario will repeal the controversial wartime legislation that, according to the country’s largest rights watchdog, resulted in countless violations of civil liberties during last summer’s G20 summit in downtown Toronto.

Jim Bradley, minister of community safety, announced the changes Thursday morning, just as the province released a report on the Public Works Protection Act (PWPA) by former chief justice Roy McMurtry.

In his report, McMurtry calls the legislation “overly broad and vague” and says it fails to strike a balance between police powers and individual liberties.

“The vagueness of the PWPA permits it to be used in situations when it is arguably not necessary and potentially abusive,” McMurtry writes. “In my view, the PWPA has been used for purposes beyond its original intent.”

The law allows any guard or peace officer to “search, without warrant, any person entering or attempting to enter a public work” and to demand the name, address and purpose of any such person.

. November 29, 2011 at 7:47 pm

A civil charge brought by a man who was arrested on his way to church during the Toronto G20 has revealed that senior officers ordered Toronto’s police to make illegal arrests during the event. The man was held for 28 hours, 20 of them in handcuffs. He was arrested by as many as 20 officers, who believed him to be suspicious because he was wearing a bandanna. He was also subjected to a strip search.

. May 17, 2012 at 11:26 am

Police violated civil rights, acted illegally, says scathing report on G20 summit

http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/05/16/police-violated-civil-rights-acted-illegally-says-scathing-report-on-g20-summit/

TORONTO — Police violated civil rights, detained people illegally, and used excessive force during the G20 summit two years ago, a new report concludes.

The report by Ontario’s independent police watchdog also blasts the temporary detention centre that Toronto police set up for its poor planning, design and operation that saw people detained illegally.

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director found police breached several constitutional rights during the tumultuous event, in which more than 1,100 people were arrested, most to be released without charge.

“Some police officers ignored basic rights citizens have under the Charter and overstepped their authority when they stopped and searched people arbitrarily and without legal justification,” the report states.

The 300-page report, which provides a detailed look at the events that weekend, finds that protesters were not the only ones who resorted to violence.

. June 2, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Dozens of police officers facing charges for G20 actions

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/dozens-of-police-officers-facing-charges-for-g20-actions/article2436266/

A handful of senior Toronto police commanders will likely face disciplinary charges for their roles in the crackdown on protesters at the G20 summit two years ago, the first concrete sign top brass will be held responsible for allegations of abuse of power levelled at the force.

The revelation came a day after a provincial report revealed for the first time which high-ranking officers ordered the use of controversial tactics at the summit.

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director, a provincial agency, investigated 207 complaints and ordered disciplinary charges in 107 of them. Ninety-six of these were deemed to be serious. In those cases, the civilian board that oversees the force must review the cases before they can proceed to a tribunal.

On Thursday, the police review office said that it has recommended disciplinary tribunals for some senior officers of the Toronto Police Service.

The agency has not yet formally referred the cases against the senior officers to the board, said chair Alok Mukherjee, but added that he understands they concern fewer than six commanders.

. August 28, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Black-clad antifa members attack peaceful right-wing demonstrators in Berkeley

Their faces hidden behind black bandannas and hoodies, about 100 anarchists and antifa— “anti-fascist” — members barreled into a protest Sunday afternoon in Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park.

Jumping over plastic and concrete barriers, the group melted into a larger crowd of around 2,000 that had marched peacefully throughout the sunny afternoon for a “Rally Against Hate” gathering.

Shortly after, violence began to flare. A pepper-spray-wielding Trump supporter was smacked to the ground with homemade shields. Another was attacked by five black-clad antifa members, each windmilling kicks and punches into a man desperately trying to protect himself. A conservative group leader retreated for safety behind a line of riot police as marchers chucked water bottles, shot off pepper spray and screamed, “Fascist go home!”

. August 28, 2017 at 1:57 pm

In February, 150 similarly black-clad agitators caused $100,000 worth of damage when they smashed through Berkeley protesting a University of California at Berkeley speech by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. Portland, Ore., has been the scene of street battles between antifa members and white nationalists this summer. White nationalist Richard Spencer was sucker-punched by a protester in a January video that went viral. And Inauguration Day 2017 in Washington, D.C., was marked by violence when masked protesters burned vehicles, smashed windows and clashed with police, leading to 231 arrests.

. September 12, 2017 at 12:03 am

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: