G20, a long awaited summit, which by some accident landed in Toronto (who knew!), is finally in a full swing. And with power comes... protests. Before we start, the fun part is that barely anyone can name all G20 countries whose representatives are gathered in Toronto. And barely anyone in Canada knows what issues are being discussed and what the talks are about. But just about everyone knows about the riots...
© Photo by David G. Tran
Gathered in peace, police reported a few thousand (some put the numbers at 5,000-6,000 people) protesters that were moving along the city near College street. However, the story quickly evolved as Black Bloc ultra-violent protesters took it further and, armed with baseball bats, hammers, and flares, turned a protest into a full-fledged assault. Riots erupted in several places — King and Bay, where a police car was burned to the ground, Queen street and Spadina, and College street and University avenue.
© Photo by Chris Huggins
While the police reports that over 500 people have been arrested so far (making it, probably, the largest arrest in Canadian history), I have trouble believing that violent protesters were home grown. From previous reports from G20 and G8 protests we have learned that many ultra-violent protesters were shipped and — presumably — paid, for their destructive actions.
© Photo by Scolirk / Nile Livesey
Toronto's protesters shuttered windows of Tim Horton's and Starbucks cafes, smashed ATM's, tagged the walls with graffiti, reading "F**k the banks" and et cetera, and trashed American Apparel and multiple other stores.
From a Torontonian perspective, I've have never seen so many police forces, as well as all that assault weaponry, including round shields and tear-gas shotguns. One would not be surprised to see that during heavily covered protests in France or United States, but to see that here, in a country where policemen are usually all about smiles, good humor and Tim Horton's coffee.
© <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jentakespictures/">Photo by Jen Takes Pictures
G20 summit is still going on during Sunday, and we expect no lesser rally, as photos and videos from the protests are pouring into the social media and creating a stir among the younger crowd. Be safe and don't get into trouble.
© Photo by Nancy Paiva/Torontoist
As for G8/G20, I fully support the advice of many to the leaders to meet on some deserted island in the Pacific. From now on, Toronto will be different, and people will be different too. Communities might be shattered, and people will not be as friendly as before. I can only hope that future festivals and city-wide activities will bring people together and will help them forget the horrors of burning police cars in the beautiful city of Toronto.