Monday, 28 June 2010

the #g20: send lawyers, guns and money

"One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it."
Anton Chekhov, letter to Aleksandr Semenovich Lazarev, 1 November 1889.

Well that went well.

900 people arrested in less than 48 hours - the biggest mass arrest in Canadian history. The first ever use of tear gas in the city of Toronto. And other milestones.

Our mayor says that criminals, who came here with the goal of committing violence and hid behind the "good" protesters, are responsible for the police going absolutely fucking batshit out of control over the weekend. Toronto police Chief Bill Blair went a bit further and said several hundred people were engaged in a "criminal conspiracy to attack the city."

Yes, Mayor Miller - some people DID come to Toronto with the goal of committing violence. Sadly many of them were police sent here to join the Integrated Security Unit. There is ample evidence to show that police were acting as the kettles, which I suppose makes the the so-called criminals the pots in this whole pot-and-kettle name calling scenario.

Porter: When police stick to phony script (police strategy)

Tear gas fired in downtown rampage (black bloc strategy)

But what about the restuvus? What about all those peaceful, officially-sanctioned, Mayor Miller-approved protesters? Here is Steve Paikin, whose stream of tweets on Saturday night shocked us as this tale unfolded, describing what happened in front of First Canadian Place:

On on Sunday evening at Queen and Spadina a similar incident occurred. People were "kettled" for several hours in a huge downpour - one that flooded Union Station so badly that the subway could not stop there. This was tweeted as it unfolded by Justin Stayshyn, known as UnionSt on Twitter, and by Lisan Jutras from the Globe and Mail. The Movement Defence Committee were asking people to come down and monitor what was happening.

The police chief responded with empathy and humanity as he described how the police work with nature: "It was unfortunate it was wet out there - it was wet for everybody, my people too, but the good thing is the rain dampened their enthusiasm and it allowed us to release those people unconditionally once the threat had been relieved." (City News)

This video of a scene on Queen Street is getting lots of play around the internet and seems to sum up how different groups of us stand on guard here in the Big Smoke:

As Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) says: "Free speech zones and massive security fences were set up in preparation for the June 26-27 Toronto summit. While the security fences held up, free speech appears to have fared poorly. Video footage, photographs and published reports paint a picture of legitimate public protest being suppressed, protesters being penned in and the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators in designated free speech zones."

Isn't all of Canada a "designated free speech zone?"

Did all of Toronto just learn some of the hard truths about how police can and do use force that equity-seeking groups have always known? It is time for us all to to stand on guard for our civil liberties, our freedom of speech and assembly, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, transparency and accountability for ad hoc expansion of legislation such as the public works protection act and civilian oversight for all security forces whether ad hoc or permanent.

CJFE "calls upon the police to respond to questions from reporters about their treatment of journalists. ...Merely urging individuals to file complaints about their treatment is an inadequate response from politically accountable security forces."

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has has denounced the sweeping arrests (including the arrests of CCLA monitors!) made by police at the G20 protests in Toronto.

Amnesty International Canada is calling for an independent review of the G8/G20 security measures. So are the street medics who provided care this weekend and the Toronto Star. We should join them in this demand. Or at least join this Facebook group.

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