G20 diary 2010 .. black bloc protesters just politically mindless thugs

Jun 26th, 2010 | By | Category: In Brief
Police car on fire at Bay and King, Toronto financial district.

Police car on fire at Bay and King, Toronto financial district.

TORONTO. SATURDAY JUNE 26, 2010. 5 PM ET. There is so much local reporting on the G8/G20 meetings in this region of the world right now. The online edition of the Toronto Star, eg, has been running a good live blog on the hardworking journalists’ view from the streets, as it were — first in Huntsville/Muskoka for the G8 and now here in Toronto for the G20.  And it has taken me a while to get up for adding to the cacophony.

So … it is now about 3:40 PM local time. Until quite recently, here and in Huntsville, the visible street-level “protest” scene that typically accompanies the deliberations of the world leaders behind closed doors has appeared quite modest. The local security preparations have seemed vastly overblown (as well as ridiculously expensive).  Sometime after 3 this afternoon, however, an orderly enough protest march through the Toronto downtown started turning violent, at the apparent instigation of so-called “black bloc”thugs.

What is the message of these “protesters”? Jennifer Yang/Toronto Star.

What is the message of these “protesters”? Jennifer Yang/Toronto Star.

I have been watching this more violent protest develop on local TV — cp24, and CTV and CBC cable news. (Probably the best coverage has come from cp24, which also enjoys the advantage of having its headquarters in the Queen and John Street area, close to where one big part of the black-bloc violent protest has erupted.) Windows have been smashed — in police cars, a Starbucks, a few bank branches, and even, some say, the Bay department store at Queen and Bay. Now (not long before 4 PM) a police car, no make that two police cars, have been set on fire at King and Bay streets: in the heart of the Toronto financial district.

Strangely enough, in my own travels throughout the city last night there was a kind of premonition of this violence at the Bathurst subway station, a short while before 12 AM. Some young men were apparently exchanging hostile impulses at the far end of the eastbound platform. Even from where I stood with drinking colleagues, a safe distance away, you could almost feel the tension.

Shock and awe on Toronto police cars ... how is this different from George W. Bush in Iraq?   Steve Russell/Toronto Star.

Shock and awe on Toronto police cars ... how is this different from George W. Bush in Iraq? Steve Russell/Toronto Star.

Suddenly one guy punched another guy hard in the mouth, roundhouse style, and drew some prominent blood. All this had nothing to do with the G8/G20, as best as I could see. But it came back to me vividly when I saw the black bloc-protest violence on TV today.

Toronto’s certainly quite liberal (and even somewhat “socialist”?) Mayor David Miller was on cp24 not too long ago. Toronto welcomes peaceful protest, he said. The violence was the work of a few hundred people, who had no message beyond their own interest in causing trouble for the sake of causing trouble. (The mayor actually used the word “criminals” I believe: and the TV clips I saw of protesters smashing windows certainly seemed to bear this out.) These kinds of protesters, the mayor said, were not welcome in Toronto. The mayor supports all efforts by Police Chief Blair to contain and control this kind of mindless violence. (And so, I thought to myself on the edge of my TV couch, do I.)

Better in Muskoka the day before: Local girl Candie Walker with White House press secretary Robert Gibbs (l) and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel (2) in Huntsville chocolate shop.

Better in Muskoka the day before: Local girl Candie Walker with White House press secretary Robert Gibbs (l) and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel (2) in Huntsville chocolate shop.

Meanwhile, if you want to know what’s been happening of allegedly more serious consequence, here is the Text of the G8 communique, from the meetings up further north in beautiful (but all too rainy) Muskoka. The G8 meetings in Huntsville are now over. The more consequential G20 meetings in Toronto have begun.

And I will confess: as I hear still further TV reports about broken windows on Yonge Street, north of Queen, the violence on the streets of downtown Toronto this afternoon has surprised me somewhat — and distressed me too. But maybe it will do this city and this country some good. It is, no doubt, about time that we woke up and started to live in the real world, like everyone else.

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  1. Probably the best coverage of all has come from the unheralded global news.
    http://live.globaltoronto.com/Event/G8G20_live_coverage

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