Saturday, June 26, 2010

G20 Protests - Damage in the Streets

Sid Ryan gathered some union members and started a march of about 4,000 down University Avenue on Saturday, June 26, 2010. The early start to the peaceful march was briefly interrupted when a single elderly protester got into the barriers along University Avenue in front of the American Consulate. The riot police banged their shields and deployed within the barriers and five or six of the officers then took down the protester.
The protest carried on down to Queen Street, turning west towards Spadina. They had to turn west at Queen Street because of the line of bicycle police forming an arc, backed up by a phalanx of riot police who were in turn supported by a contingent of mounted police. Along the route sidestreets were blocked with riot police keeping the march moving west.

At Queen and Spadina the main group went north back to Queens Park while a large contingent remained at the intersection confronting the police blocking their way south. After a short period the protesters left this area and headed east along Queen Street towards Bay Street and the Eaton Centre.

Walking along Queen Street behind the protest we surveyed the damage as mail boxes were tipped over in the street and the occasional windows were broken and cars damaged. CTV and the banks seemed to be the specific targets.

At the former Much Music Building and now home to CTV the riot police move closer after windows in the building were broken. When they moved people out of speakers corner some of the protesters were hit by police including this young lady who said she got a riot shield pressed against followed with a baton hit against the shield that left a welt on her arm.

We were continuing down Bay Street when the police began blocking off intersections, cutting off the protesters in the individual blocks as reports of explosions began to surface - it turns out that these were the police cars being destroyed and lit on fire. Here is the view looking south down Bay Street.
After they had opened up a lot of Bay Street the police suddenly set up a blockade on Bay Street just south of Queen Street and the court house. The chanting of the crowds soon sent this group of riot police heading south.
There were a couple of police cars set afire on this day, several in the area of Queen and Spadina. One of the cars still smolders in the background as the riot police line up along Queen Street.
Protester were in several large groups throughout the downtown core. Some were closer to the fenced area while many others circulated along Queen Street, University Street, Queens Park and also Yonge Street.

The protestors were made up of several major groups - the hard core anarchists hoping to stir things up, the activists getting their message across to the world forum that the G20 creates, the protesters protesting the police powers and loss of freedoms, the main stream and online media documenting the day and a large group of people watching what happens and taking part in the protest in a very mild way. Only the anarchists really wanted to cause damage and there really wasn't that many of them and most of the time they were dressed in black with balaclavas and hoods disguising their identities. When the anarchist group joined up with the peaceful protesters at Queens Park they took off their black clothes and blended into the crowd.
As the day wore on the police seemed to be trying to bore the protesters into dispersing, both the small component eager to cause damage and mayhem and the regular activists intent on peaceful means, when things changed and the mounted and riot police moved into Queens Park. The police moved north onto the south yard of the legislature and began driving the protesters north where many were struck by batons and arrested. I was surprised because I thought Queens Park was supposed to be the official protest site.
Up till that point the police were only containing the crowd with lines of police blocking routes leading south towards the fence. Even the damage along Queen Street and Bay Streets went unchallenged which I think was a good idea as the anarchists needed to get the crowd whipped into a frenzy and willing to take on the police - however this is Canada and all we really wanted to do was protest and witness the events of the day. Seeing the police charge in and start arresting people would have got many of the crowd angry and really ramp up the charged atmosphere.
The anarchists have certainly hijacked the day and everyone will now only think of the damage that was done and probably call for an end of more of our freedoms. Well, at least the world leaders weren't inconvenienced.

See more pictures of the protest after the jump.

Here is my YouTube video of Saturday's protest march and damage in the streets.

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