This is a sad sad day for Toronto.
The down town core is in chaos as a splitter group of protesters broke away from a mostly peaceful protest to smash bank and business windows, throw bricks, golf balls, smash police car windows, attack media vehicles and light fire to two police cars.
Never in my time in Toronto have I ever seen such violence and senseless destructive behaviour. I’ve lived in this city for 26 years and I’ve never seen anything like this. Sure Toronto is a large diverse city, but it’s also a very peaceful city. Well, it was – until today.
The protesters, being called the Black Bloc which is believe to be the “Get off the Fence contingent” are apparently shouting slogans such as “Who’s streets, Our Streets”.
This group put out a media release at 1 pm this afternoon which said in part:
it plans to continue on to the summit site “to confront the self-proclaimed G20 leaders and the security apparatus that will have occupied our city. We will take back our city from these exploitative profiteers, and in the streets we will be uncontrollable.”
The news release uses the word “militant” a number of times to describe the planned demonstration.
I turned on the TV at about 3:30 pm and shortly after that two police cars were set on fire at the Bay and King street intersection in the heart of the cities stock market district.
The group then seemed to scatter and shortly thereafter there was news of rioting in the Yonge and College street areas.
Now there are reports that several businesses all along Yonge street from King to at least College have had their windows smashed and been vandalized. One reporter saw a security guard being beaten by several protesters.
While Yonge street was under siege there was no police presence. I’ve been monitoring the news and Twitter updates and I could see for myself that the lines of police in riot gear that are en masse in the “Security Zone” near the G20 summit area at the Metro Convention Center was non existent in much of the rest of the riot areas.
Many businesses and buildings completely shut down when the riots started. The Eaton’s Center – the largest shopping center in the down town area, is in lock down, as are many of the big hotels and the hospitals along University Avenue. All buses and streetcars in the down town area have been stopped and the subway has been stopped and closed in the downtown area as well.
At about 4:30 there was news that tear gas had been deployed, but now, as I write this at almost 5:20 pm there are new reports that no tear gas has been used. Our police force has apparently never used tear gas on a crowd of protesters ever in it’s history.
Frankly, in this case I think it probably should have been used, there’d be far less damage to the city if the police had been able to get the violent protesters under control earlier.
Again, I’ve never seen anything like this happen in Toronto.
Going back to that chant that the militant protesters were yelling “Who’s streets, Our Streets” – These are my streets, these are the people of Toronto’s streets. People who smash windows and burn police cars have no right to call these city streets their streets.
You are criminals!
I don’t mind peaceful protests, even though they can be quite disruptive at times. However, what is the point of such a violent and destructive protest? What do they gain from smashing windows and burning police cars? Really? All they did was justify the massive police force and the ((( GASP )))) more than $1 billion cost of this G20 summit – the most expensive ever.
Many of the protests and marches that have been going on all week have been about the high cost of the G20 Summit security and how that money could have been spent to build homes for the homeless, prevent poverty, promote women’s rights and or highlight how few rights women have in some areas and to highlight the plight of Aboriginals.
Again, how does smashing windows, starting fires and causing chaos help any of these causes?
I’m appalled that a few people could cause such destruction in my beautiful city. I’m also very angry. I hope the police put all those security cameras that have been so recently installed to good use and identify the people that caused these riots.
I’ll update this post or write a new one if the chaos continues or if anything more serious happens.