The G8 – G20 week started on June 20 in Toronto and Huntsville, with many events marking the start of this global conference. The G8 and G20 mark the gathering of the world leaders to discuss the problems that face the world and how they can work together to solve them. Another thing that accompanies these conferences are the large number of protestors that appear around the conference to voice their opinions about their own issues. While most of these protests are peaceful, some of them turn violent. The weekend of June 26 and 27 was a very historic couple of days. Nearly a 1000 people were arrested during the summit.
The most peaceful protests that started on Friday were infiltrated by anarchist groups dressed in black and were only in the area to incite violence towards everyone and everything they could reach. The anarchist went on to smash and break a large number of storefronts and windows of many businesses on Queen Street and Yonge Street. After the police responded to the berserk anarchist crowds they continued to run through the streets throwing mailboxes and other debris onto the streets until it climaxed in the burning of a few police cruisers. The late response by the police had many in outrage on Saturday, the police responded with a heavy hand towards the rest of the peaceful protestors at the Queen’s Park area. The police believed that the suspected anarchists had hidden themselves amongst the peaceful protestors in a tactic known as Black Bloc. All the peaceful protestors were forcibly and violently removed from the Queen’s Park area by riot police. The rest of the Saturday night was filled with disturbances and heavy police presence.
The sun rising on Sunday brought with it a list of new problems. The biggest shock on Sunday was the discovery that the suspected anarchists were using the sewage tunnels to travel unhindered around the downtown core. This led to police welding manholes shut in all fenced off areas. The protest on the other hand still continued, but the police felt it was necessary to not make the same mistake they did on Saturday. When protestors gathered police presence seemed more heightened and more prone to retaliate. The police tactics had definitely changed from the last day. The usual peaceful protestors were treated almost exactly as the anarchists from Saturday. People suspected of being anarchists were searched and arrested based on suspicions as ridiculous as “was wearing black clothes”. All protests on Sunday were taken down by the police violently and unnecessarily aggressively, several journalists were also arrested and detained based on reasons as outrageous as “disturbing the peace”. The worst sights were witnessed in the night when the weather matched the mood on the streets by giving us a thunderstorm, that flooded the streets and subway stations. The police usually always gave and opening or and area where the protestors would go, but Sunday night it seemed as if they had chosen to block off hundreds of protestors and regular innocent bystanders in a “human pen” of sorts. These people were forced to stand there in the heavy rainfall as the police stood and looked on. The stand off eventually ended 2-3 hours later, but the damage had already been done. The people in the middle were not properly protected from the weather, their personal electronics were damaged because of the rain. The response from the authorities on why this event had occurred, was that they suspected many of the people in the group were donning black masks and thus they believed it was necessary to cordon of the entire group to the rest of the area.
The last couple of days were considered a “long haul” by the authorities and that the world will learn a lesson from this G20 as what not to do when hosting a global conference like this in a major global city.