O Canada? Peaceful G20 Protest at Queen and Spadina

torontoThis video footage of a peaceful G20 protest at Queen and Spadina is jarring. It's clearly a peaceful protest, something we're allowed to do in this city, and the protesters are even united in their singing of O Canada.

Then, the police charge. Watch this.

That footage turns my stomach. This isn't my Toronto.

That same intersection is the subject of more controversy tonight. I understand hundreds are being held there by police without explanation. Thanks for coming out, G20.

[via Jonas Naimark's Flickr]

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Comments (41 - click here to join in!)

_Justink

The police just think they can push us citizens around. You know, you're innocent until proven guilty. It seems that that's been flipped around by the police this weekend regarding the g20. 99% of the people there did absolutely nothing wrong.

June 27, 2010 @ 9:09 PM

Anonymous

It's unfortunate but that's what happens when you join a crowd. Police have their orders and when they tell people to stay back, they mean stay back. Simple as that. If a cop asks to check you, comply. You have some of the bigest powers in the world here for three days, you have to expect securty to be heavy.

June 27, 2010 @ 9:34 PM

Freddie P.

Cry us a river Mike.. I'm sure the police had their reasons for doing what they did.
I think they might be privy to info that you and I aren't.
I mean really, do you have to be told that?
After what happened on Saturday, there would be only one reason for someone to go downtown today, and that would be to shit disturb.
The cops have been fabulous through this - they've showed a lot of control in the face of every jerk off with a chip on his shoulder.
You're right, this isn't my Toronto either, thank the cops for trying to wrestle it back.

June 27, 2010 @ 9:54 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

I'm sorry, but we have the right to peaceful protest. We have the right to assemble.

This weekend, those rights were clearly trampled on. http://twitter.com/spaikin did a great job of tweeting that fact in real-time yesterday.

June 27, 2010 @ 10:05 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

And Freddie P, the police have some serious explaining to do on this one.

If there's a good reason the cops broke the law, we'll hear them out. But as it stands tonight, this was an abuse of power. I don't get it.

June 27, 2010 @ 10:11 PM

Freddie P.

Hey Mike, in case you didn't know, there were special circumstances this weekend and everybody was warned before hand.
To lay blame at the feet of the police is childish and extremely naive.

June 27, 2010 @ 10:13 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Freddie, I don't think it's sufficient to dismiss this as "they were warned to avoid downtown Toronto - they get what they deserve for mingling at Queen and Spadina".

The problem, IMHO, is that we can't tolerate violence yet we must permit peaceful protests. The cops don't do anything when the cop car burners and windows smashers are doing their thing last night, but tonight they go all Guantanamo Bay on a peaceful crowd in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This isn't Guantanamo Bay. This is Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and it's disappointing you're calling anyone who asks these questions and questions these practices "childish and extremely naive".

I hope there was a great reason for this, but "special circumstances this weekend and everybody was warned before hand" won't cut it with me.

June 27, 2010 @ 10:22 PM

Mark

So Saturday the police don't do enough. Sunday they do too much. As for those poor people being held in the intersection, cry me a river. The explanation seemed like a good one. People from that group were seen with weapons and donning masks like on Saturday. They surrounded the crowd and prevented the mayhem like we saw on Saturday. If you're to stupid to get out of the way then it sucks to be you.

Maybe if all the armchair QB's wait a day or two we'll see the array of weapons that were seized prior to them being used on our streets.

June 28, 2010 @ 3:02 AM

Freddie P.

Having known cops, both friends and relatives, I long ago determined you have to walk an inch in their shoes to appreciate what they go through.
Damned it you do, damned if you don't.
As Mark says, there were hundreds of crude weapons confiscated in that area.
Take no chances. If it means being inconvenienced, too bloody bad.
If this happened in Toronto all the time Mike, you might have an argument.
But again, special circumstances call for special measures, and if you can't accept that, well, it's rather immature.

June 28, 2010 @ 7:51 AM

Cambo

Mike, read up on this story a bit.

The cops were tipped there were some black pajamas hiding in the crowd. This wasn't simply "Hey you're a protester, we're going to surround you".

What would you have them do, wait for something to happen and then blame them for allowing it to happen? Or stop them first. Extreme times call for extreme measures. Unfortunately, a few hoodlums ruined the experience for the peaceful ones.

You have the right to peaceful protest. The cops have the right to do what is necessary to keep it that way.

I, for one, support the ISU 100% for their actions this weekend. Unfortunately a few professional protesters ruined for everyone. The cops showed far more restraint than other countries have in the past.

June 28, 2010 @ 8:23 AM

Boomer

Mike, are you friggin' kidding? Did you happen to possibly hear about what happen on Saturday?

I cannot believe anyone has anything close to negative to say about the police. The shit they put up with leading up to Sunday is incredible.

Come on Mike.

June 28, 2010 @ 8:41 AM

Boomer

Mike, are you friggin' kidding? Did you happen to possibly hear about what happen on Saturday?

I cannot believe anyone has anything close to negative to say about the police. The shit they put up with leading up to Sunday is incredible.

Come on Mike.

June 28, 2010 @ 10:24 AM

Anonymous

Wow, first person I have heard that is not disgusted and appalled by the protesting.

The message is lost entirely when "protesters" loot and destroy.

These people should be thrown in jail, they are pathetic excuses for human beings.

They come in bus-loads from Quebec, to do what? To bring weapons and loot, destroy, burn, and otherwise cause anarchy.

Some might have some sort of political message, but the vast majority's disregard for not only the law, but their fellow human beings, innocent civilians, and police doing their job to protect us.

I am shocked to see you post this Mike. It shows a complete ignorance of the events with an opinion based on one aberrant situation.

June 28, 2010 @ 11:38 AM

James

What don't you get?

You'd prefer violent protesters, terrorists, and anarchists given free reign to wreak havoc?

I'd much rather have the weapons and their owners dealt with PRIOR to any damage being done, which is exactly what happened.

The only thing being abused is the right to protest.

In most cases it is an excuse to loot and destroy, particularly the people from Quebec who organized buses to come here and mess with us.

June 28, 2010 @ 11:41 AM

paul

There are no "special circumstances" to justify the martial law imposed on Toronto. No summit of international Masters of the Universe trumps our democracy. It's that simple and no amount of rationalisation can justify the police state. And... maybe if these "leaders" don't like the protests, then they should listen to the demands of the people...

June 28, 2010 @ 11:43 AM

Trish

I assume you were there, Mike? Well, I was. I live on that block. I can tell you that the police held their ground and keep us spectators from getting hurt. I can tell you that the anarchists taunted the police repeatedly, but you never saw them losing control as most of the anarchists did. I can tell you that most of the anarchists didn't have a clue about what is meant by "new world order" or "justice". They were just along for the crime spree. And let's get this straight -- there is no such thing as a "peaceful" protest. I wouldn't call a protest that prevents downtown hourly wage earners from working for two whole days "peaceful". I wouldn't call a protest that stretches across a busy street and creates hazardous conditions for pedestrians "peaceful". I definitely wouldn't call the anarchists who worked themselves into a zombie state as they pushed westward along Queen West "peaceful". Of all of the idiot groups (including the cowardly cyclists who arrived at the scene on Richmond St. W. and tried to join in AFTER the threat was contained), the self-proclaimed "peaceful" protesters were the most disturbing of all -- because they tried to keep us from going home. Boomer is right. The police have incredible resolve. Good job, guys.

June 28, 2010 @ 11:44 AM

James

What don't you get?

You'd prefer violent protesters, terrorists, and anarchists given free reign to wreak havoc?

I'd much rather have the weapons and their owners dealt with PRIOR to any damage being done, which is exactly what happened.

The only thing being abused is the right to protest.

In most cases it is an excuse to loot and destroy, particularly the people from Quebec who organized buses to come here and mess with us.

June 28, 2010 @ 11:45 AM

CQ

"This isn't Guantanamo Bay." - 27th 22:22pm
This isn't some Pollyanna Smurf Village either, Mike.

The cops did a great job throughout the weekend. They didn't make undue arrests 'before' the real thugs actually rioted, then they maintained the city safely on Sunday. I'm disappointed in just how numerous of the naive chanted in defense of the 'f'urious.

June 28, 2010 @ 12:12 PM

Bone Chain

I was in the march on Saturday. The first sign of trouble I saw was from RCMP units armed to the teeth, in full riot gear and guns at the US embassy facing a peaceful march (Amnesty, Unions, Maternal Health rights groups etc...) with raised clubs. This was a ridiculous over reaction.

Queen and Spadina was inevitably going to be a flash point since the march was not allowed to go south or west any further. Into a throng of peaceful protests drove two cruisers that had no purpose being in a crowd and could not contribute to keeping the peace. Anyone could have seen that the black block would eventually pass this point.

From my own first hand experience, the police acted over the top in a threatening manner with legitimate protesters early on and not strong enough with the property destroying douchebags THAT HAD NO PROBLEM WEARING BRANDS MADE IN SWEATSHOPS (NIKE, FILA).

It is shortsighted to consider the peaceful protesters naive. The situation changed rapidly and a lot of people were caught in a bad situation through no fault of their own.

June 28, 2010 @ 12:28 PM

Bone Chain

Trish - if there is no such thing as a peaceful protest then there is no such thing as peaceful resistance. I presume you think Ghandi was a terrorist then? What about the Soweto uprising? Should Rosa Parks have been arrested for not obeying the law?

Sorry, but there are a lot of things wrong in the world and peaceful protests are a just and rightous way of generating attention, media coverage and awareness.

In Ireland, the refusal of a union worker to handle apartheid goods from South Africa led to a countrywide boycott of apartheid goods in the 80's.

But I presume people that act in a manner like this should worry about a poor inconvenienced soul like yourself first... You might miss a shopping trip of two.

June 28, 2010 @ 12:37 PM

TCN

Enough, Bone Chain. This thread is specific to the incident at Queen and Spadina on Sunday, and has nothing to do with Saturday, nor your opinions on a "just and rightous way" of protesting.

Re. this incident, the cops say they issued three warnings for people to clear the area before the "kettling" began.

If I were there I would not have waited for the second or third warning.

June 28, 2010 @ 1:02 PM

Bone Chain

There were also incidents at the same location on Saturday, during what was a peaceful protest march.

''This thread is specific to the incident at Queen and Spadina on Sunday''
- anyone posting up an asinine comment such as 'there is no such thing as a peaceful protest' on a public forum leaves themselves wide open to being challenged.

June 28, 2010 @ 1:22 PM

Trish

- anyone posting up an asinine comment such as 'there is no such thing as a peaceful protest' on a public forum leaves themselves wide open to being challenged. -

Sounds like a threat, B.C. Very peaceful indeed! But spare me the sanctimony. The activists you mention lived their lives committed to justice. Your devotion to "just and righteous ways of protesting" is a passing phase. Funny how you types never get into the issues. Next weekend, be you'll be wearing your "Israeli apartheid" button, and the week after that? Who knows? Perhaps protesting the inevitable cancellation of "Glee".

June 28, 2010 @ 2:58 PM

4x4 Time

I was out of the city all weekend, but I am told by people who were in the city this weekend that some Black Bloc people on Saturday were throwing ballons full of urine at the cops. Nice.

June 28, 2010 @ 3:20 PM

Il Duce

@Mike

What exactly were these people protesting? Look at the video again and tell me what was wrong with it. How was it clear that this was peaceful? Why, because they were singing the National Anthem? It's not like the cops were swinging their batons and smashing people on the head, although part of me wishes they did. They rushed the crowd to disperse it.

How were police supposed to know if this crowd wouldn't get violent? Were the peaceful protester's wearing white hats and the violent ones wearing black. How were police able to distinguish this after what happened on the night or days before?

You seem like a pretty smart guy Mike but sometimes you come up with these ridiculous Toronto Star debates. During the year, police allow peaceful protests to take place and do nothing but make sure it doesn't get violent or out of control. Do you not remember when the Sri Lankan community blocked the streets of Toronto putting thousands of citizens into turmoil. No, people like you don't remember that instance or the hundreds of other peaceful protests that are allowed to take place.

You're quick to criticize the police in a situation like this when they're under extreme duress and yes these were special circumstances. Yet you're very reluctant to praise when they're doing their jobs the thousands of other times.

This footage turns your stomach, give us a break! What, the footage of thousands of bums breaking windows and burning cop cars didn't get your attention. Or the 70 or so people who were arrested on Sunday morning whom I might add were staying on campus at the U of T while storing weapons there. Imagine that, at an institution of higher learning where our tax dollars go to.

Typical for you Mike and almost predictable.

June 28, 2010 @ 3:29 PM

Bone Chain

First: Your comment was asinine. And if you are confusing a rebuttal to a ridiculous statement as a threat then i'm not sure you have the mental capacity to understand what an arguement is.

Second: You previously labelled all protesters as non-peaceful with 'And let's get this straight -- there is no such thing as a "peaceful" protest'.
Now you say: 'the activists you mention lived their lives committed to justice'. Which is it? You are contradicting yourself.

Thirdly: 'Funny how you types never get into the issues.' Which 'type' is this? You don't know a thing about me (except that I think very little of you).

June 28, 2010 @ 3:39 PM

fsmith

Mike,

Read your blog quite often, not anymore. Peaceful protest, give me a break. Way to go TPS and other Services involved, you made MANY, but apparently not all of us proud.

June 28, 2010 @ 3:59 PM

Trish

Their kind of peaceful protest doesn't exist anymore, dear. Now it's all all about egocentrics with daddy issues. I presume a bone chain is a weapon used to smash store windows?

June 28, 2010 @ 4:01 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@fsmith

That seems a little dramatic, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

And no, I'm not refunding your registration $.

June 28, 2010 @ 4:14 PM

Bone Chain

4x4 ''I was out of the city all weekend, but I am told by people who were in the city this weekend that some Black Bloc people on Saturday were throwing ballons full of urine at the cops. Nice.''

They broke the American Apparel window on Yonge and threw faeces as well. It was horrific.

June 28, 2010 @ 4:19 PM

Ryan

I completely agree Mike. This is not the T.O. way at all. Anyone who would stop reading this blog because they think that the police acted correctly (and that does mean not violating the rights of those in Toronto)and disagree with Mike's comments are just plain stupid.

They had no control on Saturday and felt embarrassed and overcompensated on the Sunday by acting like North Korean Riot Police.

Let's just say it like it is. There were many innocent people who were detained and later let go as a precaution. This is not in the spirit of T.O.!!

Harper, next time take the G8 and bring it back to RURAL CALGARY!!!! Toronto hates you and you have just given more reasons to support that. You better endorse a cheque to T.O for the clean up!!!!!

This type of shit show belongs in Calgary where Irvine and the rest of them can sit back without challenging current law and state of affairs (protesting). In T.O., we feel we have that right and will use it.

June 28, 2010 @ 6:07 PM

CQ

"acting like North Korean Riot Police" and "You better endorse a cheque to T.O"
Why not ask the city & province to sue the eventually convicted loosely organized thugs for damages under a collective outlaw gang law instead?

June 28, 2010 @ 7:12 PM

Ryan

Those at Nathan Phillips Square right now are there to protest the way the Police handled shit and the fact that they aren't answering questions.

@CQ - The cops were there to correctly deal with scenarios exactly like those brought by those "thugs". They did not. They failed miserably, especially Day 2. I'll let the courts take care of these thugs. And yes, they are part of the problem. However, the money was spent because that was going to happen. A lot of that money went to POLICING the protests. What a waste!!!! What a joke!!!!!

BTW, I'm a big fan of police outside of this incident. And of course i don't blame the officers. I blame the people who made these god awful calls during the two day period.

June 28, 2010 @ 8:10 PM

Paul

Dad fought a war against those creeps, now they're running the place.

June 29, 2010 @ 12:50 AM

Pete

Mike,

You got this all wrong as do many others here. Like it or not, these people were not peaceful protesters. Peaceful protesters go through the proper process in order to protest in Canada.

If you disagree with something in Canada and you are able to gather more people together in agreement with your protest, do you think you can just walk down Queen Street in Toronto, waving flags, banners and yelling your disagreement? Sorry to be the bearer of the bad news, but you can't.

Now, if you go through the process and get the proper approvals etc, you will get the Police and other higher authorities to not only allow you to demonstrate, they will protect your right to do it. Many Police officers may not agree with what you are protesting, but they will defend your right to your opinion, if you do it correctly.

Imagine of the Gay Pride organizers just started parading down Yonge without any process, would that be a peaceful demonstration?

Queens Park is set up to allow protesters, it has a design that is conducive to allow people to protest/demonstrate and not disrupt the flow of the city and allow the police to protect you while you have your say. The problem with that is the attention grabbing, criminal element types don't want that. They want to run around smashing windows and generally causing a disturbance. Do you think US President Obama cares what's on the mind of a looter? However, give a speech on Queens Park about your thoughts on the plight of the extremely poor in Canada and the US and there is a 100% greater chance that he might listen to your words.

I think the TO Coppers did a great job. Why they did what they did Saturday vs Sunday is not a concern for me. No one was killed, property damage was limited and tomorrow there will be almost no sign that it even happened. Hats off to the TO street cleaners too!

As Trish pointed out, these "peaceful" protesters caused small to enterprise businesses to lose money from lost sales, repairs and theft. Their employees lost wages, all in the name of a peaceful protest?

Don't get me wrong, I am the first one to suggest that all future GXX summits be held in China where there will be zero protesters, but that fact is they won't do it. As such, the Toronto Police did a great job and should be applauded for it.

I doubt they were perfect, that's why we have the Police Services Board and other organizations to review the conduct of the Police. If you have a beef, send them a message, be clear and provide evidence, because a number of those photographers out there, were Coppers and they have evidence too.

Sorry if it's a little rambling...

--Pete

June 29, 2010 @ 10:08 AM

jason | getyouroj.com

Freddie P is going to be the first to volunteer to get the new world order tracking chip implanted under his skin right after he finishes his yummy BACON sandwich...........

June 29, 2010 @ 4:29 PM

Steve

Mike,

You are right to highlight the terrible events that occurred this week-end in Toronto. Tonight as I write this, I am watching the news on television and I see the motorcade carrying the bodies of 2 young Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. As we know, far too many Canadians in our history have given their lives for our freedom and it is a shame that some people deny the importance of the right to protest and the guarantees in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Peaceful protests are a cornerstone of democracy. We must find a better way to exercise our rights in the face of attacks from a few self-styled anarchists rather than simply suspend our rights when things get difficult. Freddy P. should understand this.

Our outrage for this week-end’s events should be directed at our own politicians. They are the ones who gave the orders to the police. Rather than say that the police must have had good reasons for there behaviour, we must redouble our efforts to defend our freedoms and ensure that we protect our hard-won rights from those who would reduce our great nation to an authoritarian state.

June 29, 2010 @ 6:49 PM

Frank the Tank

Much like what has been mentioned earlier; where were the police Saturday how were the thugs able to get away with what they did? Fast forward to Sunday people are getting beat down, charged at or boxed in for sneezing alone.

I hate to say it because I respect all cops for the BS they have to put up with. They were following orders that came from above, I blame the person calling the shots. They messed up Saturday and had to overcompensate on Sunday, end of story.

Then we have Chief Blair(who I normally agree with his take on things and his actions) who has already said he lied about a law that gave the police the right to check ID within 5 feet of the fence.

June 30, 2010 @ 9:12 AM

Robert

The right to peaceful protest is guaranteed under the Charter (and, yes, I do understand that individuals involved in destroying property need to be held accountable). It is through this freedom of expression that we are able to challenge the status quo -- hopefully to make the country better -- whether it's for women's rights or better health care. Many comments I hear paint the protesters as unemployed drop-outs, which is strange to me, considering I was peacefully marching with lawyers and doctors, journos, and graphic designers. There is a serious disconnect regarding perceptions of the vast majority of the tens of thousands of people who attended the Saturday rally.

When the law that gave police extra powers was passed quietly and kept hushed – likely so no lawyer would have a chance to challenge its constitutionality – that should have set off alarm bells – and not just for civil rights groups. With these added powers, police should have understood they were being given a lot of responsibility by the society that pays their wage. Instead of using this power wisely, some in the police force felt that this new law gave them the license to stretch the law and their authority as far as possible.

Several non-protesters were caught up in this sweep, which serves as a caution to non-protesters, who think anyone who was at a rally deserves to be arrested – or worse. Among others, there is the story of the veterinarian, whose home was invaded by police. He awoke with masked police surrounding his bed. Only after he had a gun pointed at his head, threatened, and bullied did the police realize there was another apartment in the building, where the guy they really wanted lived. Oops.

Right now, politicians on all levels of government have been implicated in these events. That’s why so many want us to just forgive and forget, but I think we need to put the events on record and challenge the misperceptions of the day. That’s the foundation of a healthy society. In the end, no one should be afraid of the truth, no matter what it tells us about ourselves.

July 5, 2010 @ 8:13 PM

Mike from Lowville

Robert. You are absolutely bang on with your comments. Most of the comments on this blog and other G20 posts are from the very people that are allowing the corporate agenda the mow down democracy. With the politicians as the puppets!

July 10, 2010 @ 10:30 AM

Anonymous

Public Service Annoucement: Blowing bubbles can be an arrestable offence. Are your children safe? (Bubble Magik where are your warning labels???)

June 12, 2011 @ 11:09 AM

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