It’s been a strange few weeks living in Toronto. The garbage cans in the downtown core disappeared. The mailboxes. That giant wire fence went up. Cops were hanging out in groups on corners like bored suburban teenagers, nothing to do, just waiting.
Now that the G20 is in full swing, that feeling of anticipation has turned into a weird, sickly tension. There were the photos yesterday of hundreds of cops in full riot gear advancing on the demonstration at Yonge and College (you can see some here at the CBC) and the news that a bylaw had been passed in secret to grant greater power to the security forces (read the article in the Toronto Star). When did the citizens of this city become the enemy of the security force?
Today there’s a large demonstration planned at Queen’s Park and I’m going. For 1.3 billion reasons. Among them:
- to protest the amount of money spent on this summit,
- that there even is a summit for the world’s elite to decide the fate of the rest of the world,
- that its presence here in Toronto turned us into a policed state so quickly and easily,
- to protest the idea that these meetings are representing the interests of the people in the countries represented rather than simply the leaders and their corporate alliances,
- as a refusal to be deterred by the strong and intimidating police presence (being arrested for walking and talking never seemed like a plausible outcome in my day but today? …),
- as a refusal to accept the idea these demonstrations are full of anarchists and terrorists and wacky kooks with violent tendencies. Nope, it’s thousands of people who are passionate about living in a better and more just world, who are unwilling to accept injustice,
- to be educated by those people. What I love about a demonstration like this is the number of groups who come together — there’s so much information available, speeches to be heard, literature to read, and issues that I don’t normally think about brought to my attention.
I don’t normally write on my blog about anything like this — and I’m not the most politically informed person. The (one?) good thing about the G20 summit being held about 10 minutes away from my home is it’s made it impossible for me not to think about the priorities our governments have made clear with their choices (to host this summit, where to host it, what to spend on it, how to make it “secure”) or to think about broader issues that affect all the world’s people.
If you’re interested in what’s going on: check rabble.ca for articles and for video of the panel discussion last night (Shout Out for Global Justice with speakers like Naomi Klein and Maude Barlow). What I’ve caught of the CBC‘s coverage has been informative, and the Crowdreel search for #G20 produces a mash-up of Twitter pics for a variety of perspectives. And Steven Beattie’s posted a G20 reading list with a news round-up and apt description of our now “fortress-like police state” of a city here.
If you’re interested in demonstrating: the rally convenes in Queen’s Park at 1 p.m. Various groups are meeting up beforehand to walk over together; the Council of Canadians is meeting at noon at College and University.
Maybe I’ll see you there!