'I can't even describe it in words'
Toronto G20 Protests: By the Minute
by Gwalgen Geordie Dent →Canadian Foreign Policy, →Toronto News
Illegal Search and Arrest PHOTO Nadim
I'm late. Throngs of protesters moving South on Queen. There's thousands of people here. Unconfirmed reports that people have been detained from Queen's Park before the march even began.
A damn fool is risking 'death by yoga' at University and Queen. We just passed by the heavily fortified US consulate at University and Armoury. There are hundreds of groups here including many of the big names: Canadian Labour Congress, Amnesty, a couple COmmunist Parties, the UFCW, Greenpeace, CUPE and a host of other smaller groups. It's amazing: there's well above 10,000 people here. The largest previous G8 protest in North America was 3,000 people.
Me and a couple of Alternative Media Centre folks run up ahead to try to get to the front of the march. This involves running full tilt from University Av. to Spadina Av. through the huge swaths of people. We don't even come close the the front of the march. We pass the a group of protesters employing the Black Bloc tactic. They are protesting peacefully. The police are halting any movement to the South of Queen St. by long lines of cops blocking each street with huge presence of police in the background.
Protesters are breaking off towards the fence at Spadina and Queen. CUPE 1005 Steelworkers are one of the first groups to approach the riot line and confront police. Thousands of others turn toward the police lines and an immediate stalemate. Marimba bands and various groups show up.
Montreal riot police show up. Protesters are throwing flowers at police while the Black Bloc'ers have come and gone without a fuss. Someone lights a flare creating a lot of smoke and confusing atmosphere. The police just used tear gas.
People are reporting clashes with police back towards University. A protester is sporting an arm brace from getting batoned by a cop. Other protesters are reporting beatings from police. One man had a serious head injury and a lot of blood loss from police beating him over the head.
I start walking back towards Universtiy on Queen but am stopped by a riot line of police protecting a smashed in cop car about 50 meters from Spadina. Seems like someone has run amok. There's every kind of police here today. RCMP, Toronto Police, York Police, Peel Police, and a couple of other cop patches including one that says "POU". The police are holding tasers and have pepper sprayed people. Someone teels me there is a fire downtown and I steathly make my way through the line.
I'm a little taken aback. Targetted vandalism is visable all along Queen and Toronto has erupted into chaos. Starbucks, Nike, Scotiabank, TD, BMO, CIBC, Royal Bank all got the brunt of some window smashing and spray-paint. Not sure if the Canadian banks $125 Billion bailout will cover it. I'm also hearing reports that the fire was actually a torched police cruiser . Reports later claim that a number of business have been hit including an American Apparel, a Pizza-Pizza, a Tim Hortons and some small businesses. There are small bands of protesters EVERYWHERE and handfuls of 100-200 are challenging police at various spots. No signs of any protester violence.
King and Bay. The so-called 'burnt out cop car' is being shielded by cops so I choose another route to get a closer look. I hit another police wall before the cops start moving in on protesters and pushing them back. So I go through a shortcut! I make sure to thank the police several times for assaulting several people, 100's of illegal detentions and searches and for punching one of my colleges in the face yesterday. Twice. As a single guy with a press pass, I move through some nooks and crannies easily. I somehow end up on the other side of both riot lines.
Well it turns out the report of a burnt and destroyed car was not exactly true. There were 2 cars burnt and 4 were destroyed. The cars are totalled and the BMO, Scotiabank and CIBC nearby have been vandalized.
It's like night and day down here. I'm on the other side of the police lines and can see bedlam and clashing between bands of police and protesters on many streets North of here. South is quiet and relaxed. Many delegate drivers are milling about. The G20 leaders are living in peace behind their castle walls. The centre of the financial district is eeringly ominous and still after what I've already seen.
I'm heading North on University with a newly found media partner. A man is walking South. He has a small stick (the size of a drumstick), a bell that he's hitting and a bag. A police officer confronts him but he keeps walking. The police officer (TPS Constable #2256) starts demanding things and pushing him around saying that he's going to lose his bag. The man doesn't say a word to him and tries to ignore him and keeps picking up his things which the cop keeps throwing on the ground. The officer has not charged him with anything or recieved his consent to search his bag (this is commonly known as 'police breaking the law'). As the man continues to be uncooperative, the cop throws him to the ground, sits on his back and arrests him. I ask repeated times what he is charged with and the police officer tells me "this doesn't concern you."
Trying to get back to my bike and instead run into 100's of riot police marching and several other Alternative Media Centre journalists. Another standoff with police. The Downtown core resembles a decentralized and unfocused riot. We again thank the police numerous times for for assaulting several people, 100's of illegal detentions and searches and for punching one of my colleges in the face yesterday. Twice.
We head up to Queens park seeing sporadic vandalism along the way. Lots of vandalism but no protester violence to speak of. Protesters are not attacking or using force with police in any way.
Queen's Park, the 'designated' protest zone has turned into a war zone. I'm there about 10 minutes; enough to see police viciously grabbing peaceful protesters, most of them sitting on the pavement and arrsting them. A staunch standoff occurs with police running out to grab heckling protesters every 30 seconds, advancing to push protesters back and shooting them with hundreds of gaseous tear gas pellets and rubber bullets. A number of these protesters have not confronted police at all today and many of them were not protesting. Hundreds of protesters are being pushed back.
I snake through the University of Toronto to find my bike.
Back at the Alternative Media Centre. We're hearing reports of chaos all over the City. Queen's park protesters are apparently being pushed back and arrested on mass. More reports of rubber bullets and violence against protesters. Updated reports coming in that many organizers have been arrested, searched and detained illegally. Two Alternative Media Centre journalists have been arrested. Chicago Indymedia Centre has been denied entry at the border. Events being planned to help those in jail. Ongoing confontations between police and peaceful protesters.
Got this message from someone who went to Queens Park:
"My mom, me and my brother we were all at Queen's Park and we just got there 30 seconds before they said move. They pushed back all of us with their bikes and pepper sprayed us. They were pushing my mom and me and throwing punches at my brother and they just kept pushing forward and saying "move move move" and not really caring who was there. I have cancer and I kept saying "I have cancer, I have cancer," but they didn't care, they just kept pushing forward.
They just said "move! move!" I didn't provoke anything or say anything. I wasn't protesting, my brother was before, but I was just curious to see what was going on. We didn't have time [to move], we did not have any time to react.
We have to be seen by paramedics and stuff. We're going home soon but we're with paramedics right now. No one from the police talked to us."
Alternative Media Centre story meeting. We've got coverage of everything that happened today. We're hearing rolling updates of a major protest near the security fence with protesters demanding to speak with a leader of the G20. There's also a massive protest at the Novatel hotel. Queen's Park protesters have been crushed with mass arrests. We miss friends and our co-workers who are in jail right now.
Mass arrests of people peacefully protesting at the Novatel hotel. We're hearing 150 people and 70 people still there. More raids, police violence and arrests of Alternative Media Centre people. We send them our love.
Still random pockets of people trying to confront the G20. I head to all night reporting at CKLN, with great interviews, music and analysis.
We're hearing 100's of people rallying on Eastern Av. for jail solidarity are being surrounded by Police.
30 people arrested by police for unlawful assembly. They were told if they left they would not be arrested, but the police lied. Thanks. Police followed and have now arrested a large portion of the rally. A number of them have been processed already. Patrick, one of the protesters, is live on air at CKLN and watching his friends get arrested. Sorry Patrick.
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