Monday, 28 June 2010

My Town Monday - Toronto

My idea of a peaceful demonstration is not what happened in Toronto this weekend during the G20 Summit. I attended many peaceful demonstrations during the late 1960s. As a teenager I saw the grim realities of the Vietnam War broadcast every evening on the six o’clock news. A permit was obtained and concerned citizens protesting this war gathered before specific government buildings where our concerns could be seen and heard. Of course, anyone who attends any demonstration is photographed by the police for future reference and investigation.

It was appalling as to what occurred this weekend in Toronto with the many who attended for peaceful demonstrations, those who went to watch and report the events, and those who intended to wreck havoc upon those who represented authority: the police, banks, American franchised stores and businesses.





When there is civil unrest or unlawful activity in progress, the police are entitled to use as much force as necessary to stop those parties engaged in such activity. On Saturday I didn’t see much in the way of the police hampering the unlawful assembly of the supposed ‘anarchists’ and thugs dressed in black complete with hoods, masks and gloves to hide their identity while they engaged in damaging property. In fact, they allowed many of their police cars (7) to be burned to a crisp.




In essence, because of the liberal civil rights citizens have in this country, those demonstrators and agitators who attended in the financial district, Yonge, Dundas and Queen Streets, Spadina and Queen Streets of downtown Toronto were allowed to do what they did. The police did very little to quell the riots though they did protect the G20 attendees in their ‘fortressed area’. The police were entitled under the Criminal Code of Canada (“CCC”) (s.32(1)) to suppress a riot with as much force as they believe necessary. This section of the act also applies to citizens (s.32(4)) who witness or believe serious mischief will result in a riot or an ongoing riot. Citizens or witnesses can hold the offending party until a peace officer is available. The police in attendance on Saturday did not suppress the riots. On Sunday the police took action in rounding up protestors in various locations throughout the downtown area including those who happened to be in the crowd.

All citizens of Canada are expected to uphold the law and are bound by the articles in the CCC. These laws also apply to non-Canadians who reside here. The definitions for unlawful assembly (s.63) and riot (s.64) include those people participating in a lawful assembly who are incited by others to engage in a riot that “disturb the peace tumultuously”.

There are parties to an offense: those who commit it, those who aid, those who know about the offense but fail to do anything about it, combined with a common intention while knowing that to do so is unlawful; those who counsel another person to be a party (procure, solicit, incite). That is, those who committed the damage to private, municipal and government property have committed an offense, as have those who witnessed such offenses. Why did those in attendance who witnessed the unlawful acts do nothing to stop it? That would include bystanders, those protestors engaged in a lawful assembly, emergency service personnel and news reporters.

Those protestors that were rounded up and arrested on Sunday will allege there was police brutality including unwarranted treatment, and the lawyers they obtain to represent them will say the same. It’s amazing what people will do and say to avoid responsibility of their actions during a riot or unlawful assembly or anything unlawful.

It will be interesting to see if and when our liberal civil rights in Canada are taken away from us because of the apathy of its citizens.

The next G8 Summit is in France. I’m quite certain the French President knows exactly how to handle protestors who riot and at less cost.

For other participants for My Town Monday go here.

UPDATE: Those people who were arrested, detained and charged after the sweeps and confrontations made by the police were as the result of the enforcement of the Public Works Protection Act (1990), with Schedule I Ontario Regulations 233/10 being amended June 2, 2010 and published on the Ontario e-laws website on June 16, 2010. This Act was first enacted on September 22, 1939 shortly after the British Empire declared war on Germany. It is an obscure Act that is still in force, usually referring to hydro-electric stations and courthouses. An amendment was passed to cover the period June 14 to June 28, 2010 specifically for the G20 Summit meant as a preventative to protect the leaders, the public, the protestors and the police. Having the G20 Summit in Toronto was expected to attract a criminal element to the city as has occurred in other cities around the globe.

Two weeks ago I heard on the radio that anyone wanting to go near the security fence close to the area where the G20 Summit was being held would be expected to produce ID and a reason for being in that location to a police officer when requested. Also, if the person was requested by a police officer to leave the area they would be required to do so or face arrest. This was repeated daily and on numerous occasions throughout the day on the classical station I listen to. It's not as if this was a new law suddenly enacted at the last minute as if underhanded. I recall reading or hearing about this when it was first known that Toronto would be holding the G20 Summit, that security would need to be increased and that was some time ago.


Photos borrowed from Reuters News Service.

24 comments:

Barrie said...

I was wondering if this might be the topic of your MTM. How appalling. And sad. It seems so unCanadian. It really does seem as though the vandals were there to wreak havoc and weren't concerned about protesting any true issues. (Welcome back to My Town Monday, BTW)

Reader Wil said...

You are absolutely right! This is not the proper way to demonstrate against something. In the seventies we demonstrated against the nucleair arms and it was always peaceful.

RuneE said...

It is a pity that necessary demonstrations shall be destroyed by parties that are present just for wrecking havoc and not for supporting the issue at hand. One sees the same at may other occasions, from sports to celebrations. A discussion of the limits of freedom of speech compared to the role of the authorities is difficult but necessary.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

I am always wondering why these meetings do not occur on distant island resorts...

Leah J. Utas said...

It was hard to believe this was happening in Canada.

Teresa said...

Thanks for sharing, Barbara. It's terrible what happened.

Clare2e said...

What I dislike is that when there's violence at these kinds of protests, ostensibly against oppression in some financial or politico-social form, the mayhem is invariably and unfairly oppressive to the everyday, local citizens who have to pay for and deal with the ugly aftermath. How exactly does that further any noble aims of claiming to speak for the"little guy?"

Travis Erwin said...

Cliche as it is it truly does only take a few bad apples to ruin the bunch.

Reb said...

I find it appalling that they did such damage to property. How did that in anyway affect the G20 summit? What were the cyclists (and some other groups) demanding more rights doing at the G20 summit? If you have a cause you want to protest for, do it at the right time and place, don't just jump on any bandwagon going by.

Barbara Martin said...

Barrie, it was a topic that needed to be discussed.

Wil, when the demonstrations are peaceful they are more likely to produce the proper response from the government.

RuneE, unfortunately the police are always seen as an offending party when, in truth, they are trying to protect the public from harm. If a person doesn't adhere to the rules then there are consequences.

Barbara Martin said...

Gary, I agree. I heard some of the spouses of the leaders desired to do shopping and sightseeing in Toronto.

Leah, Toronto is not as pristine and good as some people think. There is a considerable amount of crime here with several neighbourhood residents firing weapons during the night: especially in the Jane and Finch area.

Teresa, I was shocked when I saw the police had abandoned their burning vehicles. Though I later heard they did so out of self-preservation as they were outnumbered at those locations. Better to sacrifice the vehicle than their person.

Barbara Martin said...

Clare, excellent comment. A man who works at a low income job in downtown Toronto, left work at a restaurant and was scooped up by the police and arrested for being in a group of violent persons.

The Toronto Mayor is asking Ottawa to help with the expense of cleaning up the damage, but Ottawa is hedging. Most of the damage that occurred was due to riots, which is not covered under most insurance policies. It looks like the residents of Toronto will be paying for it.

Travis, those bad applies 'incited' others in the crowd to wilfully damage private property. I imagine most of them wondered what it would be like to commit a crime with the hopes of getting away with it.

Reb, I didn't pay much attention to the demonstrators except when they accused the police of brutality. It seems there are those who fail in communication. When told to move back, the demonstrators refused...and were then arrested. Much to the dismay of the remainder of the crowd and heckling from the news reporters.

Myself, I find letter writing works well when I feel like protesting.

Richard Levangie said...

As someone who lived in Halifax during the 1995 G8, it seems to me that every decision taken about hosting this one has been the wrong decision. True, the world has changed, but without the huge barricades and overwhelming police presence, we had world leaders stopping their cars and getting out to shake hands, to chat with people. I was just walking through my downtown neighborhood when the Clintons drove by and waved to me.

Fifteen years later, I don't recognize what's happening in my country.

I like protests to be peaceful. I don't have much use for violence and hooliganism. But surely spending $1.2 billion on security for three days in June is just throwing down the gauntlet — a self-fulfilling prophecy.

laughingwolf said...

the demonstrations are ongoing, a march planned from the cop shop to queens park... last i heard :(

Bernita said...

Excellent post, Barbara!

Barbara Martin said...

Richard, times are indeed changing. Whether for good or bad only time will tell.

LW, demonstrations are fine provided they get the message across to have laws changed. Those working in the downtown area of Toronto tend to find them a nuisance.

Bernita, thank you.

Erik Donald France said...

My God, I've walked through where those photos are -- reminds me of Chicago when I was a little kid, scary stuff. Days of Rage, Weather Underground later . . . without the baton swinging police . . . weird all around . . .

Barbara Martin said...

Erik, welcome.

The violence during the G20 Summit took most by surprise who watched the news. The police tend to restrain themselves in Toronto as the special interest groups cry 'foul' at the least little thing. With the wide sweep and roundup on Sunday many people found themselves on the wrong side of the law for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Guilt by association is a rude wake-up call. Scarey times indeed.

Barbara Martin said...

A single father from Pickering who jumped on the police car in the photo had been arrested, detained and charged had his $4,500 bail denied by the Crown prosecutor. He had blamed the mobs' actions even after admitting to jumping on the car, trying to take one of the doors off, and stealing a police helmut and jacket.

Rick said...

Barbara, this is a marvelously well written, thoughtful piece. Very impressive and thought provoking!

67 Not Out (Mike Perry) said...

I'm all for peaceful demonstrations, it's a right that mustn't be hampered.

The problem with violent demonstrations is that they can end up restricting certain freedoms, perhaps those of people going about their everyday business.

Richard Levangie said...

Barbara... you made me laugh. Your comment to me was so diplomatic. :-)

Gabriele Goldstone said...

Crowd mentality can be frightening. It's a wake-up call to all of us Cdns. We're not any different than any other place in this world. Unfortunately.

Thanks for the up-close view.

Texanne said...

I just saw this post. It's a thoughtful, well-written one. Those violent protesters are not protesting anything. They are pushing at the government in the hopes of damaging our civil rights.

My big question is: Have the world leaders never heard of teleconferencing? Or, doing this on a ship far out at sea? Save wear and tear on everyone.