G20: A Perfect Storm

Posted on Jun 28, 2010

I have been mired in conflicting thoughts and feelings as I watched the G20 coverage this weekend from a distance. Photos and videos of alleged police brutality. Reports of riots, burning cars, and damaged property. On the one hand I sympathised with the peaceful protestors and bystanders caught up in the action. And on the other hand I was appalled by the riots and violence. But never was never surprised by any of it.

The week before the protest I attended the Iggy Pop concert in Dundas Square. At the show someone handed me a flyer advertising a protest march on the last weekend of the G20 summit. It was a call to action to end oppression and take back the streets. I glanced around the square. There was no sign of law enforcement or military personel patrolling the area. No political propaganda anywhere to be seen. And Iggy Pop was up there on the stage screaming and shouting any damn thing he wanted to into the microphone. I really didn’t feel oppressed at that moment. I was actually rather annoyed.

A week later and the inevitable topic of all conversations were the riots and protests happening downtown. All the media feeds were polluted with reports of riots and police brutality. Funny pictures of onlookers holding up ironic signs trickled into my inbox. Opinions and speculations began to fly.

The sad thing is that all of the chaos, confusion, and animosity was pointless. The majority of the people present were there to get it all on camera. Or twitter. Or facebook. If there were any real protests, they were largely ignored by the media and drowned out by thrill-seeking revelers without a real political message. Worst of all, the people on the other side of the fence had far more pressing matters to concern themselves with.

So I just want to give a big congratulations to all the rioters. Thank you for destroying property and harming the livelihood of innocent people. You really made an impression on the leaders of the world and I think they may reconsider their professions now. The world can finally be rid of corrupt governments and corporations and move on to a new utopian age. We have only you to thank.

I’d also like to recognize the police officers. Many of you were just doing your job and could think of a thousand things you’d rather be doing than standing around in hot riot gear listening to a bunch of assholes who came looking for trouble call you out. I’d also like to point out that many of you or your commanding officers might have lost their shit and crossed the line. I hope that you’ll seriously look into allegations of brutality and deal with it. It’s not an easy job, but someone has to do it.

And to the onlookers, gawkers, and thrill-seekers: next time, stay home. The police weren’t kidding when they advised people to stay home and keep out of the downtown core during the summit in the weeks leading up to it. You willingly walked into a hostile situation and got caught in the events. I’d say that’s a pretty stupid idea. You should have known the consequences going in.

To the truly innocent people who suffered being caught in the conflageration: I’m sorry you had to go through that. You just happened to live or work in the area and wanted nothing to do with what was going on. Instead you got served. No good.

I’m just glad that it is finally over. Now we can kick back and read all the opinion pieces and articles dissecting the events. Life in Toronto is slowly returning to normal and there’s nothing to do but wait and watch the fallout. I wonder if any of what happened will have an effect on the future. Only time will tell I guess.