Sunday, June 27, 2010

G20 Protests

Well, one of the most historic weekends this city has ever seen is wrapping up here in Toronto. Never have I witnessed first hand so much destruction and chaos.

I started the day on Saturday by checking out Yonge and Dundas Square, hoping to catch a few protesters which may have decided to wander away from the Queen's Park designated area. There were a few there, as well as 4 uniformed cops taking pictures of the protesters. After waiting around for a bit I decided to head along Queen Street West, just south of the protest zone. There, I came across what was clearly a blockade of uniformed police officers preparing to guide the protesters off University Ave to head Westbound on Queen Street. I decided to go a little further west on Queen Street to McCaul Street in font of Scotiabank because all the other media was already set up at University and Queen.

As the protesters first marched down the street, things were quite peaceful. Every group of activists you can think of were there, from Greenpeace, Canadian Auto Workers, and even the Canadian Communist Party. Many of them were surprised by the Riot officers which stood in waiting half a block south of the route. Taking pictures and shouting "Who do you think we are!"

Many of the groups had valid issues, until one group that walked by. Dressed in full black and bandannas covering their faces. The only thing they were chanting was "Whose Streets? OUR STREETS" They were one of the last groups to walk the protest, some running quite quickly giving my camera the finger as they went by. Some trying to block my camera with umbrellas and their hands while I took shots of them. I knew almost right away, if anyone were going to cause trouble, it was them.

The march moved on towards Spadina and I overheard that there were some confrontations a block over at Queen and John. When I arrived, I found the riot police had moved up from half a block down, to right at the intersection. I tried to asking one of them what happened, but they weren't saying a word. About 100 people had stayed behind and were taking pictures of the riot police not knowing when or if they would move.

About 10 minutes went by, when suddenly the riot police all dropped to their knees and started putting on gas masks. This scared the crowd back to the other side of the street. Word then traveled through the crowd that the men in black had turned around and were coming back our way, and they were no longer friendly. Before we knew it, they were on their way. Their numbers had grown dramatically and still chanting "Whose Streets? Our Streets!" As they past, a loud shatter scared the crowd back more. Several of the violent protesters were smashing the windows of the Starbucks many ran, thinking that was the beginning of more. The protesters continued along Queen street. I followed from a safe distance behind, documenting all the windows they had smashed, the walls they had spray painted, and even witnessed them smashing the ATMs outside of the Scotiabank where I first started videotaping the march. This was starting to get ugly.

At University Avenue, 2 CBC vehicles had been vandalized, as well as the Anarchy symbol spray painted on 2 TTC Streetcars. They hit every bank on their way, TD, CIBC and BMO. As I arrived at Queen and Bay Street, smoke can be seen from King and Bay. This was the first police car torched. Many spectators stood in shock. Wondering how it could get this far! As I approached Bay and Adelaide, a second police car was set on fire.

As it turns out, the majority of the damage was caused by a European group called Black-Clad. This group organizes over the internet and is a mix of people mostly in their 20s. They are well known to travel the world to major events with only one thing on their agenda, to cause damage.

The City of Toronto has never seen such damage. Many events have had protest in this city, but they have mostly been peaceful. Was there a way to prevent this? Many protesters were angry about the amount of money spent on security, claiming that is what got them angry. If there was less security, would they not have had a point to prove? Or was this problem inevitable?

Was it wise for Steven Harper to name the Metro Toronto Convention Centre as the location of this summit? Personally, i think it would've made more sense to have the summit in an isolated location, preferably a military base, such as CFB Cold Lake in northern Alberta. Having such an event in a highly dense populated area was a mistake. The question now is, will we learn from this mistake? Will Canada once again hold an event this big in a Major Metropolis? I guess only time will tell.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

SunTV News appears on CTV News Channel

Here is a very interesting discussion between Robert Hurst, President of CTV News and Kory Teneycke, newly appointed head of SunTV News on CTV's Power Play