Saturday, June 26, 2010

G8-G20 Protests - Friday, Part 2

The whole thing began at Allan Gardens at 12:30. I rode up, locked my bike, and exchanged greetings with the police who were standing near the entrance. They seemed pleasant - maybe they thought that a simple hello might help win them some favour. So far, though, the cops were looking a little lonely: the reporters at the scene easily outnumbered the "protesters", at this point a handful of 20-somethings, most of whom appeared to refuse to discuss matters with the media. Was this due to a deep-seated distrust of the established media? Was this because the reporters asked "hard-hitting" questions, like the one reporter who asked a protester with a "For Sale: G20 ₤€ader$" sign whether he was opposed to the actual meeting or their particular agenda? Whatever the reason, those around decided to save their voices for the street. Who knows. The sign-bearer in particular seemed uncomfortable with the reporter's pretty tame line of questioning. Maybe he was just more comfortable parroting slogans than answering actual questions.

A park local, clutching his 1L bottle of Labatt Ice seemed to have taken issue with the slow but stead trickle of protesters. Clearly their struggle against capitalism, their championing of the poor was lost on this individual, who appears to have the unfortunate experience of actually being a have-not. A useful police-woman biked over and consoled him, while gently removing his bottle. Maybe he just wanted someone to listen to him. Soon enough he was enlisted into the cause, and was handing out leaflets for gatherings (one for women only) at the feminist circle which, at 1PM, composed the totality of anti-G20 activity. Not to worry, though, there was more to come.

A man with his arm in a sling came by on his scooter and spoke to anyone who would listen. He claims that his disability prevented him from leashing his dog, and that when he went to the human rights board they turned him over to the cops, who dragged him down to the Don Jail and horribly beat him. It was a sad story of police brutality, and his obvious suffering was hard to bear. His suspiciously porous narrative and obvious screw loose didn't gain him the total sympathy he might otherwise have deserved, though; somehow Royal Bank is involved in this as well - I'm not sure how. He also is not afraid to die, since he was dead for a bit, saw Jesus, and came back. I'm glad he's got at least that going for him.

I wandered off site then back again an hour later, around 2PM. Apparently police where demanding to check people's bags who were entering into the park and were confiscating gas masks. For "security", of course. This is, of course, entirely illegal - there are no such laws in place in Canada for any public places outside of the fence that require people to consent to personal searches on the mere suspicion of having a backpack and being dressed somewhat in black. You don't even need to show police your ID. Reportedly, one individual stood his ground, and was supported by the growing crowd in this endeavor. The police backed off. I'd say "one point for civil liberties", but I'm not convinced keeping score would be very encouraging.

The time was drawing near and people began preparing for the march. The feminists, who had started the whole get-together had painted created three coffins - one in white symbolizing violence against women ("He though that once I said yes, I couldn't say NO."), one in red, covered with coat hangers symbolizing women who died from unsafe abortions ("SHAME"), and one draped in rainbow-coloured flags, representing all the trans-people unfortunate enough to have been born in times and places where being themselves was not an option. I though about Alan Turing, the computer pioneer who was chemically castrated by the UK for his homosexuality and omitted suicide shortly after. Point made, I suppose.

There were a handful of t-shirt vendors, communists/socialists handing our pamphlets and multi-lingual literature (mostly criticizing Israel, the demon-de-jour - I suspect the communist interest in Israel is not because of its deeds, which isn't as relevant to their global anti-capitalist agenda as, say, Wall Street, but because it's the most fashionable thing to protest these days), a (the?) guy from (he's committed to spreading unions through music and rock venues, and claims to be super-successful at it - easily my favourite guy in the park), and meal-servers, who provided me some of the most delicious free food I've ever had. There were feminist singers, communist changers, and an anarchist marching band. Hell, there was even a lone dissenter, proudly sporting a black t-shirt saying "Hey ANARCHISTS ANALKISSTHIS!", sporting a green sign with with personalized "fuck off" messages for several organizations (including CUPE - the union of which I'm a part of). There were anarchists in black, communists in red, and a guy in a pink pig suit with a white-collar office-worker of sorts shoved up his ass. And there were photographers. Tons of photographers. Armed with cameras better than my own and audio recorders which far surpassed my $40 factory-direct mail-in-rebate-special, I felt a little outclassed. But there was no time to cry over my (borrowed) point-and-shoot: the march was starting and it didn't appear to be t waiting for me to acquire an SLR.

No comments:

Post a Comment