Why I don’t believe anything I’m told about G20 protests

(Updated with more myths)

I’ve been following the fallout from this G20 summit through Twitter, YouTube and other media over the past few days. I wasn’t there myself, but I have some experience as an observer during protests, so a lot of what I saw and heard was familiar.

The first thing you have to know about large protests – and the police action that comes with it – is that it’s all more of a public relations war than anything else. Neither side is interested in harming the other (permanently), nor do they seriously expect that the other side will listen to reason and compromise. Instead, their shared goal is to convince the court of public opinion that the opposing side is an evil, heartless monster menace and they are the innocent victims (it’s a battle the police tend to win, by the way – as a post-G20 poll shows).

And that wouldn’t be so difficult. All either side has to do to get on the public’s good side is behave. Don’t antagonize, don’t attack, don’t resist, don’t break the law.

The problem with large protests (just about anything large enough to bring out the riot squad) is that while the majority – even the vast majority – do behave during these events, a minority of both sides doesn’t. And those are the ones people focus on. The ones who let their frustrations get the better of them, the ones who think the ends justify the means, or the ones who are just straight-up assholes.

And so, in the days after the G20, both sides have been screaming out half-truths to anyone who will listen, trying their best to exaggerate the extreme actions of the other side while dismissing or rationalizing their own excesses.

Here are a few of those outrageous claims. Some might be true, others not. I don’t know, because it seems everyone who does know the truth is too clouded by their political agendas to speak it properly. But I’m willing to guess the truth lies somewhere between the two sides.

Corporate media ignored the protesters’ demands

I haven’t found much media coverage of what the protesters were actually there to say (though the Globe and Mail did a good job of interviewing various interest groups before the summits). Then again, I haven’t found much independent media coverage of that either – though there is some. The big message I’m getting from the protester side is about the police, as it unfortunately tends to be.

There’s a post at the Toronto Media Co-op about how people should actually look at the G8-G20 magazine and discuss it. The post’s first comment said: “I would discuss the magazine with you but every time I try to read a page I want to vomit.” (Open-minded, no?) Other comments that followed brought the discussion back to police and protesters.

If anything, there’s far too much media coverage of the G20 protests, considering what happened. And that, of course, has to do with the fact that it happened in Toronto. Because so-called national media are based there, anything that happens there suddenly gains more national significance than it would if it had happened in Halifax or Saskatoon.

We have articles from the Toronto Star, Toronto SunNational Post, Globe and Mail, CTV and CBC chronicling the sometimes disturbing claims of peaceful protesters. Can’t get more corporate/mainstream than that.

UPDATE: Craig Silverman has some analysis of this at the Columbia Journalism Review.

Protesters were abused by police

Temporary police holding cell used during G20 summit in Toronto (photo: Toronto Police)

I’ve heard all sorts of exaggerations when it comes to so-called “police brutality” – a shove with a baton to get someone to move will be described as a violent, unprovoked attack on an unarmed person (extra points if they’re frail or pregnant). This protest was no different. The most minor of police jostles becomes a brutal attack in the eyes of the protesters.

A disturbing report from student journalists recounts stories about … well, let’s be honest, it’s more discomfort and inconvenience than it is abuse. But police say everything was on tape, and they’re willing to face any complaint.

In fact, the police later gave a tour to the media of this supposed hell hole that people were taken to after they were arrested. These metal cages doesn’t look particularly appetizing, but they’re jail cells. And when detainees are complaining about the taste of the cheese sandwiches they were given, you have to wonder what kind of treatment they expected.

I’m not defending what the police do. I too have been shoved with a baton and grabbed with a forceful arm. It’s really uncomfortable, and in many cases it hurts. But I would never use the term “brutality” to describe something done to me, and it’s rare to find cases that go beyond scrapes or bruises, even more so when the victim was following police orders and acting peacefully.

This makes me question some of the things said about police action after the arrests. Amy Miller, who calls herself an independent journalist but is clearly on one side of this conflict, said “I was told I was going to be raped“. Maybe she’s right. Maybe a police officer said something that went way too far. Maybe this girl was strangled as she said.

Maybe. But with the clear agenda they have in reporting these events, it’s hard to distinguish between truth and exaggeration.

But before you dismiss it all, consider this opinion piece by TVO’s Steve Paikin, who witnessed the protests first-hand and is hardly a radical anarchist. He didn’t say what the police did was abusive. He didn’t say it was illegal. He didn’t do any amateur legal analysis or use ridiculous hyperbole. But he painted a picture and said the police overstepped their bounds, said they “overreacted” and said the scene was “frightening”.

I’m much more likely to believe a story like that than one that says “OMG police pig storm troopers were illegally assaulting and abusing innocent peaceful protesters and must answer for their war crimes against humanity!!!!” – no matter how many MDs they drag out.

Besides, the real abuse of human rights was the denial of shopping.

Protesters were heavily armed

Toronto police put on an impressive display (a chainsaw? really?) of weapons seized during the protests. Police chief Bill Blair gave this telling quote during the press conference: “No one should be so naïve as to think these people were there for the purpose of lawful protest.”

The message is clear: the protesters were armed, here to cause violence, and we police officers were entirely justified in what we did because of it. It’s only because of us, they say, that Toronto wasn’t destroyed by an angry mob.

But while the press conference was impressive, there’s a few problems with the logic used. The first is that there aren’t enough weapons there to account for all the protesters present at the G20 summit, nor even those 1,000 or so arrested. So clearly some were arrested who were unarmed.

Second, the police definition of “weapon” is very liberal. One person was arrested and faces weapons charges for carrying a Swiss army knife. Other weapons put on display included goggles, bicycle helmets, tennis balls and walkie-talkies, the Globe says.

Finally, many of the weapons put on display were not taken from G20 protesters. That chainsaw? The crossbow? Unrelated, the police admitted. The chain mail? It’s from a guy who was on his way to a live-action role-playing game.

Even what’s left after you dismiss all of these are questionable: “gas masks, cans of spray paint, a replica gun, saws, pocket knives, a staple gun, a drill, a slingshot, chains and handcuffs.” How much damage can you see any of the above doing to a police officer in riot gear? Or to an unarmed dignitary if they do get through?

There were clearly some weapons brought in with the purpose of doing damage at the G20 protests. But it was a small number, and the police were clearly trying to exaggerate it to gain public sympathy.

Undercover cops acted as agents provocateurs

I’ve always found this myth a bit far-fetched. It’s one thing to suggest that undercover police officers have infiltrated activist ranks before and during protests. I expect that to happen. But to take it to the next level and say that those officers are the ones that are causing the violence? That they are the ones setting fire to police cars and breaking windows – all with the support of uniformed officers – just so the police can win a PR war? That the Black Bloc itself is nothing but a creation of police forces, whose broader goal is to give fellow officers an excuse to abuse innocent people and “criminalize dissent”?

It smacks of a conspiracy theory along the lines of the U.S. planning 9/11. And it just doesn’t make any sense. (We’ll set aside for a moment the unlikelihood of a giant conspiracy involving hundreds of people being carried out over and over and no official evidence of it ever leaking to the media).

And if the Black Bloc are nothing but undercover police provocateurs, if the “real protesters never wear masks”, then why do I see banners saying “We are all Black Bloc!” in a sympathy protest in Vancouver? Were those also police agents? And if so, why didn’t they smash anything? Why are people defending the actions of the Black Bloc, even psychoanalyzing them in a sympathetic way?

Video after video on YouTube describes “agents provocateurs”, but at best they show cops in civilian clothing – with no evidence that they damaged anything or provoked anything – or people dressed in black vandalizing property – with no evidence that these people are police officers or being protected by them.

I’d have dismissed such crazy talk entirely had I not known about a protest in Montebello in August 2007.

Shortly afterward, a video went up on YouTube of a union leader convinced that three guys in army boots and bandanas were in fact cops sent to bring an unstable element to the protest. One of the three had a rock in his hand. They stood there quietly, trying not to react. Eventually they moved closer to the line of SQ cops. Despite one of them carrying a rock for no apparent purpose, less than three feet away from riot cops, the SQ did nothing. Not a shove, not a yell.

As the other activists (including some wearing masks) turned on the three guys, they inched closer to the riot cops, and appeared to start a conversation with them. Eventually they pushed – walked, even – behing the SQ line and were taken into custody with no resistance whatsoever.

It was just incredibly suspicious. It became even moreso when a picture surfaced showing the three mysterious men were wearing the same type of boots as the uniformed SQ cops.

Individually, none of these things is proof of anything. Even together, the evidence is circumstantial. I remained unconvinced.

Then the SQ admitted it: They were undercover cops. That guy had no intention of using that rock, the SQ said. Holding it in his hand was just a way of getting behind enemy lines.

Whether they were agents provocateurs is up for debate. But this episode did show that police do go undercover, and do pose as violent protesters. More importantly, it showed me that sometimes the crazy activist conspiracy theorists are right.

The police allowed the Black Bloc to run amok to bolster their PR case

Just like there are those who don’t believe the U.S. organized 9/11 but believe they allowed it to happen, there are those who think the police willingly turned a blind eye to Black Bloc tactics so that they could run to the media and say “look at what our enemies are doing!” – and so they could take out their primal aggressions on peaceful protesters.

A billion dollars was spent on security, with thousands of police officers brought in from all over the country. They had plenty to rough up peaceful protests, but they couldn’t stop a handful of Black Bloc troublemakers from breaking windows of businesses? Why was it up to random citizens to stop the looting?

There are all sorts of reasons why police won’t stop a vandal. Usually it’s because they don’t think they can do so safely, keeping their officers protected. (Their first priority is their own safety, not that of their cars.) But the decision to retreat is usually a result of a lack of manpower, which I can’t imagine could have been the case here. At least not longer than it would take for dozens of riot cops to march a few blocks.

A police review will probably shed some light on how the vandalism and police car fires were allowed to happen (and it’s one of those things that the non-activist public actually wants to know from the police).

But as with the previous conspiracy theory, I just don’t see the motivation. Are we to believe that the police are thugs who take a sick pleasure out of beating up innocent people? That they would orchestrate some massive conspiracy so they could give some kids a few bruises? Or maybe it’s some complicated ruse to increase their budget? If that were the case, you’d think the union would have denounced it by now. Unless, of course, we have to believe that they’re in on it too.

Then again, maybe it is true. A CityNews reporter recounts a police officer saying that the more arrests they made, the more funding they would get. Probably a joke, perhaps an exaggeration, a guess or a misunderstanding of policy, but it makes you wonder.

The police say they’ll find and prosecute the vandals, but it’s hard to see them being very effective after the fact, even if they think they have a case against people like Jaggi Singh.

Protesters protected and supported the Black Bloc

It’s true that part of the way the Black Bloc works is to use the massive crowd of protesters as cover. But even in the videos showing their destructive tactics, you can see people denouncing them. One bystander even took matters into his own hands to stop looting from a broken store window.

While a sympathy protest was held in Vancouver, another one is being organized where they’re not welcome.

There are protesters who support the Black Bloc, who think that the battle against capitalism will someday result in all-out armed revolution and create a new world order. But they’re in the minority.

At the G20, nobody stopped police officers from arresting Black Bloc members. The cops just weren’t there.

That said, protesters, journalists and all those bystanders taking cellphone videos have to understand that they’re part of the problem. Each one forms part of a mob that will dissuade police from rushing in to stop the destruction. Like in any riot, people gawking and taking pictures and video – as well-intentioned as they may be – only encourage more of the same.

Toronto was a police state

Sure, that fence was high, and some officers probably went too far (in many cases bringing out some really strange logic), but comparing Toronto to some middle eastern dictatorship is going a bit far. Real police states don’t protect people even as they’re arresting them.

There are legitimate criticisms of the encroachment on civil liberties that took place during the G20 summit, including unprovoked searches and the confiscation of non-dangerous belongings. But exaggerating this will only serve to push away any public sympathy and have the victims be branded as radicals with no sense of reality.

Putting up a video that shows a police officer saying “this ain’t Canada right now” – now that speaks volumes.

Police targeted Quebecers

It’s a strange claim, but some people are saying that people with Quebec license plates or who spoke French were being harassed by police officers. The first of these claims came from CLAC, the anti-capitalist radicals who support vandalism as a legitimate form of protest, and I think it’s far more likely police were profiling CLAC members because of their political views than because of their province of origin or spoken language. But still, it’s not far-fetched to believe that some police officers let their prejudices get the better of them.

Police targeted journalists

Looking at the videos from the G20 protests, it seems every second person had a camera and was calling themselves an “independent journalists.” In reality, a lot of those people were just activists with blogs.

One of the most high-profile cases is Jesse Rosenfeld, who was described as a journalist with The Guardian. But he’s not. He writes for a section of the Guardian’s website called “Comment is free” – and the Guardian itself describes him as a Canadian “freelance journalist.”

I don’t know what Rosenfeld’s motivations were. Maybe his interest was strictly journalism. Maybe he was out to present an agenda. But he is either misrepresenting himself or being misrepresented as being a class of journalist he’s clearly not.

Don’t get me wrong, independent media is very important, and websites like the Toronto Media Co-op have been very useful in my research here, but to suggest that they present straight news without a political agenda is ridiculous.

The fact that so much footage made it to the Internet – even from some people who had been arrested – suggests the police weren’t exactly trying to shut down journalism (independent or otherwise) on a massive scale.

Male officers performed strip searches on female detainees

The allegations are all over the Internet (along with allegations that police raped and tortured people), but the police deny it. And since the stories all seem to come from the same single report, it’s hard to give it too much credibility.

Police fired on protesters

Saying police “opened fire” gives the incorrect impression that live bullets were used, but otherwise this one appears to be true. I’m sure some context is missing from the above video, but clearly the police made use of nonlethal projectile weapons as a form of crowd control.

They probably think they were justified somehow.

Police did a good job

More than a week after the summit, Toronto City Council voted unanimously to praise the police for their work. This, after an inquiry had been called, but before it had collected any evidence. One councillor – a mayoral candidate – even argued the police were “too nice”.

These motions have no real power. They’re entirely symbolic. But they send the wrong message – that the city is on the side of the police, and the complaints of the protesters are without merit. As much as I’m skeptical about some of the reports made by some protesters, there are too many of them which are too consistent, backed by too much video and photographic evidence to be dismissed outright.

Police are only human, it’s expected some of them should lose their temper like some protesters did

Yes, police are human. It’s understandable that some would let their emotions get the better of them and they go too far. That doesn’t make it right.

Police, especially in situations like this, have to bend over backwards to the point of absurdity to protect the safety and rights of everyone – including the protesters. That’s their job. If anyone steps out of line, they should be punished. If they don’t like it, they shouldn’t be police officers.

Eye for an eye is not acceptable as a police tactic. Protesters will be rude, insulting and uncooperative. It’s mean, and in many cases uncalled for, but unless a law is broken, it’s perfectly legal, and they should be allowed to do it.

It’s not fair. But neither is the fact that police have weapons and protesters don’t. Police must accept more responsibility for their actions.

The amount of arrests is evidence of the nefarious intentions of the protest mob

There were more than 900 arrests made during the G20 summit. It’s the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. Twice as much as were made during the October Crisis – you’ll recall people actually died during that, and even then it was controversial.

But what’s more important than the large number of arrests is the comparatively small number of prosecutions. Most people were released – after hours of detainment in disgusting wire cages – without charges.

There are two reasons this might happen: 1) The charges are so minor that police deem it a waste of time and resources to prosecute them; 2) The charges are so difficult to prove that police don’t believe they’d get a conviction.

In both of these cases, one really should call into question the arrest itself, no?

I’ve seen protest arrests, followed by hours of detainment, where people are released after signing a document waiving their rights (say, by agreeing not to protest under certain conditions). Even though they know they did nothing wrong, and the police have no case, they sign over their rights in exchange for their freedom. It’s wrong, but it keeps repeating itself.

A week after the protest, the number of people still detained – the number facing serious charges – is in the low double digits. Is 900 arrests really justified when only 10-20 did anything the police are seriously prepared to prosecute?

This whole summit could have been done over teleconference

It borders on the absurd, but some are suggesting that in-person conferences among world leaders should be done away with and that everyone should just meet using teleconference systems like Skype.

Aside from missing the point – should major policy be set by the whims of violent protesters? – many experts argue – and I tend to agree – that face-to-face contact between world leaders does make a difference. But, by all means, cut down some of that staff of 500 President Obama brings with him to these things.

Police were given sweeping new powers after laws were secretly passed

Speaking of absurd, there was news just before the G20 began that Ontario lawmakers had secretly passed a law that gave the police the power to detain or even arrest people just for approaching the giant fence separating the G20 from the rest of Toronto.

The media made a big deal of these new police powersPeople were arrested using them. But it turns out the laws people were complaining about never existed, despite the police making everyone think they did. Isn’t it wrong for a police officer to pretend there’s a law that doesn’t exist, and particularly to act on it?

Even the police chief was in on it:

Asked Tuesday if there actually was a five-metre rule given the ministry’s clarification, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair smiled and said, “No, but I was trying to keep the criminals out.”

In other words, he helped to fool everyone. About, you know, the law. Are there also secret parts of the constitution the government is just choosing not to publicize? This is the law, for crying out loud!

The review

Amnesty International is calling for an independent inquiry. The Toronto police have said they would review their procedures, but it sounds more like reviewing their tactics than actually investigating to see if any of them might have crossed the line. There will be an independent investigation, but not a full inquiry. Who knows how detailed it will be.

I think a full inquiry makes sense here, for a number of reasons. First, because of the amount of money involved. A few million dollars on an inquiry seems like a drop in the bucket compared to hundreds of millions spent on security. Saving just a few percent next time would more than compensate for the cost of the inquiry.

Second, this isn’t a one-off, isolated event. This entire production will repeat itself the next time world leaders meet in Canada. The larger issue needs to be explored, with clearer guidelines given to police about how to deal with protesters, and better procedures in place so that peaceful protesters are allowed to demonstrate freely while those who commit criminal acts are found and arrested before they can do any damage to property.

But I have a feeling that even such an inquiry would change little about how police and protesters confront each other. The idea that they could come to a peaceful understanding and just let each other be … well, that’s just another myth.

UPDATE (Sept. 4): The Toronto Star has a look back at the G20, which helps explain a bit about the police and the Black Bloc.

74 thoughts on “Why I don’t believe anything I’m told about G20 protests

  1. Mike Mowbray

    I’m not always with you, but all in all a fine resume of the furor on this. Sh*t, this is what blogging is all about.

    Certainly a lot of stories, but I’m not sure we’re seeing “far too much coverage” of what are, by a substantial margin, the largest mass arrests in Canadian history (and really a lot of reasons to pick on both the minority of cops who actually beat people and otherwise acted inappropriately, and the folks in charge of using the ‘illegal assembly’ excuse to detain people they have no evidence did anything wrong except refusing to get lost). But hey, you’ve got most of those reasons covered, so what the hey.

    Aside from that, I wouldn’t say that police were necessarily trying to shut journalism down at the G20, but your comments (focusing on those complaining not being ‘real’ journalists…a tricky, but not illegitimate point when anyone can be upload content and be an ‘Indy’) are maybe a bit more dismissive of ‘journalists were targeted’ complaints than I’d be comfortable with. You’ve got to be in the middle of something like this to get the whole story (somebody does, anyways), and the real issue is that cops shouldn’t be hassling and locking up people for anything other than actually DOING SOMETHING WRONG. Plenty of ‘real’ ones got it, too. Check out this photo of riot cops taking down the Post’s photog Brett Grundlock:

    http://nationalpostnews.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/60895168.jpg?w=620

    Or Canadian Journalists For Free Expression’s quick, and much-less-than-complete listing of cases:

    http://www.cjfe.org/releases/2010/28062010g20.html

    Rosenfeld, of course (on that list as having been roughed up, easy to verify this elsewhere, too – and he was freelancing for the Guardian), might be a likely candidate to be a bit abrasive with the cops; worth noting that a more recent Dailyite with full press accreditation got some rough treatment too (and wrote a pretty kickin’ story about it for Maisonneuve)…

    http://maisonneuve.org/blog/2010/06/30/where-hells-my-gas-mask-or-how-police-trashed-my-c/

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      The thing that bothers me with journalists getting arrested is this idea that any journalist is entitled to special treatment at a protest. It’s why many activists choose to describe themselves as journalists.

      In reality, they have no more rights than any bystander. Police treating some guy on the street roughly should not be seen as more or less scandalous than police doing the same to a reporter or photographer, whether that person works for the National Post, New York Times or Joe’s Traffic Blog.

      And to be clear, I’m not arguing that people who don’t work for big corporate news outlets are not “real” journalists. I’m arguing that many people who call themselves journalists were practicing a dishonest form of journalism, refusing to keep an open mind.

      Reply
  2. Joe Mason

    It’s a strange claim, but some people are saying that people with Quebec license plates or who spoke French were being harassed by police officers. The first of these claims came from CLAC, the anti-capitalist radicals who support vandalism as a legitimate form of protest, and I think it’s far more likely police were profiling CLAC members because of their political views than because of their province of origin or spoken language. But still, it’s not far-fetched to believe that some police officers let their prejudices get the better of them.

    Well, yeah. I thought that WAS the point of the claim – that the police were targetting people that seemed Quebecois because they assumed everyone from Quebec who was in Toronto that weekend was a radical. How would they identify CLAC members to profile otherwise?

    Reply
  3. emdx

    You have to understand that the mindset of police officers is totally on a different plane than the rest of the population’s. They are totally paranoid about anyone who is not a cop, and will always consider anyone’s actions as always being potentially illegal, in addition of trusting no one at all.

    For taking this picture http://maison.emdx.org/VieilAutobus.jpeg I was suspected of being a terrorist. And cops were verbally aggressive when I kept demanding what law I had broken (a right that is granted by the Charter of Rights). Of course I had broken no law.

    To perform their duties, policemen can (and therefore lie, hence the bullshit about the “special” law in Toronto) lie, however anyone who lies to a cop will risk serious jail time.

    To buttress my point, I invite you to watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc

    It is 48 minutes long, but a 48 minutes well spent, being both instructive and as entertaining as a Yvon Deschamps (sorry, I know no english equivalent) monologue (although it is american, it applies quite a lot to Canada, too). I make a point of watching it every 3-4 months, like one watches a beloved movie again once in a while.

    Cops are drilled to obey orders, just as soldiers. However, unlike soldiers, police officers are a cog of the great machinery of justice, whose sole purpose is to punish. And, being of limited education (and often of limited intelligence, too – by design: see http://www.cartalk.com/content/read-on/1997/06-20-97-1.html ), they will too often put the “punishing” aspect of their jobs ahead, hence their arrogance, bolstered by the fact that they trust no one.

    Now, with regards to media.

    Media are owned, and their owners all too often demand a certain promotion for their agenda. And, all too often, that agenda is seldom beneficial to the population at large. This is also true of State-owned media (such as Radio-Canada/CBC), where when they may cover some stories more fairly than the private media (such as the palestinian ordeal under their zionist oppressors), on other fronts, such as the sovereignty of Québec, “Radio-Cadenas” (“padlock”) really earns it’s nickname.

    Right-wing governments will attempt to control the media so it spews forth their own rhetoric and nothing else. Witness the clampdown the Harper government has put on non-ministerial government officials testifying on governmental committees. And since most media conglomerates have an agenda that is pretty close to the current conservative government’s, they will make sure to follow the line the Government spews forth.

    The very basis of right-wing governments is to instill fear in the population. What better way than to increase the perceived insecurity? Crime has never been so low; 40 years ago, Montréal was the hold-up capital of the world. Who hears about a hold-up nowadays? The fact that crime has steadily been going down will not sit well in the government’s agenda of building more jails (probably run by private corporations, too), so the media will obliginly run scary story in order to scare the people into voting fascist.

    This is exactly how the NASDAP gained power in Germany three quarters of a century ago.

    Harper only wants one thing, a governmental majority, and in their exceedingly simplistic way of thinking, they believe that a billion dollar’s worth of cops charging civilians is going to do the trick.

    As I said before, cops will stretch their (limited) imagination to be able to pin-down crimes on anybody they happen to get their hands on. Like those people charged with concealing a weapon, the “weapon” being a swiss army knife. And brandishing golf balls as weapons! Is that a nostalgia for the Oka crisis of 20 years ago?

    One really has to pause at that billion dollar claimed expenditures… Many police chiefs have come forward to ridicule that amount; Sarkozy, the much-maligned president of France has said that “they’s do it for much cheaper”. It is quite doubtful that that security costed as much; it may be yet another propaganda ploy to paint the world as a much more dangerous place than what it really is.

    The media is just a tool at the hands of the Establishment, and is used to control the people.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Though I don’t disagree with much of what you write here, I don’t think there’s a direct parallel between police actions during the G20 and photographers being harassed for taking pictures. I think the change in mentality comes mainly when cops put on that riot gear, and function as a large group answering to direct orders.

      As for the corporate media being a tool of the establishment, I think I’ve already addressed that. I don’t see how interviewing protesters and writing about their treatment by police is somehow promoting their agenda.

      Reply
      1. Jean Naimard

        Cops don’t act like a unruly mob. They obey orders from the «cheuf». And believe me, the «cheuf» could not care less about your comfort; Police chief Blair is on the record for putting order above law.

        Reply
    2. William Moss

      The legality of the picture depends on where you were standing. If in a bus shelter or in a Tranitway station, then ÕCTranspo Bylaws apply:

      No person shall operate any camera, video recording device, movie camera or any similar device on transit property without the express written permission of the Director.

      Reply
      1. emdx

        Sir, the picture is 375% legit.

        1) I was standing at the corner of Albert and Empress, on the sidewalk, which is not an OC transpo property*. The transit security guards (*NOT* the current special constables – who have absolutely no authority outside of OC Transpo property) had absolutely no standing in demanding identification (nor did I agree to produce any – which led to the subsequent police chase – and the police also had no standing either, as, no infraction had occured, my detainment was illegal **).

        2) If you look at the “City of Ottawa – Transit bylaw 2007-1681” (available at http://www.octranspo1.com/images/files/Transit_By-Law_2007-2681.pdf), you’ll notice that although article 19-2, subsection 6 prohibits (page 11) taking pictures/filming, subsection 7 prohibits those only for commercial use, and my use was certainly not commercial.

        * The house there had rather exuberant bushes that quite spilled-out on the sidewalk. Well, in their brilliant display of stupidity, the security guards wrote in their report that “I was trying to disappear in the bushes”, which sheds quite a lot of light in the way those people will try very hard to make you look bad.

        http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Empress+Avenue,+Ottawa,+Ontario,+Canada&sll=45.508867,-73.554242&sspn=0.705429,0.990143&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Empress+Ave,+Ottawa,+Ontario,+Canada&ll=45.41356,-75.710628&spn=0.011041,0.015471&z=16&layer=c&cbll=45.413688,-75.710717&panoid=bJHua97eIwX6GEmWIpzrlg&cbp=12,189.42,,0,-11.48

        ** Another very interesting thing was that it appears the police tried to cover-this up. When I did my initial complaint about the police quite disgracing demeanor’s, the internal affairs officer could not find anything relating to the time and date and location the altercation occured, even though it took 3 officers for 30 minutes, and one had parked her car smack in the middle of the transitway (just east of Albert @ Bay) during rush-hour, significantly delaying outbound buses for the time, as buses had to avoid the police car right where the street bends during the dense rush-hour traffic. Internal affairs was only able to move forward when I managed to point him to the report by the OC transpo security (which I was able to locate thanks to internal contacts I have there – it is quite telling that the police had not looked there in the first place). This means that anyone without connections with the transit authority would have been SOL in lodging a complaint; the cover-up goes a long way to expose the blatant bad faith of the police in this matter.

        Reply
    3. wkh

      as a relative of three cops, one retired SQ and two serving as Montreal cops, I agree with you entirely.

      Reply
      1. emdx

        – sigh –

        I have an acquaintance who, just like me, likes trains. He eventually became a jail guard, and one day, while we hung out somewhere to watch trains go by (the ildle talk eventually drifted on how some people are totally unfit for life and should be forcibly removed from the known Universe), sitting on CN property (technically, we were tresspassing), a city (not CN) cop car* came by and asked what we did. While I said “we’re watching trains”, he just flashed his badge and I instantly felt bad vibes going through me that clearly meant “that’s a civilian, but I’m okay” which was instantly acknowledged by the city cops who left without a word. This was about 20 years ago, and I should have paid much more attention to that event since then in regards to perception of the “forces of the peace”…

        * I stood plenty of times on that same spot, and CN cops always have been happy to see us there because “the kids don’t fool around on the tracks while you guys are there”…

        Reply
      2. Jean Naimard

        What makes one want to get into the police?

        I used to think that it’s people who wanted to help, but that was a very long time ago.

        Reply
    4. me!

      I would just like to clarify that as interesting as that youtube video is, it has very little application in Canada. The Charter functions on a balance of rights, therefore the right to not self-incriminate in Canada is VERY different from the States.

      Great article Steve!!!!!!! I tried to voice a similar opinion as you, but was immediately shut down, so I gave up within minutes!

      Reply
  4. wkh

    You seem really unwilling to entertain the thought that police aren’t there to serve and protect. They have this HUGE burden of proof for you to be swayed from the assumption Cops Are Good.

    You say you’ve been grabbed and shoved with a baton. Steve, if they’re going to do that to a corporate schmuck white boy like you wtf do you think they’re doing to actual activists? And why on earth would you, of all freaking people, think it would be okay for a law enforcement officer to do that to you? If a cop is grabbing someone like that, it better because the person is suspected of a violent crime and not because the cop wants them to move.

    You say “their first priority is their own safety, not their cars” but isn’t it funny their first priority is not the safety of citizens? Protect and serve, my ass.

    What is your right to decide who is and is not a journalist? You say they have an agenda? Well I think yours is to support straight edge right wing status quo life as we know it-ism. I’m not saying they do not have a bias and agenda. I am saying every media outlet whether an activist with a blog or a “respected, blanced, fair” official marketed journalism outfit has a bias. See it’s just their bias and since they get to define the standard they are normal and everyone else is biased. Sort of like “my kink is okay but not your kink.”

    You say you won’t take Amy Miller at face value yet you seem more than willing to take anything the cops say at face value, although you’re open to being proved wrong. You say the activist crowd is biased but your bias shows in your total unwillingness to believe anything they say without a huge burden of proof. See I’m willing to believe Amy Miller because that’s a tough claim to make and not have anything to back it up. It puts her rep on the line as a drama queen and not a serious journalist if she’s wrong.

    More people were arrested in TO than during the October crisis. Does that even make sense to you?
    I can get with you on the holding conditions –sort of. Fresh water however should have been available at all times. And there should have been much more orderly and prepared facilities for the detainees.

    Now you might think I am all “omg the poor activists.” I’m not. I think they are sharing from their POV and some are being a bit drama-queenish due to being stuck in the middle of it. But do I think the cops are evil? Yes. They suck. Cops are a lying bunch of power tripping dirt bags as a whole and can never be trusted, even against a bunch of whiny activists. I wouldn’t trust a cop to tell the truth about what he ate for breakfast. If they can find a reason to act big tough and important and authoritarian, they WILL. Don’t doubt it for a minute, even if it’s a bunch of whiny activists complaining this time.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      You seem really unwilling to entertain the thought that police aren’t there to serve and protect. They have this HUGE burden of proof for you to be swayed from the assumption Cops Are Good.

      I’m unwilling to entertain the thought that all police officers are inherently evil and want to do evil for no apparent reason other than being evil. I’m not saying police are perfect, I’m saying I doubt they are all out for blood, or were given orders by their superiors to beat up as many protesters as possible.

      And why on earth would you, of all freaking people, think it would be okay for a law enforcement officer to do that to you?

      I don’t think it’s okay. But I don’t think it’s “brutal” to forcibly move someone when they refuse a police officer’s order to move.

      You say “their first priority is their own safety, not their cars” but isn’t it funny their first priority is not the safety of citizens? Protect and serve, my ass.

      I don’t think it’s funny at all. Police have to ensure their own safety first, just like a firefighter or a first responder must put his safety first. If these people can’t do their jobs with a certain minimum amount of safety, then they risk becoming part of the problem.

      That said, if Black Bloc protesters were beating up people instead of cars, I’m sure the police would have taken the extra risk to stop them.

      What is your right to decide who is and is not a journalist?

      It’s my right to think whatever I want. But I don’t distinguish between “journalist” and “not journalist”. To me, the distinction isn’t about the person, but the act. A professional journalist can do things that are not journalism, and an amateur can do something journalistic.

      There was plenty of journalism done by activists. A lot of the video we see from the G20 protests has incredible journalistic value.

      My point is that some of the things said and written by people who called themselves journalists (no doubt to give them an air of credibility) were biased in favour of their agenda.

      I am saying every media outlet whether an activist with a blog or a “respected, blanced, fair” official marketed journalism outfit has a bias.

      Granted. But some outlets are a bit more mature than others, I think. Some are prepared to admit that everything they might think they know could be wrong. Not all, maybe not even most, but some.

      Frankly, my standards in this case are pretty low. A journalist simply asking both sides for comment goes a long way.

      You say you won’t take Amy Miller at face value yet you seem more than willing to take anything the cops say at face value, although you’re open to being proved wrong.

      Perhaps you should read my blog post again. Many of the myths I criticize are those put forward by the police. I’m not taking anything they say at face value.

      See I’m willing to believe Amy Miller because that’s a tough claim to make and not have anything to back it up. It puts her rep on the line as a drama queen and not a serious journalist if she’s wrong.

      Here’s the thing though: I don’t think most of the activists who tell their stories think they’re lying. I think they truly believe what they’re saying, but either because they’re angry or because they want to give their stories a bigger impact they’re willing to embellish them slightly with exaggeration.

      To be clear: I’m not saying I think anyone’s lying. I’m saying I don’t know.

      More people were arrested in TO than during the October crisis. Does that even make sense to you?

      I wasn’t alive during the October Crisis, so I can’t really compare the two. Nor do I think it makes sense to directly compare them. The October Crisis wasn’t a mass protest.

      I agree that 900 arrests is excessive. I’m perfectly willing to believe that the vast majority of those who were taken shouldn’t have been.

      I can get with you on the holding conditions –sort of. Fresh water however should have been available at all times. And there should have been much more orderly and prepared facilities for the detainees.

      Sure. And the police even agree with that. But when you have hundreds of people being arrested at the same time, there are logistical problems that occur. I’m not saying it’s okay, but I think it’s a stretch to call it abuse if that’s how it happened.

      Cops are a lying bunch of power tripping dirt bags as a whole and can never be trusted

      All of them? Every single one?

      Reply
      1. emdx

        Ow. I dunno where to start.

        > I don’t think it’s okay. But I don’t think it’s “brutal” to forcibly move
        > someone when they refuse a police officer’s order to move.

        Is it “brutal” to knock an amputee to the ground, rip-off his artifical leg, and tell him to “hop” so he can move?

        (WARNING: THE FOLLOWING LINK IS NOT AN ESTABLISHMENT MEDIA SO IT MAY BE INACCURATE, NOT BEING VOUCHED BY THE POWERS THAT BE)

        http://www.infowars.com/ontario-amputee-had-artificial-leg-ripped-off-by-police-during-g20-protest/

        > It’s my right to think whatever I want. But I don’t distinguish
        > between “journalist” and “not journalist”. To me, the distinction
        > isn’t about the person, but the act.

        Is “yellow journalism” true journalism? What is more “journalism”, reporting from a radical viewpoint or reporting from a corporate viewpoint?

        >> Cops are a lying bunch of power tripping dirt bags as a
        >> whole and can never be trusted
        > All of them? Every single one?

        I noticed something interesting. While I was treated like shit by cops in Ontario, a similar thing happenned to me right here. I was taking pictures of houses in Mont-Royal, and a city security guard, when not satisfied at my answer to “why are you taking pictures” (“it’s my own business”) sent the cops after me. After a 20 minutes chase, when the cops questionned me, I simply refused to answer any of their questions. I even refused ID when asked (“Am I being arrested or detained? – No. – Then you don’t need to see any ID”), and I was not given a beating but simply let go after they realized they had no reason to pick on me. By contrast, in Ontario, it took them a good half hour to realize that they were total arses and then let me go. (6 months later, I get a call from the RCMP, division of “national security”, and I basically told them, politely, to go pound sand. I never heard anything about it afterwards).

        No doubt that the much more professional demeanor here is due to all cops being required to attend the Police Institute, which was founded some 30 years ago to bring back order to the absolutely horrenduous police of the 60’s and 70’s. Remember the police of the 60’s and 70’s? The police that raided gay bars with machine guns, who gleefully went after Trudeau’s political ennemies in 1970 and who bludgeoned anyone who booed the queen, back in 1964? I am not saying that the cops here are squeaky clean, but they are sure given much better training than in Ontario.

        There is no such thing as a standard police institute in Ontario, and I am absolutely unsurprised that cops in Ontario behaved like a bunch of utter savages. Somewhere it was mentionned that the only cops who had riot training were from Montréal, and I would be surprised if those were responsible for the worst abuses.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          (WARNING: THE FOLLOWING LINK IS NOT AN ESTABLISHMENT MEDIA SO IT MAY BE INACCURATE, NOT BEING VOUCHED BY THE POWERS THAT BE)

          My issue with the above story isn’t that it’s “not an establishment media”, it’s that it appears to make no attempt to get the other side of the story. There’s no quote from Toronto police, nor any mention of an attempt to contact them. Did they even try to verify his story?

          What is more “journalism”, reporting from a radical viewpoint or reporting from a corporate viewpoint?

          You can’t make a blanket statement either way. The problem isn’t the viewpoint, the issue is how the journalism is done. I want to read a story that’s written in a way that isn’t actively promoting an agenda. That means I don’t trust Infowars.com, but it also means I don’t trust the Fraser Institute.

          Reply
          1. ck

            You only accept stories from corporate media; here’s one; from Nat Po regarding Mr Pruyn, the amputee who had his prosthetic leg ripped from his body.

            http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/police+yanked+prosthetic+amputee/3243287/story.html &

            http://www.cbc.ca/politics/story/2010/07/07/g20-summit-police-protester-pruyn.html

            Complete with picture of him being dragged.

            There is no excuse and no ‘other side’; no justification to the way this poor man has been treated.

            You can also read about his paralyzed cell mate who had to live in his soiled pants because he couldn’t get help to the toilet.

            I’m sure that disabled criminals are treated with more dignity than that. I know that prisons are adapted to their needs.

            Reply
      2. wkh

        Steve, I know you as a very dear friend, one of my longest and closest no matter how often we talk. And the idea you’d think it was anything less than an assault for a pig to touch you like that, ANYONE to touch you like that, makes me MEGA SAD.

        That is all I have to say. I won’t fight with you on your blog; we know one another too well for that, but man you should never suffer through that. Like the day I found you with red eyes after being tear gassed after Netenyahu? Yeah. Not cool. You should stand up for your rights more.

        xo

        -w-

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          I didn’t say it wasn’t assault. I said it wasn’t “brutality”. There’s a difference.

          And they never used tear gas during the Netanyahu protest. It was pepper spray.

          Reply
      3. Jean Naimard

        Wow, we have a doozy, here.

        I’m not saying police are perfect, I’m saying I doubt they are all out for blood, or were given orders by their superiors to beat up as many protesters as possible.

        When the police puts order above the law, beatings will occur.

        But I don’t think it’s "brutal" to forcibly move someone when they refuse a police officer’s order to move.

        What standing has the police to order someone to move?

        My point is that some of the things said and written by people who called themselves journalists (no doubt to give them an air of credibility) were biased in favour of their agenda.

        And professional reporters working for “real” corporate media are not biased towards the agenda of the “owner of the press”???

        I wasn’t alive during the October Crisis, so I can’t really compare the two. Nor do I think it makes sense to directly compare them. The October Crisis wasn’t a mass protest.

        No, it was a mass attack of state terrorism performed by a colonial state towards a colony in order to beat it into submission by focusing on particular ennemies of canadian federalism. The FLQ was heavily infiltrated by the RCMP, and it conveniently kidnapped the mob minister hours before he would have been indicted for racketeering. Why do you think Pierre Laporte was reportedly so nervous during his captivity? Because he never was sure he was not kidnapped by the mob. Turns out his killing was quite a relief for the newly minted Bourassa government (who would eventually become the most hated government ever in Québec History).

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          What standing has the police to order someone to move?

          Beats me. Maybe none. My point isn’t that it’s justified, it’s that it isn’t “brutal”.

          And professional reporters working for “real” corporate media are not biased towards the agenda of the “owner of the press”???

          Depends on the reporter and the media outlet in question. I won’t generalize either way.

          No, it was a mass attack of state terrorism performed by a colonial state towards a colony in order to beat it into submission by focusing on particular ennemies of canadian federalism.

          Go ahead and explain that to someone on the street and see how far you get with such a loaded argument. Be sure to throw in your conspiracy theory about Pierre Laporte.

          Reply
  5. Tim

    Hi Steve,

    Intersting post and you raise some solid points. I agree that it’s easy for things to get blurry. A couple points though:

    As far as the police targetting Quebeckers, not sure if you saw this but McGill law student Jesse Gutman spoke to CBC about it in ‘G20 officer admitted targeting Quebecers: student’ http://www.cbc.ca/politics/story/2010/07/03/tor-g20-police-quebecers-targeting-accusations.html, and he’s definitely not part of CLAC. An entire bus load of folks heading out to Toronto back to Quebec City was also stopped, searched, and four people detained, and 70 mostly from Quebec we rounded up when cops raided the U of T Grad Students Association gymnasium where they had let people sleep.

    I was in Toronto for two weeks helping to set up and run the Alternative Media Centre that the TMC and lots of others were working out of, and you’re right that there independent journalists are more independent in the unaffiliated or not working for corporate media sense than independent in the ‘i am completely objective’ sense. But the discussion of objectivity is a long one that we can get into another time (maybe). But I wanted to point out that people like Amy Miller, Lacy, Jesse Rosenfeld and Adam MacIsaac (http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/story/g20-profile-independent-journalist-daniel-adam-macisaac/4056), while they may define themselves as activists, were all stopped while covering/reporting on police detainment and harassment of non-voilnet folks (Amy and Daniel of police searches of people walking along the street, Jesse at the Novotel Hotel Rally, Lacy in the jail solidarity crowd across from the Film Studios Prison).

    There were others at the AMC who held both hats, and who were arrested while protesting, and we’ve made sure to make that distinction when talking about which journalists were allegedly detained, harassed or assaulted. But there were enough reports of police breaking cameras, losing peoples equipment or erasing data that I’m confident in saying that there was at least some targetting of people documenting police actions, whether you would call them journalists or not.

    And I can’t necessarily speak for them, but several are launching a joint complaint, and I think they would tell you that far from thinking journalists should have special privileges, the point is that police targeted those who were capturing questionable actions on their behalf on video, audio, stills or even just written down. Here’s a piece on the lawsuit: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Four+journalists+file+allegations+mistreatment+officers+police+watchdog/3223580/story.html

    Reply
    1. emdx

      > An entire bus load of folks heading out to Toronto back
      > to Quebec City was also stopped, searched, and four
      > people detained, and 70 mostly from Quebec we rounded
      > up when cops raided the U of T Grad Students Association
      > gymnasium where they had let people sleep.

      Now this is a good one. Did the cops have a search warrant to go inside the gymnasium? If not, this is extremely serious. Likewise, when the bus was stopped, the cops had absolutely no right whatsoever to demand identification from any of the passengers on board, and they had every right to refuse to comply, unless the cops clearly stated for what reason they were detained.

      And if you look in the Québec penal code: http://www.canlii.org/en/qc/laws/stat/rsq-c-c-25.1/latest/rsq-c-c-25.1.html

      article 73 clearly states that “A person may refuse to give his name and address or further information to confirm their accuracy so long as he is not informed of the offence alleged against him.”. Furthermore, article 82 clearly states that “A peace officer who makes an arrest shall declare his name and quality to the person he is arresting and inform him of the grounds for his arrest.”

      Since this covers something that is addressed in the canadian charter of rights, there must be some similar provision in Ontario.

      I would not be surprised that the organizers who chartered the bus would have a very good case against the police.

      Reply
  6. Maria Gatti

    This is the most reactionary thing you have ever written. I have zero sympathy for the Blac Bloc, whether they were police plants, would-be revolutionaries who believe in the “propaganda of the deed” or spoilt arstles who get their kicks out of trashing things. Probably all three apply.

    But 900 arrests, more than the October Crisis? And people targeted for speaking French? That is … er … anglo racism.

    As for the “food and water” complaints, it wasn’t a question of gastronomy, but of health.

    I’m very sad that you have fallen so far into the corporate mindset at such a young age, though it will mean you will probably make more money than me.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      As for the “food and water” complaints, it wasn’t a question of gastronomy, but of health.

      I suppose some protesters might have been lactose intolerant or something. I’m not sure what the procedure is for feeding prisoners, but I just don’t see how it can be qualified as abuse to feed people cheese sandwiches.

      I’m very sad that you have fallen so far into the corporate mindset at such a young age, though it will mean you will probably make more money than me.

      How have I fallen “so far into the corporate mindset”? Should I not be skeptical of the self-serving stories being offered up by police and protesters?

      Reply
    2. me!

      I’m the opposite! I like the Black Block because they own up to what happens at protests and don’t bitch when they are arrested.

      But I do dislike protesters who know there’s a real chance they will get arrested at a G-20 and then bitch about it after as if they are surprised.

      Reply
  7. Richard Eng

    It’s nice to see someone taking a fair and balanced approach to analysing the G20 circus that came to town.

    Many people seem to forget that the police are people too, and were there doing their job. And as human beings, they are just as susceptible to the emotional influence of being in a large group, facing another, opposing larger group. Anyone who has participated in team sports or at concerts know that atmosphere and the attitude of those around you can influence your emotional state and cause you to do things you wouldn’t normally do independently (good or bad).

    As for journalists, they are citizens like everyone else and are governed under the same set of laws.

    The internet seems to have a knack for giving a voice to anyone with a bone to pick, but I’m glad my views on this matter are shared by another.

    P.S. future reference for any successive commentators: I am a racial minority, 21 years old, and a full time student paying his own way through university at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Think about that for a second before you call me a corporate sellout too.

    Reply
  8. Maria Gatti

    Well, Richard Eng is correct about one thing: I shouldn’t assume that the reason for this strange post downplaying unprecedented mass arrests (in almost all cases, of nonviolent protesters, and bystanders) is careerism. That is thinking back too much to certain media people I know personally who made it by selling out their colleagues… I have no reason to assume that is Steve’s motivation here.

    It is odd to downplay the arrest of some 900 people to such an extent that it is just a matter of “conflicting narratives”.

    Once again, no sympathy whatsoever for the Black Bloc, who do protest movements great harm. And I certainly don’t think police officers are “evil”, though they do play a certain role in society, usually protecting the (more valuable) property of those better off. Just try getting them to take one’s stolen bicycle seriously is adequate evidence of that, or more sternly, the role police play during labour conflicts. Of course they are human beings, and fallible. I don’t want to “off” them, but there should be strict third-party reviews and controls of their behaviour.

    Richard, I’m not calling you a corporate sellout, but nothing in your self-description would preclude that. Lots of corporate sellouts are female, from racial minorities, from working-class backgrounds or what have you. It is a matter of the choices they make in life.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      It is odd to downplay the arrest of some 900 people to such an extent that it is just a matter of “conflicting narratives”.

      I don’t remember using the phrase “conflicting narratives” to describe the arrests of 900 people, nor was it my intention to “downplay” them. I don’t see why you think I’m on the police’s side of this.

      Reply
  9. Jim J.

    First off, the title of this post is so very spot-on.

    This is really all about competing narratives, and who can make themselves feel good by shouting their narrative louder than the opposition. ‘Cause if you can dominate the dialogue through sheer brute force, then you must be correct, right?

    It’s not any different than Israel v. Palestinians; Republicans v. Democrats; Conservatives v. Liberals/NDP; sovereigntists v. federalists; etc., etc., etc.

    Since Fagstein didn’t adhere 100% to the protesters’ and their supporters’ narrative, it is no surprise that the people in those camps are a bit peeved with him professing any skepticism of their point of view (i.e., all cops are bad, all protesters are good).

    On the whole, I thought that this was a pretty balanced examination of competing claims and illustrating where both sides’ version of events came up short on credibility and long on exaggeration. On a few specific points:

    (1) Just ’cause you say you’re a journalist doesn’t make you a journalist, any more than saying that, because I have two cats and a dog, all of whom are in good health, I’m a veterinarian. For example, if you post a few times a month at your blog “All Cops are Pigs” that is hosted by a free blog service like Blogspot or Tumblr, from which you derive none of your livelihood, you are probably not a journalist by any credible definition of the word.

    Or, to offer up another analogy, if I work 30 hours a week at the locally-owned, fair-trade coffee shop because that’s how I pay my rent, and I also happen to spend a few hours a week taking black & white photographs of gritty urban streetscapes, even though I have never sold a picture in my life, that doesn’t make me a photographer.

    However, if you want to call yourself a journalist, by all means please do so. You could also call yourself the Tooth Fairy. Doesn’t mean that people have to agree with you, or that you are entitled to some kind of kid glove treatment.

    (2) The cops didn’t do themselves many favors by hyping up their cache of contraband, a good proportion of which had no connection to the protests. It does demonstrate a certain amount of paranoia on their part, but it is difficult to argue that, under the circumstances, a certain amount of paranoia was probably justified.

    (3) It seems to me that the ‘peaceful’ protesters spent a lot of their time fretting about their compatriots being arrested by the police, but nary a peep about the people smashing windows and setting fire to a police car, on the theory that it’s just “vandalism” against property and not “violence.” Remember that the next time someone steals your bicycle, or breaks into your apartment and steals your laptop. Since it’s just property, there’s obviously nothing to worry about. In fact, I’d think that the cops shouldn’t even get involved, since it is just a crime against property.

    (4) As Fagstein correctly pointed out, the protesters’ complaints about the conditions under which they were being detained was pretty stupid. It’s jail, people. You were expecting a suite at the Ritz? You got a cheese sandwich? And that’s it? And you expect that, somehow, this is going to generate sympathy from anyone who isn’t already a fellow Kool-Aid drinker?

    On balance, my sympathies obviously lie a bit more with the police, although I am skeptical of many of the claims that the police made, and some of the criticisms leveled against them are probably quite fair.

    However, the protesters’ credulity-straining hyperbole lends them a level of credibility that hovers somewhere just north of zero, and their tolerance, if not outright cheerleading for the so-called “vandalism” perpetrated by some of their fellow protesters, is going to convert few, if any, people over to your radical point of view, whatever that happens to be: anarchism, communism, nihilism, etc., etc.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      It’s not any different than Israel v. Palestinians; Republicans v. Democrats; Conservatives v. Liberals/NDP; sovereigntists v. federalists; etc., etc., etc.

      There’s an important difference that I didn’t address in this post: The police have the power. These weren’t two equal forces like two political parties. One group held a large part of the other in cages for hours.

      Or, to offer up another analogy, if I work 30 hours a week at the locally-owned, fair-trade coffee shop because that’s how I pay my rent, and I also happen to spend a few hours a week taking black & white photographs of gritty urban streetscapes, even though I have never sold a picture in my life, that doesn’t make me a photographer.

      Sure it does. It makes you an amateur photographer. For me, the issue isn’t who you are (journalist vs. non-journalist), it’s what you do (journalism vs. activism) and how you do it.

      it is difficult to argue that, under the circumstances, a certain amount of paranoia was probably justified.

      I could argue it. The vast majority of protests were peaceful, and even allowed to run rampant, the Black Bloc only damaged some windows. The violent confrontations wouldn’t have happened if the police hadn’t forced the protesters to move.

      (3) It seems to me that the ‘peaceful’ protesters spent a lot of their time fretting about their compatriots being arrested by the police, but nary a peep about the people smashing windows and setting fire to a police car, on the theory that it’s just “vandalism” against property and not “violence.”

      Don’t get sucked into the trap of generalizations. I’ve heard plenty of peeps. Some are even in the videos showing Black Bloc vandalism, with unmasked protesters asking “how is this helping?”

      In the days since, I’ve seen plenty of blog posts and articles condemning the property destruction as distracting from their messages.

      Sure, there are some who defend the Black Bloc, who argue their tactics were “minor and symbolic”, but they don’t represent all protesters, and I doubt they represent the majority.

      is going to convert few, if any, people over to your radical point of view, whatever that happens to be: anarchism, communism, nihilism, etc., etc.

      I’m pretty sure most of the protesters had legitimate grievances with the governments, and weren’t there to convert people to communism. Unfortunately, because everyone is focused on the protests themselves and their aftermath, few people know what those grievances were.

      Reply
      1. Jim J.

        There’s an important difference that I didn’t address in this post: The police have the power. These weren’t two equal forces like two political parties. One group held a large part of the other in cages for hours.

        My point was on the nature of competing narratives. People on one side – take your pick, whether it’s protesters or police – are on the side of the saints, and the other side is on the side of evil. And whichever side you are on, your opponents’ arguments are illegitimate, without basis, and, well, evil. Demonize, deny, minimize contrary arguments – all rhetorical tools designed to dominate the public discourse. This “new” narrative of G20 protesters vs. police is essentially the same as all of the previous examples I cited.

        It makes you an amateur photographer.

        Can I call myself an amateur journalist? Or an amateur veterinarian, for that matter? And I agree with you, only insofar as saying you’re an amateur journalist may make you feel as if you have a certain amount of credibility, but (a) it is not a license to be untouchable, no matter the circumstances; and, to reiterate my earlier point, (b) just because one professes to be something (journalist, veterinarian, nuclear engineer, ballerina, Tooth Fairy, etc.) doesn’t mean that one is.

        And I imagine that, with enough time, we could devise a multi-point litmus test that would define who is and who isn’t an actual journalist. For example, percentage of income derived might be an important (but not a sole) determinant of who is and who isn’t.

        I could argue it. The vast majority of protests were peaceful, and even allowed to run rampant, the Black Bloc only damaged some windows

        Based on the past history of protests at meetings of this type (Quebec City, Seattle, Genoa, etc., etc.) one might be forgiven for thinking that similar behaviour was going to manifest itself in Toronto.

        Some are even in the videos showing Black Bloc vandalism, with unmasked protesters asking “how is this helping?”

        I would say that a video clip of someone standing around fretting and wringing their hands is a far cry from denouncing it or preventing it or otherwise doing something about it. In reading news accounts (okay, okay, mainstream media accounts) of the protests, I oddly enough didn’t read a single quote from someone expressing dismay and the smashing of windows and torching of police cars.

        Again, since it is only damage to “property,” could one be excused from taking any action when one sees something that is obviously a crime against property? (e.g., someone hacksawing through a bicycle lock that is securing a nice shiny bike to a bike rack.) After all, no one is getting injured or hurt, right?

        “When buildings are destroyed and no one is hurt – who cares?” Chris Bowen, part of the anarchist hip-hop duo Test Their Logik and one of the movement’s most visible proponents of property damage.

        And in the lead-up to the G20, I did read news accounts of protest organizers preemptively disclaiming any responsibility for the actions of others, in effect washing their hands of it even before it happened. Seems to me that’s sort of a wink-wink, nudge-nudge kind of attitude.

        I’ve seen plenty of blog posts and articles condemning the property destruction as distracting from their messages

        I find it extraordinarily convenient that these denunciations happened afterwards, and not before, or during the G20. Did you find any blog posts or articles before the G20, telling potential Black Bloc to stay away, that they weren’t welcome, that they would be ostracized and/or identified to law enforcement? I’m guessing not.

        I’m pretty sure most of the protesters had legitimate grievances with the governments

        Point partially conceded. Maybe if they had spent more time protesting, and less time engaging in pointless provocations, asinine hyperbole (e.g., Canada is a fascist police state), and tolerance of their more destructive brethren, maybe I and others would be more interested in hearing what they have to say.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          I find it extraordinarily convenient that these denunciations happened afterwards, and not before, or during the G20. Did you find any blog posts or articles before the G20, telling potential Black Bloc to stay away, that they weren’t welcome, that they would be ostracized and/or identified to law enforcement? I’m guessing not.

          I don’t see how you can denounce something before it happens. But yes, I did read things before the G20 asking the Black Bloc to stay away from so-called “real” protesters. (Unfortunately, Google isn’t helpful in tracking them down after the fact.)

          Reply
          1. Jim J.

            I don’t see how you can denounce something before it happens.

            In regard to the instant issue; i.e., that Black Bloc always seem to show up at events like this, using so-called legitimate protests as cover, you’ll excuse me if I find your statement above as breathtakingly naive.

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              There were people who denounced the Black Bloc after anti-Olympic protests and other previous protests, but I still think denouncing something before it happens is problematic logically.

              Reply
          2. Jim J.

            I still think denouncing something before it happens is problematic logically

            One might make the observation that this is precisely what the protesters were doing re: the G20 summit itself. Sure, they showed up to protest while it was going on, but the various protest organizers and umbrella groups had already denounced its mere existence weeks (if not months) before the actual event itself took place.

            Reply
  10. Daniel Haran

    That was the biggest mass arrests in Canadian history, and all you can do is poo-pooh concerns by ad hominem? Christ almighty. Ok, some facts.

    Admission of undercover cops: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2007/08/23/police-montebello.html

    Evidence of violence:
    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2007/12/05/ot-montebello-assault-071205.html

    Paikin is credible. Those cells don’t have beds. Some people can’t eat cheese sandwiches (lactose intolerance, celiacs, vegans), and that’s pretty pathetic for 23 hours in holding. Reports of

    Also, consider this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjVtsuoPlzk

    “This isn’t Canada right now”. In the face of such astonishing arrogance, credible reports like Paikin’s and visible evidence like cramped cells with no beds, the issue deserves more in-depth and fair reporting than you’ve done here.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      the issue deserves more in-depth and fair reporting than you’ve done here.

      You’re absolutely right. I’m not reporting on the G20 protests, nor do I expect anyone to get all their information about them from this blog.

      Reply
  11. Dan

    Interesting article.

    I believe, however, your article DOES carry a very strong political agenda. As a result I think you’ve failed (like most of us do) to produce an argument free of one…

    Your beliefs about journalism and media are elitist. And these beliefs carry through your article (naturally, of course), tainting your analysis of the reports of ‘police brutality’, ‘sexual abuse’, ‘rape’ to name a few, along with your analysis of ‘alternative media’ and ‘ corporate media’…

    This kind of elitism will almost always always put a bias against ‘activists’ (as though there is only one type!) and citizen journalists (who aren’t always activists btw!)… You’ve done a fairly good job of shrinking your bias (compared to some of the articles I’ve seen in the corporate media), but there is still a bias.

    One way of removing this bias further would be to start at the beginning and examine the initial facts:

    1. 20 world leaders met in Toronto.
    2. 25,000 people took to the streets to protest.

    You could then have provided a balanced analysis of:
    1. what the world leaders were meeting about,
    2. who were the 25,000 people that protested,
    3. what were they protesting about.

    Once these things are clarified a context is developed. And effective analysis can be pursued…

    On another note, your analysis of protest strategy is simplistic and fails to acknowledge (effectively) the complexities surrounding media control and the diversity of the voices protesting… I think this serves, in part, to misinform the rest of your article…

    For example, the protest was directed towards the world leaders. It wasn’t towards the police (even though police repression was on some activist’s agendas)… Perpetuating a notion of protesters vs. the police is missing the point.

    I think we all need to be critical of our own political agendas, which are always there lurking between the lines…

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I think there’s a misunderstanding here. The point of this post is not to analyze the police vs. the protesters and declare a moral winner. It’s not to discuss whether the protesters’ demands were reasonable, or to analyze what the G20 leaders were meeting about. I’m writing about why I’m skeptical of some of the claims that came out of the G20 protests. It’s not a complete analysis of the G20 summit, nor is it intended to be.

      Feel free to disagree with me, or to believe one side or the other. It’s a free country (at least, for now). I’m writing my opinion, and allowing people to share theirs.

      Reply
      1. Dan

        “I’m writing about why I’m skeptical of some of the claims that came out of the G20 protests”

        Yes, this is precisely what I thought you were doing. But your skepticism for some of these claims is partly derived from your views about journalism, at least, this seems to be the case upon reading your analysis. Your analysis is skewed against ‘protesters’ in some of the claims because these views are couched in elitism and ideas about knowledge hierarchy…

        You can be as skeptical as you want. This is your right. But you’d probably be less skeptical if you provided some context to frame your arguments and cast a critical eye on your own agenda as well. I think it’s important we all do this.

        Reply
  12. Alexandre

    What caught my attnetion with this blogpost is your unwavering passion for critical thinking. It could make a useful piece for some of my courses. Critical thinking isn’t about “fair and balanced” but it can really be about putting statements in perspective and not taking them at face-value.
    With situations like these, it’s very difficult to “remain neutral.” Many examples of non-neutral situations, from the local level to the global, or at least “international.” And “the Swiss in me” has a hard time with those situations. Not that I want people to agree, but I wish it were possible to at least entertain nuanced ideas, respectuflly.

    As you surely notice, your blogpost caused something of a strange situation on my Twitter stream. Seriously, it puzzled me. No idea what provoked this reaction. But it might have to do with the type of topic this is.

    You should be commended for painstakingly working through so many aspects of of “what happened in TO surrounding the G20.” Not only does it take a lot of effort but it’s explosive enough a topic that you put your neck out in posting this.

    Thank you for doing it.

    Reply
    1. MB

      Thanks for sticking up for Steve, Alexandre. I am astounded by some of these reactions myself, as I thought this posting was pretty clearly dealing with *skepticism*, and an interesting take on that end. I think the amount that people are reading between the lines betrays an obvious attempt at honesty, point blank. He even admitted that some of his assumptions were wrong–imagine if more of us could put our pride aside?

      I mean, how does this: Steve thinks it’s silly to claim brutality because vegans weren’t catered to in jail,
      turn into this: Steve is a fascist cop-loving pig zombie corporate shill narc?

      It’s startling how many of the topics brought up in the comments don’t seem to correlate to what he’s posted, though admittedly some of this discussion has been enlightening. At the end of the day, though, for myself, this “us v. them” mentality is precisely why I am skeptical of EITHER side in situations like this. What’s worse, neither side has any leeway, and the moment you suggest it, you’re one of “them”…ridiculous.

      Reply
  13. Becks

    What I find interesting about the whole G20 protest/police issue is it was, as these things go, pretty tame…so tame in fact, that I was unable to find mention of it, as it was happening, on the tv news outside of Canada. Never saw it reported on the BBC,CNN or the rest of the US stations and quite frankly I feel the mainstream media over-sensationalized the ” rioting” and the subsequent events.

    The actual vandalism and burning of cop cars was about what happens here in Montreal at least one night every year that the Habs reach the finals and compared to what goes on in European cities during these summits it was a walk in the park.

    Now back to the OP…one thing I haven’t seen mentioned here is that even the cops admitted that at least half of the 900 people detained were totally innocent…think about that…at least 400 innocent people were detained in those little cages for hours and possibly days for absolutely no reason…IMHO that’s a reason for all of us to look askance at the police and to be worried at their behaviour.

    The other thing I’d like to draw attention to is this….have a real good look at the size of those cages, then look at the size of the bench in each cage…..and consider the following …how many people were detained at any one time per cage?? 1? 3? 6? 20? 30? and for how long, were did those people sit and sleep? BTW…I’m calling them cages because thats what they are…they most definitely are NOT cells!

    Reply
    1. MB

      If it wasn’t Canada’s most outrageous protest (Montréal seems to have a long history of them, even beyond that one time in 1849 when we…ahem…rioted and burned down Parliament), 900 people arrested is still pretty serious. Part of what makes that so surprising and grave to me is that the actual protests themselves were tame even by Canadian standards.

      It’s no surprise that it ended up but a ‘blip’ on the world’s radar. It may have changed Toronto, but it did not change Canada. Last weekend was like any other for the rest of Canada’s great cities. So, maybe Toronto can start their own anti-police brutality march now, or they are always welcome to come join ours!

      (…and I’m sure we have better sandwiches at the Bordeaux Jail!)

      Reply
      1. Jean Naimard

        If it wasn’t Canada’s most outrageous protest (Montréal seems to have a long history of them, even beyond that one time in 1849 when we…ahem…rioted and burned down Parliament),

        Let’s not forget that this riot was instigated by none other than The Gazette, in protest to compensations paid to the people whose property was destroyed during the 1837 rebellion.

        Reply
  14. Daniel Haran

    Nor would I expect anyone to do that. A bit of a straw man.

    Similarly, under “Corporate media ignored the protesters’ demands”, you link to reports of complaints about violence, but nothing about the substantive issues that brought the protesters there in the first place.

    Nor do you respond to the 2nd article I link to, suggesting the undercover cops actually *did* commit a violent act.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      nothing about the substantive issues that brought the protesters there in the first place

      As I said, I couldn’t find any. Or at least very few. The voices of those with grievances against G20 leaders seem to have been drowned out by those who want to talk about police tactics.

      Nor do you respond to the 2nd article I link to, suggesting the undercover cops actually *did* commit a violent act.

      The second article is an accusation by someone, based on a video that is no longer online (at least not at the address linked to from the article). I’ll reserve judgment on its merits until I see the video for myself.

      Reply
      1. Mike Mowbray

        On the subject of corporate media taking the trouble to mention protesters’ actual concerns (prior to being tossed in cages), the Globe at least had the decency to do a little online backgrounder profiling organizations involved, throwing in a video clip and a link to their websites (though as usual, once it’s cops-vs-protesters, the issues stay out of it).

        http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/g8-g20/background/toronto-g20-protester-watchlist/article1557600/

        Reply
    2. Jean Naimard

      Similarly, under "Corporate media ignored the protesters’ demands", you link to reports of complaints about violence, but nothing about the substantive issues that brought the protesters there in the first place.

      Well, the status quo is favourizing the current establishment. It would be pretty foolish for the corporate media to report that the establishment is flawed, no?

      Reply
  15. August Murphy-King

    The one thing you fail to delve into here was the almost complete disregard for Section 8 of the Charter. Random searches were occurring across the city – in some cases miles away from the security zone. Even if the so-called ‘five-metre rule’ was in effect, these were far outside that boundary. I’m curious to know your views on this…?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      From the video I’ve seen, people were given the choice of submitting to searches or leaving a controlled area. In that sense, calling them “random” doesn’t strike me as accurate (unless you mean some people entering those areas were not searched).

      As for whether the police have the right to control areas of public space and search people who enter it, I’m on the fence about it. I never like to be searched myself, but I wouldn’t want to be in a crowd where someone has a weapon.

      Either way, confiscating goggles is going too far.

      Reply
      1. August Murphy-King

        I agree with you about confiscating goggles, and no, I would never want to be searched either. But I will have to correct the first point about ‘controlled areas’. When this was all planned out, the stated ‘controlled areas’ were the Security Zone (hence the confusion around that Public Works Protection Act), the ‘Free Speech’ or ‘Protest Zone’ at Queen’s Park, and the immediate surrounding area of the Detention Centre, which was roughly located at Eastern and Carlaw (about 2 short residential blocks east of Carlaw to be precise). I can personnally attest to witnessing searches at: Queen & John (Sunday morning, before any protests had begun). College and University (Sunday before anything had begun). Bay and Queen (Sunday, before anything had begun). Carlaw & Queen (close to, but certainly not within immediate distance of the Detention Centre). Dundas and roughly Church (Sunday afternoon). I also had a friend tell me she was searched at Roncesvalles and Bloor – that’s barley even part of Toronto (it’s more Etobicoke). So while I acknowledge that the police had every right to search people at where they said they would search people, the fact is, they did it all across the city.

        Reply
  16. malstain

    Hate to say it, but I think you’re off base on this one.

    >I don’t think it’s “brutal” to forcibly move someone when they refuse a police officer’s order to move.

    This reveals a bias of its own as pro-authoritarian. So we’re just supposed to obey police orders no matter the circumstances? It’s chilling that an intelligent person would think that.

    I could go on, but I’d suggest you read this account (only on Facebook unfortunately) from someone who was arrested and detained without charges… a person whose views seem fairly moderate… along with *hundreds* of other people, some of whom apparently weren’t even protesters! It’s long but worth it… and it’s not from an “official” journalist but it does offer a pretty compelling picture of the mass detention.

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/note.php?note_id=397205503638&id=511491565&ref=nf

    I would agree with you that it’s healthy to be suspicious of received information no matter where it comes from, but… let’s just say that questioning authority is never a bad thing.

    Reply
    1. MB

      > This reveals a bias of its own as pro-authoritarian. So we’re just supposed to obey police orders no matter the
      > circumstances? It’s chilling that an intelligent person would think that.

      No, malstain, that’s not the point. You missed it…yet anybody who disagrees is “pro-authoritarian.” I’m sick of the hyperbole. Us vs. them, us vs. them, us vs. them…

      I think it’s chilling that an intelligent person would assume to know the police’s motivations for being asked to move. When you’re in a protest it’s often difficult to see what’s happening 10 meters, let alone a block away. When you’re asked to move, it could be because you’re getting in the way, or because the situation in your area or direction has become hazardous, not necessarily because fascist authoritarian cops are randomly pushing people around for a power trip (of course, the latter is always possible, and this is precisely why it’s important to be skeptical). The question is the type of force used, not that force is used.

      There’s legitimate protesting, and then there’s old-fashioned stubbornness.

      Reply
      1. Fagstein Post author

        When you’re asked to move, it could be because you’re getting in the way, or because the situation in your area or direction has become hazardous

        In my experience, people are usually told to move because police are afraid of large groups of protesters staying in one place (unless they’re in the process of being arrested). Whether that’s a good reason is up to you to decide.

        Reply
    2. Fagstein Post author

      So we’re just supposed to obey police orders no matter the circumstances?

      I’m sure one could come up with a circumstance where it would be absurd to obey such orders (like, say, of a cop ordered you to kill someone), but yes, the law requires us to obey police officers, and I don’t think being ordered to move is so outrageous it must be fought physically, even if I don’t see the reasons behind the orders and they sound like kind of a dick move. Complaints can be issued after the fact.

      Reply
      1. malstain

        Hmm, well I guess you just err more on the side of obeying authority than I would. I’ll spare any comments about what happens when people do that too much, history has many examples…
        But since I’ve already been accused of “missing the point” for this disagreement, I should add that I thought you made a lot of good points in your post and that, for sure, people should be skeptical about info coming from all sides!

        Reply
  17. Shawn

    After reading all this and the various replies from readers, I’m very impressed by the reasoned way you’ve gone about this, Steve.

    Reply
    1. sco100

      And he’s been most patient in replying to those disgruntled elements sympathetic to the “right” of a disrupting minority to breeding chaos and provoking confrontation for the sake of painting the police black.

      I’m equally impressed.

      Reply
  18. James

    One of your best articles, Steve. Totally agree.

    But what’s even more pressing than all this is.. what does Ted Bird think about it???? :P

    Reply
  19. Jean Naimard

    Wow. Where to start?
    I think Fagstein wants to be so much a journalist that he really wants to make sure he has the corporate mindset: do not rock the boat, do not ask embarrassing questions, don’t go to far… Well, you know the pattern. Be a good boy, and The Man™ will remember you in due time…

    (“M’as apprendre l’anglais; m’as lire la Gazette” — Richard Desjardins, Le Bon Gars – how nice, on a server in Algeria…)

    When Napoléon Bonaparte (the one who annoyed the english) was asked, regarding on how they expect to guard prisoners sent to the Île du Diable penal colony , he answered “we’ll take guys just as crooked as them”.
    In his “Ringworld” prequels, Larry Niven gives his detective characters drugs to make them paranoïd. The main protagonist, Sigmund Ausfaller, was born paranoïd, and deliberately left untreated so he would be a better detective.
    Cops are paranoid, and when they meet something unexpect, something that’s not “normal”, they are upset.
    Hence the massive beatings. Cops being drilled to accept authority without question cannot fathom why H.C.s* would question authority, be it superior (the government) or their own “authority” (not moving when asked to), so they tend to get pissed and hit people.
    And yes, they tend not to be too intelligent; an intelligent mind would quickly tire of standing on a street corner, waiting to dispence justice in the form of speeding tickets.
     
    * «Hosties de Civils» — “Darn civilians”; that’s what cops call the rest of us.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I think Fagstein wants to be so much a journalist that he really wants to make sure he has the corporate mindset: do not rock the boat, do not ask embarrassing questions, don’t go to far…

      Yes. This post is clearly an example of me not wanting to stir up controversy or ask questions.

      Reply
  20. Grand Meaulnes

    I’m no fan of Fagstein, because of the way he sometimes attacks the genuine honest work of his colleagues in the profession, as if he somehow knew better.

    But i will say this: he obviously knows a thing or two about activism and alternative media. But he’s worked long enough in the mainstream press to laugh off all these silly charges against corporate media and right-wing agendas. in fact, most journalists i know trace their origins in the alternative press and/or student activism.

    Truth is, with time and experience we all realize that no one holds the truth about anything, and no one can claim to have the moral high-ground on anything.

    Which is why mainstream media are considerably more subtle in passing blame around. It is obvious that the TO police abused its power at some point.

    But remember that they had to plan their intervention based on what we all witnessed in previous events, whether it’s G20, APEC, G7, G8 etc.

    And the fact remains: a strong contingency of protesters are there to disrupt, and maybe even compromize such meetings, under banners which invariably narrow-down to anti-capitalist agenda. They’re entitled to their opinions, but they hold views that are hardly shared by most. so how do you get attention? You provoke, challenge, then play victim when the shit hits the fan.

    i’m in favor of a public inquiry over what happened. But not if it’s to give yet another platform to anarchists, bums and troublemakers who can’t accept that not everyone shares their beliefs.

    Now, on a personal note:

    The issues addressed by the world leaders at the G20 are important, if not crucial to our future. Our economy is increasingly global, which makes such summits essential. These leaders were democraticaly elected (mostly) and they also represent the views of the people who put them there in the first place. You might not agree with Obama, Harper and Sarkozy, but their views are legit. It sucks, but “real” journalists have to take that into consideration when covering the stories so many of you decry.

    You guys who protested likely have very few responsabilities in life, you likely don’t have families, stable jobs or anything of that nature. Believe what you want, but don’t assume that you know every nuance of how society functions.

    Reply
  21. Grand Meaulnes

    @jean ai marre: qu’as tu fais aux flics pour pouvoir les mepriser de la sorte?

    To all of you who hate all cops all the time, be grateful for the day they’ll save your life when they’ll pull their gun to take down the crazed gunman who’s shooting at students in your CEGEP, or comb the streets to find the rapist who attacked your girlfriend, the pedophile who molested your kid, the drug dealer who muscled his way into your neighbourhood, not to mention the crazy drivers who nearly run you over when you cross the street.

    Reply
    1. Jean Naimard

      Moi? Rien. Mais de les voir se prendre pour d‘autres et taper sur du monde sans raison, ça m’écœure pas mal.
       

      To all of you who hate all cops all the time, be grateful for the day they’ll save your life when they’ll pull their gun to take down the crazed gunman who’s shooting at students in your CEGEP, or comb the streets to find the rapist who attacked your girlfriend, the pedophile who molested your kid, the drug dealer who muscled his way into your neighbourhood, not to mention the crazy drivers who nearly run you over when you cross the street.

      <token example why the cops don’t care> A friend of mine had has his 16 year old daugher pimped. Although he had all the information needed to have the police nail the guy real good, they did not give a $BLEEP. </token example why the cops don’t care>

      Reply
      1. Heather H

        Ça ne prouve pas que les policiers ne sont pas bon, ça prouve uniquement que tu es trop sans-dessein pour essayer de comprendre les choses qui échapent à tes préjugés. Ton exemple de la fille de ton chum etc…n’a aucun bon sens. T’es probablement le genre de gars qui trouvent les pompiers incompétents parce qu’ils n’éteignent pas tout les feux instantanéments.

        Reading you makes me realize that your anti-anglo whining has more to do with your incapacity to function in society than because of any reasonable political arguments.

        Reply

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