The G20 Summit in Toronto: Thank god it’s over

Today, my wife and I watched the news. The total number of people arrested has grown to almost 700. Early this morning, the police went to the University of Toronto and picked up around 70 people who were staying there temporarily in the dorms. Apparently their detective work had lead them to people in possession of materials such as bricks, sharpened sticks and other such paraphernalia which could be used for vandalism as opposed to peaceful protest. Also, the police had found behind the bushes surrounding the dorm numerous articles of clothing matching the outfits of the Black Bloc.

This afternoon, my wife and I went out for a long walk. The streets seem pretty much back to normal. We noted that clean up had been done or was underway for businesses which had sustained damage. We saw a couple of groups of protesters however everything seemed very peaceful. The G8 apparently ends later this afternoon and all of us can get back to normal.

In the final tally, what did the protest accomplish? Do the participants feel a sense of civic pride having exercised their democratic freedom? How do the people who are still locked up feel? I noted that one TV station interviewed a representative of some legal group who was offering counselling and referrals for those who had been detained by the police.

I remain myself quite miffed at watching police cars burning, police cars that I helped pay for with my tax dollars. I am ticked at watching my own neighbourhood set upon by masked men randomly smashing windows. I am cross at those I saw yelling at the police as if the police are somehow the enemy.

Do we need to protest our government? Yes. Do we need to tell our leaders we are displeased with the job they are doing? Yes. Do we need to bring to the attention of the world the various issues which get lost in the shuffle of daily business? Yes.

Nevertheless, it is painfully evident from this past weekend that not all who come to protest do so legitimately to protest (Black Bloc) or know how to protest (yelling at an individual cop or even throwing stuff at the cops). What was accomplished? To all those who were arrested and possibly may at this moment remain under lock and key, was your sacrifice worth it?

The G20 leaders are heading to their respective planes to fly home. They were not bothered by the protesters; they never even saw the protesters. Somehow the time and energy of the entire protest would have been better spent doing something else: writing to government officials, speaking directly with elected representatives at home, contacting media. I for one have the image of a burning police car not one block from my own home. Protest? Anarchy. Legitimate complaint? Crazed anger directed at the police. Desire to strike at unfair practices of big business? Smash the windows of Starbucks and my local bank. Down with capitalism? It is that very capitalism which provided your food, gave you transportation, sheltered you in Toronto and granted you the freedom to protest.

You all have great intentions. Many of those intentions I agree with. Hats off; congratulations. But I think you all need to rethink how to turn your ideas into reality. And please, when you drop back for a visit? I would be most appreciative if you wouldn’t trash my neighbourhood.

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