Sunday, June 27, 2010

Gee: 8 things you should do at a world leader summit

What a strange weekend.

Unless you're living under a rock or in another country and don't really care (which would have been me last year, the year before, and pretty much every other year) you'll know that this past weekend, Toronto played host to the G20 Summit.

Honestly, I'm not sure why one would ever do such a thing. I can't imagine what they were thinking.

Gordon's brother and his friend came to visit us and we walked downtown after watching the news and seeing most of the craziness was past. We figured we'd see what had happened. We saw glass being cleaned up off the sidewalk. Some violent protesters had smashed in the windows of businesses. They specifically targeted a few banks and Nike and Starbucks. You know, because those baristas are always hurting people. There were some spray painted messages on buildings about freeing prisoners and stuff like that.

Walking west on Queen St, we saw a plume of smoke and walked to see what it was. Turns out it was a police car on fire. It stunk pretty badly. But we actually couldn't get too close because suddenly police came and started herding us away. Like we were going to storm the firemen or something. No one was doing anything other than taking pictures. There were gaggles of police everywhere, blocking off areas of steet, for no reason we could see. We had our picture taken with them. It seemed so strange. I'm not trying to make fun. I just didn't understand what the hell was going on.

Turned away from that area of Queen, we walked up to University and College to see what was going on there. We saw some cops on horses (in riot gear) and bikes. They were blocking University for some reason. We couldn't figure out why, so we just stood there, looking, like everyone else. Then we saw a group of people marching with a few flags. It was a pretty sad demonstration. I think it was CUPE. There weren't very many of them. They weren't really making any noise, they were just walking up university. I imagine they were trying to take their message to Queen's Park. When they met the blockade, many just sat down. Then the police started moving forward. Using their bikes to push those seated, back. It was surreal. I was sitting on the curb watching and realized I would have to move or the police would end up hitting me with their bikes. What was the point? We left because it was so weird. And because we were hungry, really.

Last night before bed, I read Steve Paikin's report on the protest gone wrong on the Esplanade. How peaceful middle-age protesters were terrorized and arrested; a journalist assaulted. All hell broke loose. I couldn't imagine. A half-hour walk away from me, this was happening?

All I could hear from my bedroom window was the roar of helicopters as I tried to fall asleep. All I could think was, "How did it all get so crazy?"

Today, there was supposed to be a protest at the Don Jail, so when we walked to Chinatown to get our groceries we saw probably a hundred cops in the parking lot of the KFC getting into their riot gear. And not a protester to be found. We kept looking around for what they were protecting against, but no one showed up. Perhaps it was a decoy for the real protest. The police ended up leaving, finally. It's odd to see so many weapons in one's neighbourhood. Scary.

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