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G20: 'I never imagined I'd see my city like I did'

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Protesters gathered in downtown Toronto on Saturday, June 26. (Carmen Millet)

By Carmen Millet, G20 citizen blogger

carmen52.jpgI never imagined I'd see my city like I did yesterday.

Day 1 of the G20 summit in Toronto started peacefully but ended, sadly, in what seemed like complete and utter chaos.

I was on University Avenue when the peaceful protests started. A range of issues was represented from large, organized groups like Greenpeace, Amnesty International, the United Steelworkers, the Communist Party of Canada, to smaller groups advocating legal rights, Gaza and gender justice.

These are the groups that should be covered at summits like the G20. These are the groups that work with law enforcement to organize protests and live within the law. These are the real protesters and these are the groups that will ultimately be heard.

Unfortunately, the so-called Black Bloc anarchists (or thugs and vandals, as I prefer them be called) are the ones who ended up getting the media attention.

I get that.

It's newsworthy and, admittedly, I got caught up in it myself. The scenes I witnessed were seriously intense and I found myself unable to turn away. The way these thugs treated the police who were doing their jobs (note: badly) to the way they were treating our city -- their city -- was appallingly disgusting. I don't care how much overtime the police officers were getting paid. What I saw was heartbreakingly sad. I saw police in riot gear and gas masks, cars on fire, windows busted, bottles being thrown at police, brazen attempts at harassing the officers who held their ground without using a single bit of force and anarchic "rhetoric" that was in no way a protest of anything, but was instead aimed at an onslaught of violence and assault.

People have a right to assemble and certainly a right to protest, but I never thought I'd witness the things I saw last night in Toronto. Never.

When I finally made it home and was able to digest the images I'd seen, an overwhelming feeling of sadness came over me. I was sad at what had happened to my beloved adopted city. I was sad that it had happened to her, so unnecessarily. I was sad at the sheer amount of chaos and destruction and vehemence, seemingly for nothing. I'm sad that I'll walk around today and see her broken and beleaguered.

Still, I'll make my way back out into the city I love today. If there's one thing I know about Torontonians, we'll persevere, we'll learn from our mistakes, and we'll all be better for it.

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