The unforgettable G20
- June 28, 2010 9:25 PM |
- By G20 Street Team
A protester sits in front of line of police blocking a march by demonstrators attempting to march towards the security fence as the G20 Summit closes in Toronto on Sunday. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)
By Amber Hildebrandt, CBC News
It was a curtain of rain that served as the final scene of the G20 Summit weekend on the streets of downtown Toronto.
Perhaps it was fitting that a torrential downpour closed out the weekend, a cathartic symbol as the city begins cleaning up and reflecting on what went amiss.
While some boarded stores started replacing their shattered windows and workers began dismantling the kilometres-long security fence on Monday, it will take much longer for Torontonians to forget -- and possibly forgive -- the acts committed on both sides.
After a weekend spent cycling from protest to protest and weaving my way to the frontlines of the action, here are a few moments I will not soon forget:
1. Beyond the violent antics and innumerable police searches reported in the news, there were also many moments of levity and goodwill between protesters and police. The most memorable for me happened beside the security fence on Front Street, where about a hundred protesters, some seated on the ground, some standing, were chanting at the riot police on the other side of the barricade. A member of the media was photographing police through a small gap in the fence, when his camera's flash fell off inside the perimeter, rolling toward the police. 'Show some humanity,' the crowd yelled. For a minute, the officers huddled together. Then, one officer, using a baton, pushed the flash and its two batteries under the fence toward the photographer. Loud applause erupted from the crowd. Perhaps the only exception was one lone protester, who yelled out, "We still think you're douche bags!"
2. The sound of hundreds of cyclists chiming their bells to the cheers of passersby and drivers as they took a long, winding ride through the city as part of Sunday's Bike Bloc protest was music to my ears, especially after the previous day filled with wailing sirens, angry chants and batons banging on shields. Few motorists seemed frustrated as the cyclists -- with their hands often aloft in a peace sign -- temporarily took over the streets. "More bikes, less cops," the colourful lot chanted as they made their way to the detention centre in the east end.
3. The 'Running of the Protesters' became a common sight on Queen Street over the weekend. The police charge always began with a rhythmic drum of one baton against a plastic shield, then the line of dozens of riot police joined in, producing a menacing and effective boom-boom-boom as they ran toward the crowd. Many in the crowds -- filled with anarchists, peaceful protesters but also many curious onlookers -- quickly turned and ran, pushing and shoving along the way. "They're just trying to scare us," yelled the most hardcore of the protesters. "It's working!" another yelled in response.
4. Many have made reference to the ghost town that downtown Toronto became in the lead-up to and during the G20 Summit weekend. But it can't go without note here. Eerie enough in the lead-up to the summit, when officers were still cheerfully dealing with employees like me working inside the security perimeter, it was especially disconcerting Sunday morning as I biked down roads, like Yonge Street, with rows of boarded-up and graffiti-ed storefronts, turning our city into something resembling a combat zone.
About the Blog
CBC News Your Voice has assembled a team of citizen bloggers and CBC staff to bring you a street level view of Toronto during the global conference. From residents who live inside the security perimeter to business owners and students eager to share their perspectives, the G20: Street Level team will provide you with a 360-degree view of the summit's impact.
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