G20 violence beamed around the world

Toronto the Good risks losing its squeaky clean image.
This photograph of a protester kicking a burning a police car in downtown Toronto on Saturday has appeared on news websites around the world, including Britain's The Guardian and The Australian. ((Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press))

Toronto the Good risks losing its squeaky clean image.

While Canadian government and tourism officials hoped the G20 and G8 summits would boost Toronto's image as a vibrant, urbane city, the 3,000 journalists who have converged on the city are instead sending home pictures of protest violence, putting images of burning police cars, smashed windows and angry mobs in newspapers and on TV newscasts around the world.

Here's a look at some of the online coverage:

The U.K. Guardian

Headline: Hundreds arrested after G20 protesters riot in Toronto

The front page of The Guardian website on Sunday morning featured a picture of a burning police car, along with a photo gallery of violent images from downtown Toronto and a story about mass arrests sparked by anarchists: 

Promo on the main page of The Guardian website.

"The violence was carried out by a roving band, wearing black balaclavas, who shattered shop windows and rampaged through the centre of the city. Protesters set fire to at least three police cars in different parts of the city, including one in the heart of the financial district. One protester jumped onto the roof of a car before dropping a Molotov cocktail through the smashed windscreen. Banks, coffee shops and small stores were targets, and protesters looted at least one retailer, storming out with clothing and the arms and legs of mannequins."

Columnist John Hilary, in a piece called May Toronto's G20 be the last, questions the military tactics of police:

"To a foreigner, the Canadian police are a confusing bunch. With Toronto locked down for the G20 summit, several of them have been cycling around the deserted streets on mountain bikes presenting what we would see as the very picture of community policing. Yet side by side with this benign image is an intimidating, militarised presence that many Canadians feel has been deliberately cultivated in order to undermine their right to protest against the G20 and its damaging impacts."

The Times of India

Headline: Toronto: Protests erupt over G20 meet

The India website didn't put the protests on its main landing page, but did offer a video of raw close-up footage of fire roaring out of a graffiti-covered police car.

As the footage rolls, an announcer says, "Protesting against the huge cost incurred by the Canadian government in hosting the G20 summit, agitators set fire to police cars. Flames and black smoke billow into the sky after the fuel tanks of one of the cars was set ablaze."


Headline: G-20 protests plagued by violence, vandalism

The popular American website offers video of burning police cars, lines of riot police and crowds of people running in fear. The video tops a story that predicts more violence is coming.

"[Toronto Police Chief Bill] Blair told reporters that packs of disruptive demonstrators infiltrated peaceful protests in order to cause chaos and distract police. At least four police cars went up in flames and smoke during hours of confrontation. Protesters left behind broken windows and graffiti. Blair said police used tear gas after warning a group of protesters 'engaged in acts of destruction' Saturday. But not all encounters between police and protesters were hostile. At one intersection the crowd danced and chanted, 'You're sexy, you're cute, take off your riot suit!'"

Mail & Guardian of South Africa

Headline: G20 march turns violent

An article in South Africa's newspaper leads off with mention of burning police cars and smashed store windows. It notes that:

"Toronto police chief Bill Blair admitted police had struggled to control the crowds, and had used tear gas on one occasion, after warning people to stay away from trouble spots. 'We have never seen that level of wanton criminality and vandalism and destruction on our streets,' he told an evening news conference. 'There are limits to free speech, and these limits really end when it infringes on the rights and the safety of others.'"

Le Monde of France

Headline: Demonstrations and incidents on the fringe at G20

The French newspaper offers a close-up video of a protester smashing a store window. The translated caption next to the video reads:

"Militants violently protested against having the G20 summit in Toronto on Saturday. They broke windows in Toronto, the financial capital of Canada. The incidents took place in Bay Street, the financial sector and on Queen Street, a major street in the city. According to a press release issued at night, police arrested at least 500 people. These incidents were on the fringe of peaceful anti-G20 protests that attracted several thousand people.

Xinhua of China

Headline: Thousands protest against G20 summit in Toronto

The Chinese media took a more measured approach in their article, noting that:

"A small group of criminals are to blame for the violence that happened Saturday before leaders of the G20 countries meet to discuss global economic recovery, said Toronto Mayor David Miller. 'I can only call them criminals and they should be arrested,' the mayor told Xinhua on Saturday, after a 10,000-people protest in the downtown area turned into a riot. 'People are calling them protestors. That is not fair to the people who came to protest,' he said."

Buenos Aires Herald

Headline: Among clashes and protests, G20 leaders to strike balance

The Argentine newspaper doesn't mention the protests in its article outlining the political news of the summits, but does offer three photos, one showing a protester throwing debris at a burning police car, one showing a protester yelling at police in riot gear, and one showing someone being dragged on the ground by armed officers.

The Australian

Headline: Anarchist mob takes Toronto by storm

The Australian tries to explain to readers who the violent protesters are:

"Toronto police chief William Blair said the group was called the Black Bloc, but this name also referred to its tactic of attempting to draw away police so other rioters could penetrate a protected fence perimeter around the G20 venue. As well as setting fire to two police cars and vandalising another, the mob threw bricks through shop windows and used spray paint to put graffiti slogans on buildings. Among those caught in the melee was a CBC television crew. Bricks were thrown at its TV truck and one narrowly missed a reporter. 'We have never seen this level of wanton criminality,' Mr. Blair said."