Rex says the police should get even tougher with the anarchist Black Bloc protesters who caused havoc in Toronto during the G20 summit.

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Rex Murphy Point of View

June 27, 2010


No decent, civilized city - and Toronto is both - should be held hostage by the actions of a set of ferociously insolent thugs and vandals.

Which is what happened here yesterday afternoon, and in fits and starts last night and early morning.  A band of black-masked, malicious, and potentially dangerous ne'er-do-wells did their radical best to get a racket going:  torched a couple of police cars, did their petty "let's smash the windows" trick, insulted the police, intimidated spectators, and tried to order the press around.

The world has seen this knob of losers and self-nominated 'anarchists' before; they gave themselves the comic-book brand "Black Bloc" long ago, and they have been the noisome tail to the dog of every high order world meeting for well over a decade.  There was even a flash of them smacking downtown windows at the recent Olympics, you'll recall, until everyone turned on them for their vandalism and cowardice, and they vanished.

People also remember the havoc, damage and ugliness they kicked up in Seattle; remember, too, Genoa, Madrid, and Quebec City.  It was always too much to hope that Toronto would be spared their attention.

For this set of malcontents - they're not protesters - protesters have moral standing - the deliberations of heads of government in a time of crisis is merely a background stage on which to engage in violent and arrogant abuse of the idea of civic action.  They degrade protest.

Don't buy their muddled mendacious rhetoric either.  They care as much about the general well-being of the rest of us as the stone or brick in their hand, or that hammer cares for the well-being of the Starbucks window.

Some people are saying that Toronto shouldn't have hosted the summit because this crowd would cause trouble. Absolutely wrong.  Cities and governments don't choose to do, or not to do things because a couple of hundred hit-and-run artists put up a smarmy threat of "direct action". The splinter doesn't direct the oak.

Yesterday's mini-riot had one irony that will be very hard for some to digest.  It gives at least partial cover for the extraordinary one billion dollar cost that went into security for the G20 meeting here. The Black Bloc, and they will love this, is Stephen Harper's best political friend today.

For very long, the pseudo-anarchists have been coddled and played with.  The costs of that approach showed up in the images of Toronto broadcast all over the world yesterday.  "Toronto the mild" looking like "Toronto the war zone".  In so far as it is at all possible, those responsible for criminal activity and damage to property should be arrested and charged.  They should be banned for good from any like event in future.  Penalties should be heavy.

Toronto is a decent, civilized city.  Hooligans and thugs should never be allowed to twist those virtues into a shield for their own ignorant and dangerous ends.

For The National, I'm Rex Murphy.