The G-20: Political stupidity, and police shame

Well, after yesterday’s disgusting exhibition in Toronto, it’s perfectly clear to me that neither the Toronto police nor the protestors would recognise a genuine riot if it jumped up and bit them on the ass.

Police cruisers were trashed and burned because the police abandoned them

Dozens of businesses on Yonge Street were trashed, without a blue uniform anywhere in sight?

Even police headquarters didn’t seem worth protecting; according to the Toronto Star, “… about 50 officers in full riot gear stood guard, but they didn’t move against the protesters even after they smashed the windows of the police museum.”

According to the Toronto Sun today, “Starbucks, Swiss Chalet, American Apparel, Money Mart, all the major banks, TTC streetcars stalled by the protest, media vehicles, and the Zanzibar Tavern and its G-String Summit were all trashed.”

Obviously, protecting the people who pay them was not on the agenda for the Toronto police; looking after visiting foreigners was far more important to their political masters.  If I still lived in Toronto, I would be feeling great anger and bitterness over such a stunning betrayal.

The police acted to control the crowds only when they had sufficient numbers, and left three cruisers to their fate when they were out-numbered.  That has to be well over $100 thousand of public property up in smoke.

Now, politicians in general and Prime Minister Harper in particular, will attempt to point the anger that should be directed at them towards the Black Bloc instead. 

That will not impress anyone capable of rational thought.  As Don Martin of the National Post says today, “The negatives of placing (economic summits) in a major city core like Toronto have been proven. The merits are now obvious of hosting them in a place like Alberta’s Kananaskis where, in 2002, protesters didn’t get within 30 kilometres of the G8 site.”

The “dipstick of the year” award has to go to Mayor Miller.  He is quoted by the Toronto Sun in “Anarchists leave trail of destruction” today as saying “We were concerned about people coming to Toronto to deliberately commit violent acts and I have no doubt whatsoever that this is what we are seeing. Torontonians should be angry about it.” 

No Mr. Mayor, they shouldn’t be angry about that, they should be angry at you.  Was there an angry Mayor Miller protesting about Toronto being saddled with all the cost and predictable mayhem that goes with hosting a G-20 Summit when the subject was first broached? 

Apparently not, despite there being little doubt that Police Chief Blair would, or certainly should, have been on overdrive pointing out all the risks involved.  

And now, Mayor Miller is trying to score points by complaining about what he surely must have known was inevitable.  At the very least, he took a high-risk gamble – and the Toronto taxpayers lost. 

Here are a couple of police quotes from the Toronto Star (emphasis added):

“It is very regrettable that such vandalism and violence could not be prevented…” Police Chief Blair.

 “Yes there are broken windows, yes there is graffiti and yes there are burned cars … We have always said we will take a balanced and measured approach and I think you saw that today.”  Michele Paradis of the Integrated Security Unit.

We sure did, Michele…

Beyond that, if Miller entertained any thoughts that hosting the Summit would put Toronto on the map and boost tourism, he was sadly mistaken.  When Americans are told by their own Ambassador to stay out of Toronto, and then see police cars burning in the streets, that is not going to help tourism – not, never, no-how. 

And public confidence in the police will be badly undermined by the scenes of unopposed trashing of the downtown core, and ‘abandoned’ cruisers burning in the streets; the only times I saw the police being brave was when they had sufficient numbers to ensure success.

According to first-hand observor John Thompson’s excellent article in Canada Free Press today, (see here), “Police in riot gear in front of the US Consulate were posing for photos by earnest young Lefties with cameras…  These poor kids had come a long way to confront the authorities, so one or two of the police obliged them by brandishing their batons and looking menacing for the cameras while standing about 10m away.” 

Well, there’s no doubt in my mind that at least some of these pictures have already been flashed around the world as incontrovertible proof of Toronto Police brutality; this was poor judgement to say the least.

As of 9:18 this morning, GO Transit has announced via e-mail that train service is back to normal, so hopefully this sordid business is now over.

But whether it is or not, now is the time to make preparations to drag the politicians and the police onto the carpet for a full explanation.

The Toronto cops I saw at the massive peace-march riots in Toronto 40 years ago would never have abandoned their cruisers and run away from a fight.

Jeff Goodall