Tuesday, June 29, 2010

G20, Toronto

  • Saturday

    There is a black bruise
    on the sweet fruit of protest,
    and the city chokes on its bitterness.
    Storefronts are smashed and cop cars burn
    -- not universal symbols, but words
    that mean different things
    in different languages.

    The medium swallows the message.

  • Sunday

    Beating their batons, the police
    chase protestors through flower beds
    in Queen’s Park, where politicians make
    laws that are first broken, then spoken.
    One hundred citizens charged like beasts,
    so seven hundred will sleep in cages.

    Civil rights are more fragile than people.

  • Monday

    Police still walk in crowds along Queen Street
    where smashed windows have been covered up
    with wooden boards like political excuses.
    When I pass them on my way to lunch,
    my mouth can’t decide which way to turn
    (a smile feels like a permission slip,
    a frown a kick to the groin)
    so I just look away.

    A broken window is easier to fix than a promise.

Photo by Commodore Gandalf Cunningham

        (At the risk of starting up another G20 debate in another comment section) What are your thoughts on the interaction between police and protestors throughout the G20 summit and aftermath?


Dorkmaster Flek said...

I love the "first broken, then spoken" line. The last entry was about the summit itself. The interaction between police and protesters is a different question.

The rioting was terrible, but I didn't see the police acting much better. I saw people stopped and searched with no cause in the middle of Queen's Park, being denied entry to a public place unless they gave up their rights against unlawful searches. Sunday was just ridiculous, with people being arrested all over the place for waving signs. What I saw on Sunday was payback for Saturday's vandalism, not an appropriate response. I saw peaceful protesters boxed in on all sides and beint told to leave, but there's no where to go. This is a common police tactic. You box them in, and then in order for them to leave, they have to go through you, at which point it becomes assaulting an officer or resisting arrest, and that is just despicable. After a certain point on Saturday night, they decided that anybody who was still in Queen's Park at that point was part of the problem, even the ones who just wanted to sit in and stay the night, and they just arrested everybody.

The police and the media will say that they're between a rock and a hard place trying to keep order, but that doesn't justify what I saw. The police have power over us normal citizens because we let them. There is a crucial bond of trust between the public and law enforcement that is required for them to do their jobs. Saturday is what happens when that bond of trust is broken. There's only so many cops in the city. If the people decide to riot, right or wrong, they can't stop them. Enacting secret laws to arrest and search anybody without cause; refusing to let people into public places unless they are searched; these things destroy that bond of trust.

People will say the police are only human. Yes, they are no more human than the rest of us. But they have power, and with power comes responsibility. (Didn't these people learn anything from Uncle Ben?) They are supposed to set an example for the rest of us. That power comes with scrutiny over how it is used. That's what you sign up for when you decide to join the force.

Katie said...

I agree with Andrew. "First broken, then spoken," was a great line. I really feel like there was something super sketchy happening there and am thrilled to watch that all unfold.

I feel like the G20 was a gigantic waste of our money, as well as poorly planned. The protesting and then police response wasn't a surprise, nor was all the damage resulting in high costs. So why have it in Toronto? I know we want to really put Toronto on the map, but at what cost?

Definitely loved the poem. And loved watching the whole ordeal unfold with you last weekend!

Mary said...

I know this is old news but I'd just like to put it out there that I supported the po po on this one. I don't want to get into it because it's like beating a dead horse, but yeah... Siding with the police. And believe me I'm not a huge fan of the police. They give me too many tickets and make my insurance go up. However I'm still siding with the po po on this one.