Tuesday, June 29, 2010

When Fences Are Built

Every once in a while, a subject touches me so much that I find myself back in my old blog, just having to tell the world (that is, my 2.5 readers) how I feel.

I'm sure by now you've heard of the G-20 summit in Toronto over the weekend. You've heard how much the leaders achieved (which is to say, not that much), and you've heard of the protests -- violent and peaceful.

In preparation of the summit, Canada (the gov't, police, army, all of them combined and more) turned a part of downtown Toronto into an armed fortress with a security zone. They've erected a 9 ft high fence to protect that zone where the not-so-welcomed leaders were to meet. They've brought in 5,100 officers, and in total had some 20,000 personnel involved in security for the two summits (G8 too). Then, they also secretly passed a law giving extra powers to police for a few days.

When the gov't denies the citizens basic human rights, and when people can't walk about freely where they live, you can't expect anything else -- people will protest.

Power begets power and absolute power corrupts absolutely. So was the matter with the extreme force they showed (fence, cops etc.) that irked Torontonians and Canadians, and so was their use of power afterward during the peaceful protests.

I went downtown Saturday afternoon to witness the protests. I was not intimidated by anyone in the crowd, but the police sure scared the crap out of me. They were the ones fully armed, not anyone else. They stood like a bunch of thugs in their black (bloc) uniform, not anyone else. They stood there in full riot gear in front of pink-clad dancing youngsters that just wanted their streets and their human rights back -- the ones the Charter promises them. The image was surreal. For a moment, visions of Tiananmen Square flooded my mind.

Videos are abound on YouTube of police's incomprehensible behavior and use of force when it wasn't necessary and the lack of it when it was. Police didn't protect anyone Saturday when goons smashed windows all over downtown, and they sure as hell didn't protect anyone Sunday when they arrested and detained peaceful protesters in the rain for hours.

By now, the police have zero credibility now in the eyes of many. Quite truthfully, when I listen to one of them talk, hoping to get a glimpse of understanding, they don't even make sense. It's hard to believe a man with a shaky voice who looks like he knows he'll be made the scapegoat come investigation time. And all this time, not one decent police officer came forth and spoke out, not one refused to attack a peaceful crowd.

Peaceful G20 protest at Queen & Spadina from Meghann Millard on Vimeo.

Those goons that smashed the windows and burned police cars, and those officers that trampled my human rights are no different. Both are breaking the law (or what should be law if they didn't pass a secret one that gives police extra power and allows them to deny my "right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure;" and my "right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned"). They were both scary, and both acted like thugs who disregard the people around them and their surrounding.

My friend Ryan says I'm just experiencing a moment of clarity. That Canada has always been a police state, and that recent events just showed it to everybody. I'm starting to think he may have a point.

The whole world cheered when they tore down the Berlin Wall. And so many demonstrated and opposed the wall Israel has built around the territories. Don't they know by now that walls are just plain bad? Have they not figured it out yet?