We saw and heard it all over the weekend: the peaceful protests and the self-described anarchists called the Black Bloc, as the G20 leaders came to Toronto.
I’m amused when the discussion of methods of protesting descends into the “right” to protest. Just because you have the right to protest, which you certainly do, doesn’t mean you’re allowed to do it in any way your little brain imagines. Holding signs and chanting? All good. Throwing rocks and bottles at police just because they’re police? Not good. Hello tiny jail cell with a shared, open-air toilet.
The Black Bloc is a group of anti-corporation, violence-loving people all clad in black. They’re very well organized and stay connected via radios (Made by whom? Corporations!) and hide behind masks and helmets (Made by whom??) so that when one emerges from the crowd to pelt a police officer or smash a window, they can slink back into the group virtually unnoticed. They create chaos and then ditch their clothes for regular ones making it difficult to track them. A CTV producer apparently got caught up in the melee and ended up under arrest. Oh well, that doesn’t upset me really. We’re dealing with humans and in the midst of confusing chaos mistakes can be made. If you’re a journalist working a crazy protest, stuff happens. There’s a great story in the experience of spending a night in a jail cell.
Protests can be the catalysts for change but I thought that the idea was to explain yourself to bring others onside to create a louder voice to call for that change. Most of this weekend’s protests were a complete turnoff. Destruction, mayhem, violence – screaming at police officers who are our neighbours and fellow citizens, “how much do they pay you?” Not enough, judging by what was required of them on the weekend. Not nearly enough.