“Are you scared?”
“Are you stupid?”
These were the usual questions asked of me as colleagues and friends started to hear about my G20 Toronto reporting assignment. If you have been following local media over the last two weeks, you would think the equivalent of World War Three is set to erupt in Toronto.
“Toronto the Good” is now called “Fortress Toronto” by some. Massive security fencing and concrete barriers, with both an impressive and ominous growing presence of law enforcement, have taken over downtown Toronto.
Criticism has been levied at our federal government for the over $1 billion price tag for hosting the G8 summit in Muskoka and the G20 in Toronto.
Considering the public and commercial institutions that need to be protected, let alone the peaceful demonstrators and international dignitaries, the high price tag is inevitable.
The right to protest is incredibly important and it will be great to see such protests, as long as they are peaceful. Violent protest is not necessary, it is misguided and shame on you if you think it is.
Professional anarchists among peaceful demonstrators are a reality that the host of any summit needs to guard against.
Dear so-called “resistance” voices- please spare us the asinine claims that Toronto is now a police state. Rallies that claim to”take back our city” are misguided. A security zone has been set up to avoid unnecessary violence and public disruption.
Debate and peaceful public demonstrations are welcome. Dear demonstrators- for the sake of our hometown, make your arguments logically, loudly and clearly, minus the anarchist rhetoric like “taking back our city” and “free speech now” etc.
These security forces are not “invading our streets”, they are being employed to protect public infrastructure, the summit and the public. It is naive to think that summit organizers should not seriously consider anarchist-troublemaker threats, let alone concerns of potential bold terrorist strikes.
No one has taken this city from everyone. In fact, the very fact we do live in an open and tolerant country gives us all the ability to protest peacefully…intelligently…on the international stage that the G20 provides. What a platform to bring critical issues to light if done right!
There is no “police state” here, if it were, there would be no need for a security zone. In a police state, every corner, every side street, every park or community centre is fair game to be controlled… to be intimidated… to strike fear in.
Most of us consider Toronto a world-class city and to do so we need to host events like the G20. We need to welcome the leaders of the world and most importantly, we need to show future summit demonstrators that peaceful, effective public demonstrations are possible.