Stephen Harper always struck me as a bully, but this past weekend, he proved to the world that he really was one. Like any good bully, he got his cronies, in this case the Toronto Police, to do all the dirty work and some of it was quite dirty.
After standing by as their own cars burned and the windows of some local businesses got smashed by black bloc agent provocatâ€¦erâ€¦anarchists, the Toronto cops proceeded to round up close to a thousand people. Most of them were peaceful protesters and some of them were just ordinary Torontonians who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
They rounded up people singing O Canada, independent media with credentials and pretty much anyone in their way. They administered quite a few beatings as well, even to people who stated that they were not resisting arrest and to a 57-year-old man with one leg who had his prosthetic leg ripped off during the attack and was promptly told to hop on one leg.
People were detained for hours on end, others days. One of our correspondents here at Forget The Box was also arrested for no good reason and reported on the conditions of her detainment. While it’s the type of story that can make anyone who believes in the right to protest squirm, sadly, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Shortly after the spectacle ended, reports surfaced of police giving rape threats to some female detainees and male officers strip-searching female protesters. I’ll let journalist Amy Miller tell the story:
If you go with Naomi Klein’s take on events, all the repression was basically a labour action by the cops in order to justify the billion plus spent on security, which they had asked and been criticized for. That makes sense, but let’s not forget that the ultimate decision to allow such a budget and in fact to allow such an event to take place in Toronto in the first place lies with the government.
Could Harper not have known that holding his elaborate photo-op in a large city where he has no elected MPs would draw serious resistance and opposition? Could he not have known that strongarm police tactics would only lead to negative press and distract attention from any decisions made inside the summit?
Well, maybe that’s the point. Maybe the G20 didn’t have much new to say. Honestly I don’t have the slightest clue what happened inside the meetings and I really don’t care. The real politics at play here are the politics of an emerging police state where dissenters and other assorted random people are rounded up and abused.
Yes, our minority Prime Minister is acting like a despot and wants everyone to know it. He wants people to know that he can occupy a major city, hold a photo op that could be held anywhere and there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it. He’s on a power trip and civil liberties won’t rain on his parade.
Hopefully, people will keep making this an issue. There have been several solidarity actions since, so let’s hope this keeps up and let’s also hope it can be used to throw Harper out. If that happens, I only hope that it is clear that it is Harper’s bully tactics that cost him his job and similar suppressions of the right to protest will not be tolerated in Canadaâ€¦ever!