Public Values

EDITORIAL: Photos, eyewitness accounts and reports raise questions that only a full judicial inquiry can answer

Globe pix point to possible repeat of Montebello outrage.

This segment of a Globe photo indicates raises questions about possible agents Ish Theilheimer

Toronto, June 27, 2010: An online publication has posted a disturbing series of photos taken during yesterday's riot in Toronto following the huge, peaceful anti-G20 rally. Terry Burrows of looked at photos of the riot published in the Globe and Mail and drew troubling conclusions.

It is not necessary to agree with all of Burrows' political views or conclusions to share his concerns. He presents several close-ups of rioters taken from the Globe's photos that reveal a disturbing pattern. Many of the rioters — caught by photographers in the act of breaking windows and trashing a police car — are physically fit, well fed, and dressed in apparently new clothes.

And all appear to be wearing similar, new-looking boots obviously made for rough use (possibly combat boots). They don't look like street people or unemployed "ne'er-do-wells". Burrows argues the boots are the same as the riot police were wearing, but that conclusion is not certain from the photos. Unquestionably, though, many vandals are wearing new combat-type boots, probably unaffordable for most street toughs.

In 2007, in Montebello, Quebec at the global summit called to discuss the "Security and Prosperity Partnership", police officers dressed as "Black Bloc" protesters were exposed, on camera, as agents provocateurs — outsiders who start trouble in order to discredit protest and justify mass arrests. Photos of their boots confirmed their exposure: they were identical to boots worn by uniformed police there. The Quebec police were forced to apologize.

The level of violence on the streets of Toronto, and the failure of police to stop it, has taken the spotlight away from the G20's failure to make progress on global issues. The riot served to discredit the protest movement, and played into Stephen Harper's law-and-order agenda. With the whole world wondering how things could be allowed to get so out of hand in "Toronto, the Good", the photo and video evidence both from this article and from the hundreds of camcorders and digital cameras that were out on the street require a great deal of review.

Questions abound:

  • Why did the Tactical Police Squad seem unprepared for yesterday's tactics?
  • Why did it take them so long to get to the downtown locations (in contrast, during the evening and today, they seemed to be easily anywhere and everywhere)?
  • Why did it take so long to put out the fires?
  • Why did they detain a summit credential bearing CTV producer?
  • Why did they beat on a 'journalist' from the Guardian, according to TV personality Steve Paikin (the Guardian describes him as a Canadian journalist who has written for their website)
  • Why did they bust up a seemingly peaceful demo at the Novatel last evening?
  • Why did the police suddenly turn on seemingly peaceful protesters at the Eastern Avenue detention site?

Most fundamentally, why was the summit held in a city like Toronto in the first place, at enormous cost to the economy and tremendous inconvenience to residents? If regular summits of world leaders are important, they should be held in some permanent location equipped to handle them. At the very least, the fences, the police presence, and all the restricted zones and curtailed civil liberties created an impossible situation both for legitimate protesters and the police.

With all the concerns about security at the summit, and the damages to the local economy and civil liberties, a full public judicial inquiry into this stain on Canada's and Toronto's reputations is absolutely required.

Links and sources
  Images on Global Reseach website
  G20 Day of Protest – Globe and Mail "In Pictures" feature

Posted: June 27, 2010

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