Illlustrated account from the streets of Toronto during the Saturday riot after the protest rally shows small groups of hooligans and confused police.
by Stuart Thomson, with Laura Osman
TORONTO, June 26, 2010 – Straight Goods News, with YouTube video: Saturday's march started off peacefully, with thousands of protesters singing, chanting and holding signs and banners. Various unions were represented and groups protesting the treatment of Tamils, Palestinians and Tibetans were also in attendance. Here's a live Twitter commentary from Straight Goods reporter Stuart Thomson:
12:43 – More of a party atmosphere than yesterday: singing, dancing and drumming. And a girl just set up a table and ate cake in the street.
12:44 – Really worried about water damage on my electronics gadgets. Would be tweeting more but my hands and jacket are drenched through.
12:55 – A guy was walking down the street rapping into his friend's video camera. My favourite sight so far.
At the end of the march was a group of about 50 people dressed all in black. Straight Goods News was filming and they reacted aggressively, lunging at the camera and trying to break it. Seriously, that thing is going to get smashed, one of them shouted.
1:15 – Asked one of them if he supported a free media and he said no. Just FYI.
1:19 – For the record, one did push me and try to punch me. He was about as skinny as me though so it was pretty tame
There was a brief confrontation at John Street, with some protesters (the ones in black) throwing red paint at the police officers. The march continued, but soon stalled at Spadina where a flare was lit by one of the protesters draped in black. It soon became clear that this was a signal and the group took off running down Queen St. leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.
As the destruction began, the peaceful protesters mainly dispersed and the vandals splintered off throughout the downtown core. Police were tracking down the trouble and shutting off the streets by charging up them, batons and shields at the ready. It was not uncommon for people who were simply passing through to find a row of riot police charging up the street at them. The fire mentioned below turned out to be one of the police cars that was set ablaze.
2:34 – CBC van with windows broken. Your tax dollars paid for that van!
2:52 – Cops chased us away from the fire. We were very suspiciously running towards it against the flow of black clad protesters who were fleeing.
3:56 – One cop yelling at another after they charged: "Next time do as you're told!" Anarchy in the ranks?
4:05 – Two cars on fire. Keep hearing small bangs from about 200m away.
5:13 – The cop cars being decoys sounds plausible as it made absolutely no sense for them to be there at the time.
The trouble continued to move around the city and it became harder and harder to track it down. After stopping for dinner we tried to make our way across the city, only to get caught in another police crackdown. Several men with batons, who seemed to be working with the cops (perhaps undercover officers) chased down a suspect and dragged him roughly back to their van.
8:09 – (CBC Reporter) Susan Ormiston just said it's a game of cat and mouse for the cops. It's like that for the media too!
8:31 – Large, wild-looking men wielding batons and dressed in plain clothes just chased and detained a black male. We got caught in the melee.
8:32 – One bunch of cops told me to get out of there and shoved me into another group of cops who said the same thing. They seem erratic.
8:35 – I really want to know who those un-uniformed men were. They were extremely rough with us, stark contrast to how cops have behaved until now.
8:36 – When I say un-uniformed, I mean that I thought they were homeless guys when they were first running at me.
8:40 – Reason I know they were cops is because they helped uniformed cops detain someone.
8:42 – It was down College, past Bay. They had CP24 cameras there but the cops made them leave.
8:44 – It's really eerie to walk one block into tranquillity, and then walk another block into a phalanx of police officers. Seems to alternate.
8:55 – I've been roughed up about equally by both Black Bloc people and police officers today.
8:57 – I think the main problem is that troublemakers are so dispersed now. Just spoke to one cop who said they have "no idea" what's going on.
8:58 – The officer said they were having terrible radio problems.
9:06 – Also, (Straight Goods News reporter Laura Osman) asked the officer if there were plain-clothed cops helping out and was told not that the officer knew.
9:33 – The subway is closed and many intersections are too. Police are in a wee bit of disarray, I think.
9:47 – Cops seem to have a much greater sense of urgency as night starts to fall. A lot of them look really tired.
9:48 – Can't say I blame them for looking tired, it's been a long, soggy, tense day.
9:51 – At this point, there's no protest anymore and there hasn't been for a while. Just people mingling on street corners in front of rows of cops.
9:52 – Oh wait, huge group marching south, peacefully down Yonge Street, apparently.
9:59 – Time to charge my phone. We were escorted by cops to the apartment.