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G20 first anniversary protest…

June 28, 2011

I’m sorry, but does no one see the irony in the fact that at Saturday’s G20 first anniversary protest march – highlighting the police abuses that occurred last year, calling for the resignation of Police Chief Bill Blair, asking for a full and independent public inquiry, and demanding an end to the delays (the hiding behind the thin blue line) in the internal investigation of what happened – that there were more police marshalling the protest through the streets of downtown Toronto than there were actual protesters?

The march was preceded by about thirty cops who cheerfully cleared intersections and directed traffic; while the edges of the march were controlled by a solid line of police officers who made sure that the march took up only one side of the street and stayed off the sidewalk; and the entire charade was followed by about forty cops (plus a couple of cruisers, a paddy wagon, an ambulance, and the City TV news van). 

Strange that as the marchers (maybe 300 or so) shouted anti-abuse slogans as they travelled along Queen West (“down with police violence” etc), they were also happily chatting away with said police. It was as if they were all acting out their designated roles in the theatre of the absurd.

I imagined the police locker-room earlier that morning…(a la Monty Python)

(Police Officer #1 undressing from street clothes in change room. Joined by P.O. #2.)

“Morning George.”

“Morning.”

“What on the schedule for today, George.”

“It appears that we have a protest today.”

(Begins to put on riot gear.)

“A protest! Jolly good. I like getting out of the car every now and then. Jenny says I’m getting a little fat. A nice walk will do me good.” (Armored vest looks a little too small for the size of officer’s physique.)

“I keep telling you to join us for some basketball at the Y.”

“Maybe I will. What sort of protest do you suppose it is, today?”

“Hmm. Let me look. (#2 walks over to the wall and looks at the posted list of “upcoming protests”.) It says it’s some sort of anti-police protest.”

“Anti-police, you say? Has it been a year already? There’s usually some pretty good grass at those hippie protests. And it’s supposed to be good weather today.”

“Quite nice actually, yes. They say it might be a little warm later. But not too bad, I think.”

“That’s good. I hate when it gets too hot. My paton always gets so slippery when my hand sweats.” (Both men admire their patons before sliding them into their sheaths.)

“I know what you mean. Are you and wife still coming over for a bar-be-que after work?”

(George puts on riot helmet, muffling his voice.) “Yes, yes. Of course. Wouldn’t miss it…”

 —

I was inside BMV Books and I noted that the Bob Dylan music playing was just loud enough that the shoppers couldn’t hear – and therefore didn’t even notice the march passing by. And in the streets the people went about their day, hands full of shopping bags, barely giving the march a glance or a thought.

Ah, I thought to myself. Our post-modern democracy. Lots of irony, very little content.

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