A Rainy Day in Toronto

by maxmosher

Well, they’ve done it: they succeeded in hijacking the G20 meeting for their purposes, mysterious as they may be. And I’m not talking about protestors hijacking it away from politicians. I’m referring to the black-clad anarchists stealing the all attention from the peaceful protestors.

It was a surreal day at work. It was a busy afternoon, rainy, so lots of people coming in and sitting around. Other than the occasional flock of police cars racing by the windows, there was nothing to suggest that it wasn’t a usual Saturday afternoon. But eventually someone turned on the Toronto Star live updates blog of the protests downtown, and we took turns reading and refreshing the screen (while helping customers in a timely and courteous manner). It was like reading updates from another city entirely; cars on fire; shattered windows; tear gas that may or may not have worked; police goaded on by protestors who may or may not have been undercover cops. The mom of one of my coworkers was downtown and she was not able to reach her cell phone. “They’ve probably blocked reception,” someone suggested.

One of the updates had a quote from a protestor claiming that only big businesses which used sweatshop labour would be targeted. We all had a bit of a chuckle over American Apparel being vandalized (does anyone have good feelings about that store?), but smashed windows of Starbucks (where I used to work) and Swiss Chalet (where my family used to go for special occasions) hit a little close to home. Where’s the Swiss Chalet sweatshop?

I don’t think it’s as bad as it could be, and I don’t think anything terrible will happen. It’s just depressing because a lot of thoughtful, non-violent people like Sandy participated and will be ignored on the six o’clock news for the sensational footage of destruction. If anti-G20 protests are to continue (that is, if G20 meetings are to continue) there needs to be a reckoning between those with legitimate grievances, relevant issues and peaceful intentions, and those flown-in professional protestors, brave enough to smash windows but not enough to show their face.