5.31.2009

bush protest in t.o.: brief report and links to video

The Bush-Clinton demo was great! The weather was gorgeous, and people started gathering in Simcoe Park (next to the CBC building and across from the Metro Convention Centre where Bush and Clinton were appearing) long before the 3:00 start time.

There was music, food, information tables, an art area where people were painting, and signs galore. A huge canvas with Bush's face was unrolled, and people were invited to take turns throwing shoes at it. When the kids present took their turn - children of US war resisters and some little girls in hijabs - the cameras were rolling.

The festivities went on for about two hours before the main rally began. Two "prisoners" in orange jumpsuits - heads covered in hoods, wrists shackled - were led to the stage. We all donned latex gloves smeared with red paint, symbolizing the blood on Bush's hands. The organizers - mostly people from the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War with an assist from the War Resisters Support Campaign - did an brilliant job of making our cause visible.

The Convention Centre facade is glass, and people attending the Bush-Clinton event lined up at an upper window to gawk and take pictures on their cell phones. Many hundreds of us were amassed at the barricades, facing them, holding signs and raised fists, and chanting, "Arrest George Bush!". The air was crackling with our energy and our anger.

I was very disappointed not to make it to the first night of "Global Crisis, Global Resistance," this year's Marxism conference. Friday night was the only time I could attend, but after leafletting, tabling, chanting and such, all of it on our feet and most of it in the sun, then helping to clean up a bit, we needed to sit, and to eat something, and it was suddenly too late to go. But it was great to be a part of the demo.

I did hear that Matthis Chiroux was unable to participate. He was supposed to speak by Skype from his hospital bed, but was not able to. That was a disappointment, but also a small consolation for me, as he was the speaker I most wanted to hear.

Here are links to some photos and videos from the day. If you find any others, please leave them in comments and I'll update the post.

This Newsfix video is a good summary of the event. Look for the back of our huge yellow banner as organizer James Clark is being interviewed.

This NewsFix link has video of shoe-throwing kids, and of activist hip-hop artist Ali Ameer. Don't miss the slideshow on the same page.

Photos from a demonstrator on Flickr.

Pictures and video on CBC. That huge yellow banner reads "STOP DEPORTING US WAR RESISTERS!" and it was in the front of the demo for a long time.

5 comments:

Cornelia said...

Cool!

Jennifer Smith said...

Sorry I missed you! Not that I would have recognized you, but still :) I actually scored tickets (discounted) along with a couple of other bloggers so I missed most of the fun, but I did manage to get some footage of the protesters that I posted on YouTube and on my blog last night. It's too bad more people didn't show up. Omar said the Tamil protesters were supposed to come down, but I guess they never did.

I'll be writing up my impressions of the talk itself later today, but in summary: Bush really is just as big a jackass in person.

L-girl said...

I'm not sure what you mean - there were A LOT of protestors, and the Tamil community was represented. The little park we were in was quite crowded.

You went to the Bush-Clinton event? To protest from inside?

Jennifer Smith said...

We may have missed the height of the crowd, but before we went in and after we came out it only looked like a few hundred. I was at the Culture Rally in the same park last year and it seemed like we had a lot more. I could be wrong, although I suspect it might have been more effective to have the main events timed for when those attending could have actually seen it.

And no, we didn't go in to protest per se - we went in to observe and report. Since there were no cameras or recording devices allowed, even for the media, and since the MSM wasn't likely to be especially critical in their reporting, we thought it was important for people with a more progressive point of view to attend and give their take on it.

Think of it as throwing virtual shoes :)

L-girl said...

Interesting. To me, personally, it doesn't matter what was actually said there. Both men are there for their own profit, both literally in terms of their speaking fees, and to rehabilitate and bolster their own images. I think the only important event was the one outside.

I admire your ability to attend, though! I could never do that. It wouldn't be safe.