6.26.2010

save a little outrage for the real criminals, part two

I just came home from the G20 protests, and all anyone can talk about is "the violence". The media, the mayor, the politicians, the "person on the street" interviews - all agog over "the violence".

Newsflash. People smashing windows or setting a cop car on fire is a minor inconvenience.

People appointing themselves spokespeople for the planet in closed-door meetings, destroying social safety nets, commodifying and privatizing every earthly resource, making war, making poverty, destroying oceans, air and water: this is the Bad Thing.

A billion dollars of our tax money wasted, secret laws passed, pre-dawn raids on citizens' homes, pre-emptive arrests, criminalizing dissent, turning a city into a ghost town: this is the Bad Thing.

But all anyone can talk about is "the violence".

Ten thousand - I've just heard it was 25,000 - people were upset and angry enough to spend the day marching in the rain - peacefully, I may add - but all anyone can talk about is "the violence".

Why doesn't someone ask us why we are marching with a giant coat hanger? Ask us why we don't recognize the G8 or G20 as legitimate, why we oppose their very existence, why we call them liars and criminals and murderers.

Ask us why 2,000 people filled Massey Hall last night, ask us what our problem is: we can list them all.

But no, just show endless footage of the burning cop car and a skirmish with police. There, you've covered the protest.

Back in February, I said, save a little outrage for the real criminals. I was frustrated and appalled that Canadians appeared more horrified by a little vandalism in Vancouver than in the larger vandalism of the Olympics themselves. Today, it's even worse. I'm not surprised, but I sure am disgusted.

When people are not heard, when democratic channels are thwarted and ignored, frustration boils over. Some people express that frustration by smashing things. Big fucking deal. The only thing that bothers me about that expression is how the response to it overshadows everything else.

Save your outrage for the G20 itself.

22 comments:

alterwords said...

Now I have to listen while people I know and thought I liked talk about the horrors of window violence. Thank you for giving me something else to listen to.

L-girl said...

Thank you, my friend.

skdadl said...

Well said, Laura. I wish I could have stood with you, and I'm glad you're home safe.

Scott M. said...

For those who think the Police aren't provoking some of this violence, check out the tweets of Steven Paikin. Hardly a "lefty", he's probably one of the most respected journalists in the country.

Startling:
- here come the cops again. weapons drawn. ppl sitting again. middle of esplanade
- crowd surrounded. cops on both sides now
- can't tell what kinl of weapons are being pointed. can't be live rounds, can it? new riot squad now here. why? this is peaceful.
- the police should be smart & do nothing. this is not a violent crowd. they keep insisting it's a peaceful protest
- cops tightening their perimeter. why? they are forcing something they dont need to force
- weapons are rubber bullets

impudent strumpet said...

Now I've got relatives who are watching only the most sensationalist TV coverage and don't know Toronto calling me up convinced that I'm surrounded by burning police cars.

And not listening to me at all when I tell them that's only a tiny fraction of the whole story.

johngoldfine said...

Your third and fourth grafs are very, very eloquent.

Unfortunately none of the items listed gives as easy and obvious a story hook or camera shot as a single broken window. Hence, the violense chatter....

L-girl said...

Thank you all.

John, you're right re the easy story hook. I'd go a step further and point out that much of the mainstream media is owned by the corporations that profit from what comes out of summits like the G20, so they have no interest in uncovering and revealing to the public what they are about. More on that in my next post when I paraphrase Amy Goodman.

Scott, thank you very much for that. You can be the Steve Paikin of wmtc - hardly a lefty, well-respected and level-headed, and willing to speak the truth even when it's uncomfortable and inconvenient.

I saw a lot of tweets like that on FB yesterday. I wonder if Allan might gather them to post on wmtc.

L-girl said...

@buhfy [Toronto Star reporter Jennifer Yang]

For the
record, there were definitely (seated) protesters hit by batons and
peppersprayed as they tried to leave. Saw w/my own eyes #g20

L-girl said...

Imp Strump, that's a thankless job and a losing proposition. I've been there. I hate it.

L-girl said...

Rabble: police let rioters run amok, then struck back hard at all demonstrators

L-girl said...

I see the Paikin tweets are making the rounds on the blogosphere, FB, email and (I assume) Twitter. Excellent.

"Mainstream non-lefty white guy, we'll listen to him!"

redsock said...

Rabble: police let rioters run amok, then struck back hard at all demonstrators

Anyone get a good look at the rioters' shoes?

L-girl said...

Yup, I thought of the same thing. I noticed Alex L posted the Montebello shoe video on FB saying "we should all re-watch this and remember".

Then later I saw someone asking, "Why do rioters and police wear the same boots?"

Hm.

johngoldfine said...

My experience in fights is that one stops thinking, literally sees red, loses all peripheral vision and a lot of one's hearing, and operates physically and reactively exclusively. Whatever their training, some of that is happening to riot police faced with a crowd. That's no excuse for outrageous, brutal behavior and certainly is no justification for banning demos, but perhaps it helps explain.

L-girl said...

John, I know what you're talking about. The same thing happens to me in discussions/debates on certain subjects! I call it that, seeing red. My buttons get pushed and stupid anger comes out of my mouth.

But why are cops seeing red when faced with peaceful people in a designated protest area who are just milling about carrying signs or sitting on the grass?

I know you're not excusing it. And your explanation works in some riot situations, for sure. But not here.

redsock said...

but these cops are supposed to be specifically trained how to deal with potential violent situations -- without immediately whipping out a gun or taser.

johngoldfine said...

Their adrenaline is high. Given that, you can assume they simply lose it (and that's pretty much what I think)(and a few minutes with youtube watching cops' unruly tempers in ordinary traffic stops is instructive about cops' personalities)--or you can assume, on the contrary, that they are acting under orders to intentionally provoke and brutalize.

That certainly is possible. The thinking would have to be that it's worth any negative publicity (and that can be partially neutralized with a few 'violent' broken windows) if it keeps demonstrators' numbers significantly down. Of course, there's no way of proving that police action is actually affecting numbers--and how do such orders go out without leaving a dangerous paper trail?

As I say, I'm inclined to believe the problem is an ugly police culture fielding a collection of jackbooted (you, an Orwell reader, must pardon that expression) hotheads. The higher-ups know what will probably happen once cops meet demonstrators so no orders are necessary.

johngoldfine said...

I've just read Allan's guest post and take the point about the clear and obvious possibility of agent- provocateurs and agree the evidence for that is perhaps more likely than for the simple bunch of rowdy brutes I was imagining.

impudent strumpet said...

Even if it's a perfectly normal human reaction that can't be trained out of people, the fact still remains that I'm afraid of our police, and the more I learn the more afraid I become. (For those not breathlessly following my every move, I live in Toronto but am not involved in the demonstrations.)

I don't think the police want me to be afraid of them, I think they want me to trust them (at least based on the number of people on twitter who have scolded me for not trusting police), but there's all this seemingly random escalation. A friend of mine was at Queen and Spadina just going about her ordinary life in the general vicinity of a peaceful demonstration, then they suddenly got boxed on on 4 sides by riot police who now seem to be arresting everyone including passers-by. She hasn't tweeted in 3 hours.

impudent strumpet said...

(Just got word that my friend from my previous comment is home and safe. Don't have the story yet.)

L-girl said...

I'm glad to hear that. I wonder if she was caught in this.

impudent strumpet said...

That's exactly what she was caught in. While going about her own business in her own neighbourhood.

I did something that seemed silly this morning. I dressed in a costume to go about my everyday errands. Put together the most June Cleaverish outfit I could - feminine, conservative, completely impractical for combat - so that in case the police randomly decided to swoop down on me, it would be as apparent as possible that I'm harmless. And if I did get arrested, then at least I'd look ridiculously out of place, and maybe it would make a useful picture.

Turns out it wasn't a stupid idea. The only reason I'm safe and my friend wasn't is because my neighbourhood is a bit further away from the security zone.