G20 Protests in Toronto

It’s been almost a week since I was in Toronto, taking part in the G20 protests.

I’m not nearly as smart or articulate as the folks I heard speak at Massey Hall last Friday night, but I think I’ll make a few comments about my own experiences, then quote from a few of the amazingly intelligent speakers at that “Shout Out for Global Justice!” event organized by the Council of Canadians. I’ll do a separate post of the contents of a newsletter I received the other day that has oodles of good links/resources in it.

My protest observations:

First of all, the 2 rallies/marches I took part in were utterly peaceful. They weren’t just peaceful; they were joyful! It’s so energizing & inspiring, always, taking over the streets of a big city & marching with thousands of others who don’t just give a darn about what’s going on in the world, they are raising their voices together & DOING something about it!!

I walked along with some folks I know who make music & occasional rousing chants about some of the craziness that’s happening in the world. I loved their music & their spirits, & for sure they cheered up everyone who could hear them. Music, eh?? So essential – so inspiring – so spirits-lifting…

I loved the chant I heard on both days: “Whose streets?? Our streets! Whose streets?? Our streets!” The governments of Canada & Ontario & perhaps Toronto & definitely the police seem to have forgotten that the streets are indeed ours

Someone also chanted “THIS is what democracy looks like” & I loved that too. Democracy isn’t always quiet & sedate & well-behaved & all about colouring inside the lines. It’s noisy & messy & loud & sometimes fractious & eclectic & unpredictable – & for sure it’s about diversity (not sameness), & it’s fun & funny & music is definitely involved (or should be!!) Think about families. If they are not little tinpot dictatorships, they are all those things I just listed. Life is messy, & sometimes it’s loud!! That’s just real!

Protesting is fun!! For sure, we protesters were having a whole heck of a lot more fun than the black-suited & scarily-attired cops who later in the day Saturday began to get out of control (speaking of out of control!) Yes, there was destruction of property – & while I am not personally the brick-throwing type, I am also not cool with cops arresting innocent bystanders indiscriminately, or taking away our basic civil rights (with the federal & provincial governments’ help) or leaving people locked up without charges for days...

When I had to break with the marchers on Friday afternoon (nature, as they say, called), I went over to a bar for a bathroom break & a beer. I heard the Queen song “We are the champions, my friend, & we’ll keep on fighting, ‘till the end!”  & I thought “Yeah………”

Okay.

Friday night some of the finest minds/best voices on the planet spoke at Massey Hall.

Clayton Thomas-Muller from the Indigenous Environmental Network spoke about aboriginal issues & the tar sands (unfortunately, I arrived late & missed much of his talk). Tar sands: a horrific blight on the earth. To put it very, very mildly indeed…

Vandana Shiva, founder of Navdanya, who said she was there because of her relationship with Council of Canadians head, Maude Barlow. I had not been aware that Ms. Shiva was once upon a time involved in the nuclear industry (one of the smart ones – who bailed!). She is very, very concerned about the nuclear agenda being pushed in India, & also pointed out that the G20 agenda cannot be achieved without militarization (the United Nations is able to meet without all the security associated w. the G20 gatherings…).

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! spoke of “drilling, spilling & killing,” & pointed out that instead of prosecuting actual criminals, cops are arresting peaceful protesters. Dissent has been criminalized – yet it is dissent that will save us.

She pointed out that it is the “uninvited guests” at the G20 who have something to say – yet those are not the voices that get heard. In the U.S., the Tea Party gets lots of media coverage, while the voices of dissent – who have lots of constructive world-changing advice & efforts to offer – are not heard. Not invited – not wanted – not heard – not represented in the corporate media (we have achieved invisibility, it seems!)

& she pointed out that we should not have to get a (criminal) record when we try to put things on the record. There must be some truth that the G20 organizers don’t want to get out, she added.

John Hilary, Executive Director of the War on Want, said he works with some of the most inspiring people in the world.

Pablo Solon, Bolivian Ambassador to the United Nations, spoke passionately about the need for water to be declared a human right.

Naomi Klein said the G20 is an attempt to sideline the United Nations, & Maude Barlow used the phrase “savage capitalism.”

David Coles, President of the Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union of Canada said “We don’t accept their bullshit!” & invited all to attend the “People First” public rally & march at Queen’s Park (home of the province of Ontario’s legislature) on Saturday.

I wish I’d taken lots more notes! I was in “the nose-bleeder” section, seat-wise, was kind of tired & fried & couldn’t hear (or think) all that well (probably ‘cos of hours of marching in the sun & chanting & all, during Friday afternoon’s march. Not complaining, you understand, just stating a fact!)

You can find the speeches, though, at rabble.ca

At least one more posting (& maybe more) on the G20 to follow…

Janet

'Quote of the day' w. this post: To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards out of men.” Abraham Lincoln