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Stereotypes

How I hate it when people live up to stereotypes.

I look at the G20 coverage and that’s all I see. We had people marching peacefully for good causes, whose messages will now never be heard. We had the riot-helmeted cops marching in rows. We had idiots who like to break things and nobody stopped them despite 900 arrests — at a billion dollars of security, that’s $1,111,111 per arrest, never mind that the vast majority had charges dropped and were released in short order. We had media covering the people who break things instead of the people with interesting things to say. We had protest-tourists who stood around uselessly watching things go pear-shaped, tweeting and snapping photos. And we had millions of us who just stayed home and let it all happen.

I hate it all — well, all except the folks who were marching peacefully and using their democratic right to have their say. I’m fully in support of peaceful demonstrations.

But how can the Toronto police, who normally let small children pat the noses of horses in riot gear, who line Yonge and high-five a million people and politely confiscate open beers whenever we win any sort of sports thing, who happily close off part of University Avenue for two weeks while Tamils have their say in front of the US Consulate, have allowed themselves to be such immense jerks?

How can anyone — dressed in name-brand black outfits (note Fila pants) and Kevlar body armour — have such an overwhelming sense of entitlement that they think randomly smashing up other people’s stuff is either fun or OK?

How can anyone — given the presence of fifty or more other nearby observers — stand there blinking like sheep and watch someone smash stuff up? I mean, look at these people in the background; they’re pretending it’s TV:

Shame, shame. Also, as we would say in college: WEAK. Dudes, whatever kind of society you’re advocating for, count me the hell OUT. That kind of crap is why I stayed home.

I think that was probably our collective mistake, giving in to the imposed fear and inconvenience and failing to say “eff it, I’m a Canadian, this is my city, and I’m going to continue to live my life,” going to our offices and restaurants and shows and walking our dogs and generally continuing life downtown despite the lack of transit or the presence of eleventy-gazillion police in riot gear or whatever. After all, what’s the point of inflicting house arrest on ourselves in the name of security? Would this all have unfolded differently if we-the-people in our millions didn’t collectively abdicate our responsibility to be ourselves, thus leaving downtown a howling wasteland / combat zone where everyone present fell into one of four or five stereotypical roles? What if we kept the focus squarely where it belongs in a democracy such as ours: on freedom-to instead of freedom-from?

It makes no sense. None of it makes any sense. And it’s all very disappointing, to put it mildly.

THIS is my Toronto: police marching WITH today’s anti-brutality protestors.

This is also my Toronto, courtesy of a friend on Facebook (and if anyone runs across a link to the video, which was apparently on tonight’s news, I’d love to add it) edit – here it is:

…just saw what is probably my favourite video of the mayhem in Toronto this weekend: Some guy in a black shirt & bandana smashes the window of downtown electronics store and grabs something. This Joe walking by in a polo shirt & knapsack tackles him, takes away the thing, throws it back in the store, then just gets up and continues walking the direction he was going.

Thanks, Joe. You may have been the only honorable person in Toronto this weekend.

2 Responses to “Stereotypes”

I don’t condone the violence. I don’t but I get it. I cannot imagine what I’d do, living in a city that’s been taken over, turned into a police state and ruled by martial law. I like to think I wouldn’t get violent, but I dunno.

And anyway, there’s all kinds of evidence coming in suggesting that there were cops doing damage while posing as black bloc types. See this and this for starters.

Robyn says:

I suppose that would be an excellent tactic: distract everyone by causing havoc some distance away from the actual summit. Shameful if true, of course.