I have to say that now that a lot of people are talking about the G20 and the protests in Toronto and it has been helpful to participate in various events to reflect on the gains and limitations of G20 organizing. I don't mind suggestions of moving forward or reflections, and I appreciate all the attempts to sit down and discuss various debates. But I grow increasingly impatient when a sentence starts with, "You know, what YOU should have done is this." Um, you could have done this yourself! Maybe people saw the Toronto Community Mobilization Network as something larger than we actually were. I know the TCMN was portrayed as some criminal mastermind with super-villian abilities. But in truth, there were a lot of things we wanted to do but couldn't. Not because we were lazy or unimaginative. But because there were just a few of us working on things like fundraising, getting a convergence space together, dealing with housing, transportation, and communications.
But as we reflect, I figure I would respond to my top five favorite post-G20 suggestions:
1. "What you should have done was organize a blockade and take over the QEW or 401."
Thanks for the suggestion! I appreciate your enthusiasm for disruption! However, the TCMN never set out to organize actions. We did specific call outs for communities and groups to respond to the G20 as they see fit. But boy, it would have been exciting to see that happen. Perhaps this is something you could have tried to do and asked for help from other communities who have done this before. Oh well! Maybe next time!
2. "What you should have done was not protest at all and embarrass the government for spending 1 billion dollars in security for nothing."
Actually, a lot of us really did consider to just give up on the protesting leading up to the days of the G20, but I think it was sheer exhaustion rather than a political point.
3. "What you should have done was conducted a poll with Torontonians on their views of the G20 and use the poll to shame the government."
I take it personally as a compliment that the TCMN's high level of organization, posters, and outreach gave you the impression that were a multi-million dollar organization that can afford to conduct polls. But sadly, we were named the TCMN for our mobilizing efforts, not our polling efforts. However, if you feel conducting polls as the most empowering form of protest, please see the first response above. I believe we had some aspiring pollsters among us. And I know that governments always respond well to polls.
4. "What you should have done was invite a police liaison into your group so they would grow to trust you and go after the real criminals."
Well, actually, we had two police liaisons in our group, funny enough. But they were informants. So I guess part of your suggestion happened, although without our invitation (if only informants had the same conditions as vampires and could only attend upon invitation!). But, we actually did ask the police over and over again to arrest the real criminals (ahem, those so-called leaders of the G20). Then we demanded they arrest themselves when they were illegally searching people and firing into peaceful crowds. Turns out they don't take our suggestions either!
5. "Police will not hurt one segment of the population -- children! You should have marched to the fence with children leading. I'm sure if the police saw a group of children leading the march, they would have parted like the Red Sea."
I believe there was a fellow with a magical flute attempting to do this. But he wanted to take the children past the fence and into Lake Ontario. This did not meet our statement of respect and solidarity and the action did not happen. That being said, I like that there are people out there who are into using children as human shields! See how creative we can be with diversity of tactics!
Runner up suggestion:
6. "You guys should have really tried to get famous Hollywood actors actively supporting your group. That way the police would have had more hesitation to attack you knowing that someone famous was supporting you."
Actually, I used to write to Johnny Depp all the time when I was 12. I revived my fan letters to request his endorsement, but sadly he did not respond (he wears a Che Guevara necklace all the time! He must be on side!).
Again, all suggestions are greatly appreciated. I hope that while you write up a list of everything the Toronto Community Mobilization Network could have done differently, you'll take a moment to donate to our Legal Defense Fund at g20.torontomobilize.org and at least help with suggestions of how to get the charges dropped. If you have a personal contact with Johnny Depp, please message me personally.
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