rabble turns 10! Our story: Frontline coverage of the G20 protests

| November 2, 2011
Police charged G20 protesters after the latter sang 'Oh Canada'

On April 18, 2011, rabble celebrated its 10th anniversary. Highlighting 10 important moments of rabble's history over the course of our 10th year, current and former people involved with rabble have been asked to share their personal highlights from their time with rabble. This monthly rabble history series elaborates on some of the most common highlights submitted.

We also know that many of you have your own ideas of what the highlights of rabble's 10 years have been, and we want to know what you think. If you have thoughts on how you'd like to see us grow, please share as well in the comments section below.

The G20 protests in Toronto last summer turned into a Canadian nightmare. Over 10,000 protesters gathered on June 26 in what would become the largest mass arrests in Canadian history and the Toronto Police Department's first use of tear gas. Arrestees faced human rights violations as they were detained in a temporary holding facility and over a year later, justice is still far from reach. rabble followed the protests -- not only blogging from the streets, but capturing and sharing images, podcasting, and live-tweeting the events as they unfolded. rabble continues to cover the aftermath.

This reporting has been extensive, as rabble's publisher Kim Elliott recalls. "A team of rabble contributors and staff worked around the clock during the G20 to share the stories from the streets as well as the conference rooms: edited feature pieces, blogs, podcasts, video, babble threads, as well a Flickr stream and a Twitter stream made for coverage not seen anywhere else."

rabble's news editor, Cathryn Atkinson, tried to co-ordinate over 20 writers, bloggers and photographers, both inside the summit itself and on the streets of Toronto. Having covered rallies and riots in Britain, where she worked as a journalist, she could see the situation was getting worse from her office in B.C.

"rabble operates as a virtual office so I was thousands of kilometres away. From the beginning to the end I watched the situation deteriorate online, and having been in similar situations I could easily imagine what was going to happen, though I was surprised and appalled by how badly the police behaved," she said.

"Because of that my first concern was for the safety of the reporters we'd sent out and for the stories that came in. It was a flood of information the entire weekend, and we tried to coordinate it and assess what was going on. One of our reporters was taken aside by police but released, and luckily no one was arrested or hurt in the end. It's surprising, given how many others were injured and arrested."

Blogger Krystalline Kraus was there reporting for rabble and her G8/G20 Communiqués are an integral source of information for readers. Former books and blogging intern Jessica Rose points out the significance of her blogging: "Krystalline [kept] us informed at the G20: rabble was lucky enough to have [her] on the frontlines, keeping the country posted on the atrocities happening in Toronto."

Looking at the bigger picture, rabble's multi-faceted G20 coverage filled in many gaps left out from mainstream media coverage. babble moderator Frank Preyde elaborates on the impact of rabble's reporting of the protests and their aftermath. "The work rabble did in the G20 summit, and is still doing, I think is outstanding, and again contrasts to the shallow approach of the mainstream media."

Preyde elaborates that "rabble staffers were out there on the frontline, in the cold and rain for hours on end fuelled with coffee interviewing detainees as they were released, and getting first hand credible reports that were being missed by the mainstream media." This illustrates rabble's on-the-ground approach to reporting.

Extensively covering such a momentous turning point in Canadian history was a priority for rabble, and as former rabble editor Derrick O'Keefe points out, the G20, as well as the Olympics "provided a space for all tendencies on the Canadian left to debate these significant events."

Noreen Mae Ritsema is a former rabble intern and writer of the rabble history series.

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