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The other side of the G20 protest

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Photo: John MacLennan

I felt like it was important for me to write about my experience at the G20 in Toronto on June 26 and 27th as there was misinformation being broadcasted by many media sources. We heard that the Black Bloc terrorized the downtown Toronto core, smashing windows, but how about the barbaric actions of the police officers banging on their shields as they marched to block free-speech zones, where as many as 10,000 plus people were protesting in peace. They abused their authority and power to force many off the streets and those left behind had the unfortunate experience of a boot to the face or a baton to the head. They continued these actions by storming into people's homes, accusing them of being anarchists.

At no point did any of the news footage show the various rallies organized for the different causes affecting our world from health and education, women's rights and the environment. At no point did they show footage of the drumming taking place with people dancing in joy of solidarity and unity. And at no point did the media show the 10,000 people walking peacefully down the street, chanting to the leaders of the world to listen to their concerns.

As I participated in the rally to protest for the causes I believed in I saw the brutality of these police officers using intimidation tactics and unreasonably excessive force. My rights under the Canadian Charter of Human Rights were not respected and in fact violated. Slowly we lost our civil rights, including the freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and the overall freedom to participate. By Sunday afternoon, they were using anything they could to single us out as anarchists. Whether it was your black clothes, possession of a bandana, or by the way you looked.

On Sunday June 27, we were detained for two hours at the Queen and Noble Street intersection. We were not told why we were being detained, taunted by various police officers, labeled as anarchists and accused of being affiliated with Black Bloc. We were surrounded by a row of police officers using their bikes as barricades, followed by a bus filled with militant officers. Finally after waiting for an hour and a half, a police officer kindly disclosed why we were being detained.

Apparently they were looking for specific individuals whose sole purpose was to cause problems. Knowing we have a right to silence, individuals weren't sure if silence would result in being sent to the detention centre. We complied with the orders and answered all questions, which were done in a fast paced fashion, with no time to think of a response. They had contact cards and wrote down everyone's information -- luckily in my situation being employed in the Federal Government was the only reason why my information wasn't recorded. The officer then in an abrupt fashion, told us to "get out of here" and we walked off, thankfully with no physical harm but enough emotional exhaustion at this treatment. If you take anything from this story, it is that you should not believe everything that is written in media and listen to the true encounters of individuals who experienced the issue at hand. We are supposed to be in a democratic country and it is frightening at how quickly events can turn.

Photo by John MacLennan.

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