Where to begin…
It started out wet and James and I got underway. Our first stop was tent city in Alan Park to photograph to take down of the tents, then we walked to Queens park. On the walk there we were searched, twice. First by Toronto Police then the OPP. I had nothing on me so we were allowed through, though they seemed uncertain about letting me keep my ventilator… When asked why I had it I calmly explained, “It’s only in case you decide to use gas, so that I can keep working.”
Our initial stop at Queens park was short, and we continued on to the corner of Bloor and Spadina where students were gathering. I met up with a few members of CUSA and followed the students back to Queens Park. Then it began.
I have no estimate for the number of people but everyone was there, from labour to free Tibet, to greenpeace and Canadian communists. We followed them for a while and I saw my first instance of police brutality when a girl was viciously beaten for getting to close to the police line. It was confusing because the police issued no instructions other than “Get back!” Despite the money spent on the sound cannon, apparently for the purpose of communicating with crowds, it was never used.
We continued down to Queen and Spadina where the march split. There was a lengthy confrontation with police. Then they started putting on masks. A tell tale sign they were about to launch tear gas. One girl, who was speaking with a friend of mine from the Globe and mail, put on her mask as well and the police grabbed her, held her down with their shields and removed then mask. Then dragged her back behind the line. While I can’t comment on the majority of the 480 arrests being reported I can say this, she had done nothing wrong. She put on her mask as a safety measure and was arrested.
By the end of the day to protestors had pushed back the police line by about 2 blocks. Then they brought in the RCMP and Montreal Police. The Montreal police have a bad rap with regards to riots.
One thing to be said about yesterday, when you box in mass amounts of humans, deny them their right to be heard and arrest them for being safe, don’t be surprised when they get rowdy. The police (ironically) treated people like pigs.
Also, fuck Black Bloc tactics.