Tuesday, October 19, 2010

your g20 stories

Your G20 Stories (1)

Not long after the G20 summit, a wall was set aside in Kensington Market for anyone to relate their thoughts and memories about the events of the last weekend in June. Whether you were in or near the chaos downtown or at home glued to a blackberry or radio, it would be hard not to have a story related to the craziness that ensued.

Here's ours.

Your G20 Stories (3)

Scene: Roncesvalles Village. I was working frantically in Sarah's kitchen on that weekend's installment of Historicist, fretting that I needed to write a perfect piece on the War Measures Act in light of the high-traffic that Torontoist expected to receive from readers updating themselves on summit-related events. My frantic mood wasn't helped by a week where fatigue and other factors had hit me hard. Auntie Gladys's radio was tuned to CBC so that we could hear if anything was going down to the east of us. The plan was to finish the article, rest a bit, then drive over to a friend's barbecue party north of St. Clair. My biggest worry wasn't being caught in any G20-related chaos, but determining where between Roncesvalles and our destination soccer-loving drivers would screw up traffic to express their national pride to all.

Your G20 Stories (6)

As the chaos downtown unfolded, we were glued to the radio and each of our computers. Updates were relayed between the kitchen and the living room. Work on the article continued sporiadically as each new tidbit floated across the airwaves or Twitter.

Windows were smashed along Yonge Street and Queen West. Police cars burned. Public transit screeching to a halt.

We were so caught up in the drama that we delayed our departure to the evening's soiree.

Your G20 Stories (4)

The highlight of the drive to the barbecue had nothing to do with the G20. While waiting for a left turn light at St. Clair and Dufferin, a lone man in colorful garb stood at the southwest corner...no, make that "slowly flailed at the southwest corner." He waved his arms in the air with motions that were feeble enough to suggest that he really wanted to show the world his joy and enthusiasm, but the body wasn't quite willing to. We figured this was his way of celebrating Ghana's victory.

At the party, the day's events weren't far from most people's minds. Updates were tracked on mobile devices.

The Historicist column was finished by Sunday morning. As we continued to keep tabs via radio, web, passenger pigeon, etcetera, I joked about heading downtown that afternoon to see what was happening. Sarah sternly advised me not to let my curiousity (and semi-conscious desire to be in the middle of the action) overwhelm me...which proved a smart decision for my personal well-being in light of what went down on Queen Street.

Your G20 Stories (5)

Still, I couldn't resist driving by affected areas on my way home. The only incident I witnessed was the raid on a student residence just off of Spadina Crescent—I knew something was up when I saw a long line of news vans parked along the east side of Spadina as I headed south from Bloor Street. Heading west along College, I noticed one guy kneeling on the ground while talking to police, though I passed by too quickly to determine if handcuffs were involved. While waiting at stop lights along Yonge Street, I watched pedestrians stare at the smashed and/or boarded up windows.

Our sympathies varied during the weekend. During Saturday's smash-a-thon, we admired how restrained law enforcement was while the anarchist fringe had a smashing good time on the town (I wondered how many of those involved had ties to Guelph). This ebbed as the first reports of conditions in the detention facilities came in, and evaporated when the forces dropped their reserve on Sunday and went after anyone in the way. The fiasco many had predicted had come to pass and we weren't feeling good about it.

Several months on, the fallout from that weekend occasionally bubbles up in the headlines. Outstanding charges, though dwindling, remain. Lawsuits have been filed. Lingering jokes about the cost to recreate the comforts of Muskoka for dignitaries. Egg that hasn't slid off the faces of the mayor and police chief.

Thanks federal government. Thank you. - JB

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