Comparisons between the G20 and Occupy Toronto protests are coming a touch too early
This weekend, Toronto demonstrators will launch a protest motivated by the ongoing Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York City. In the lead-up to the event, Justin Beach at change.org published an open letter to Bill Blair and the Toronto Police, requesting that they strive to ensure this weekend’s demonstration doesn’t go all G20.
From that letter:
In June 2010 at the G20 summit, Toronto saw the largest mass arrests in Canadian history. Complaints too numerous to mention were filed against police officers, and many of the investigations and lawsuits that resulted from that weekend will be ongoing for years to come. On October 15, another mass demonstration is coming to Toronto as part of the Occupy Everywhere movement. Neither the people of Toronto, nor I’m sure, its police force want to see a repeat of the G20 weekend.
We, the undersigned, expect that officers will be professional, will attempt to communicate with demonstrators at all times, will make any requests or demands clear and will give citizens, including demonstrators, passersby, observers and the media every opportunity to comply with those requests before taking any action.
All officers should have their badges visible at all times [and] be prepared to produce identification and/or provide a business card on request.
Beach goes on to demand that police not instigate violence and that kettling not be used unless necessary, among other requests motivated by the G20 fiasco. Naturally, it’s tempting to draw comparisons between the G20 protests and the upcoming demonstration, but so far there’s little evidence that the two events have much in common in terms of law enforcement. As far as we can tell, there won’t be any foreign dignitaries in town this weekend, and the protest probably won’t require the construction of an enormous fence or the virtual shutdown of Toronto’s downtown core.
Of course, this is no guarantee that the Toronto Police—or protesters—won’t misbehave. After all, New York’s finest haven’t exactly handled the situation on Wall Street particularly well. But then again, nobody will be looking to justify a billion-dollar security apparatus this time around.