More press than protesters: media waiting for action at G20 demonstration settle for bag inspections instead of tear gas

More press than protesters: media waiting for action at G20 demonstration settle for bag inspections instead of tear gas

Journalists of many stripes swarm around a man asked to reveal the contents of his bag (Image: Karon Liu) 

Friday’s big photo op—er, protest—kicked off in the early afternoon at Allan Gardens, where all the requirements of an anti-capitalist demonstration were met:

• A symbolic, makeshift coffin
• A guy wearing a papier mâché pig’s head
• Marijuana flags
• Signs with wordplay on Stephen Harper’s name
• A guy playing an African drum
• Cops
• Chants that had too many words for people to follow
• Causes that covered everything but the kitchen sink: ending the Israeli apartheid, ending violence against women, ending poverty, socialism, communism, animal activism, the environment, pro-choice, equal rights for disabled people, anti-police, anti-prisons. There were also a few topless women who we think were protesting clothes.

(Image: Jon Sufrin) 

Of course, to make it a truly bona fide G20 protest, the media had to be there. And boy were they. CNN, CTV, Global, and all the newspapers were accounted for, as were over a hundred young bloggers snapping away with cameras that rivaled the professionals’. It honestly appeared that there were more representatives from the press than there were protesters.

The cops, activists and press all seemed ready for the one moment that would tip the demonstration from a weird day in the park (at Allan Gardens, that’s not much of feat) to a battle for freedom under a cloud of tear gas. But that moment never came.

In absence of a real fight, journos went for any type of conflict. As a result, whenever the cops asked a random person to look inside their bags, dozens of reporters and photographers swarmed in from all areas of the park to inevitably watch some guy pull a sandwich out of his knapsack. Expect to see  footage of that on CNN.

(Image: Jon Sufrin) 

As the march began, a wall of bike police kept marchers on the road, while just south, on Gerrard Street scores of mounted police sat at the ready, with a nearly endless motorcade of unmarked vans, busses and Avis moving vans packed with police officers driving past them.

As the marchers worked their way down College Street, police in full riot gear (shields, facemasks, the works) appeared, remaining stoically perplexed when a group of jovial clown protestors pressed up against them chanting “love and respect.” After being barred from the security fence by police, protestors peacefully made their way back to the park where they set up a tent city.