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G20 protest turns violent (someone always has to start something)

Posted by on Jun. 26, 2010 at 4:05 PM
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G20 Protest Turn Violent in Toronto

Updated: one minute ago
CBC News
What started as a peaceful protest has turned violent in downtown Toronto.

Thousands of anti-G20 protesters are being met by a massive police presence while marching through the heart of downtown Toronto on Saturday, with splinter groups breaking off and trying to head towards the main summit site.

The size of the crowd has been estimated to be as high as 10,000.

Toronto EMS has confirmed three people with head injuries on Queen St. West. A police cruiser was also reportedly smashed at Queen and Spadina by a breakaway group who used sticks from their protest signs and two police cruisers are on fire at Bay and King.

Numerous stores, including a Starbucks and a Scotiabank have been smashed on Queen W. with looting and further attacks reported downtown.


Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
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Police officers hold back demonstrators protesting the G8/G20 summits June 25, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The protest was one of several planned in the city to coincide with the gathering of world leaders for the G20 and G8 summits being held in Toronto and nearby Muskoka June 25-27.
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Inside the Security Zone
Police officers hold back demonstrators protesting the G8/G20 summits June 25, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The protest was one of several planned in the city to coincide with the gathering of world leaders for the G20 and G8 summits being held in Toronto and nearby Muskoka June 25-27.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
AP

Inside the Security Zone

Police officers hold back demonstrators protesting the G8/G20 summits June 25, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The protest was one of several planned in the city to coincide with the gathering of world leaders for the G20 and G8 summits being held in Toronto and nearby Muskoka June 25-27.

Inside the Security Zone

Manuel Aragon protests the G8/G20 summits June 25, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The G20 and G8 summits are being held in Toronto and nearby Muskoka June 25-27.

Inside the Security Zone

A demonstrator protesting the G8/G20 holds a sign in the face of police officers following a march though downtown June 25, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The march was one of several planned in the city to coincide with the gathering of world leaders for the G20 and G8 summits being held in Toronto and nearby Muskoka June 25-27.

Inside the Security Zone

The Feminist March files down College St. on June 25, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The march was one of several planned in the city to coincide with the gathering of world leaders for the G20 and G8 summits being held in Toronto and nearby Muskoka June 25-27.

Inside the Security Zone

Demonstrators protesting the G8/G20 summits march though downtown June 25, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The protest was one of several planned in the city to coincide with the gathering of world leaders for the G20 and G8 summits being held in Toronto and nearby Muskoka June 25-27.

Inside the Security Zone

A demonstrator protesting the G8/G20 summits stands in front of a wall of Toronto Police Officers as the Feminist March makes its way through downtown June 25, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The protest was one of several planned in the city to coincide with the gathering of world leaders for the G20 and G8 summits being held in Toronto and nearby Muskoka June 25-27.

Inside the Security Zone

Toronto Police Officers wear riot helmets as the Feminist March makes its way through downtown June 25, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The protest was one of several planned in the city to coincide with the gathering of world leaders for the G20 and G8 summits being held in Toronto and nearby Muskoka June 25-27.

Inside the Security Zone

A group of protesters wearing all black and face masks broke away from the crowd to double back and head towards Toronto's City Hall. Police are advising peaceful protesters to breakaway from those who are violent to protect themselves. Police told CP 24 they would use the sound cannon if necessary.

CP 24 is also reporting 2 additional police cruisers have been attacked at Bay and Queen, in Toronto's downtown, with a small group of police attempting to prevent the group from moving further east.

Earlier in the march the protesters danced, clapped and chanted while carrying signs, flags and umbrellas as the march began at the provincial legislature. They moved from Queen's Park down one of the city's main thoroughfares, University Avenue, with little incident, although at least one man was detained after jumping over a barrier.

"A couple of arrests" were made early in the protest march. They involved people with incendiary devices that might have been used as weapons, Wendy Drummond of the Integrated Security Force told CBC News.

The protest was blocked by police from heading any farther south than Queen Street West - several blocks north of the actual summit site. The march was diverted westwards along Queen and then north on Spadina Avenue where, for the most part, there were no reports of any clashes with police.

However, one local report says three people were injured with cuts to the head. The injuries were reported in the area around Queen and John streets.

As well, anarchists in a splinter group were spotted breaking away from the main group of marchers in a few locations, including Queen and John streets, where they attempted to move toward the summit site. They call themselves the Black Block or the Black Block Tactic, a group that has used violence such as widespread vandalism in past G20 protests.
Group members are known for wearing black hoodies, masks, balaclavas and skateboard helmets.

"If they see anyone taking pictures, they put their hands up to cover the shot," CBC's Bill Gillespie reported from the scene.

At certain points of the protest, the mood was said to be very tense, as some marchers donned kerchiefs and even gas masks. As well, flares were seen being fired in the air.

"We are here to make sure our voices are heard, and to tell the leaders that they can't ignore the voices of those they were elected to represent," Peter Kennedy of the Canadian Auto Workers union told CBC News before the march began.

"We are here to send that message loud and clear," he said.

Core subway service in downtown Toronto has been suspended by the Toronto Transit Commission, with no service for the time being in the loop between Bloor and St. George stations. As well, there are no streetcars running in the downtown core.

As protesters approached the summit site, officials also decided to suspend commuter GO train service in and out of Union Station.

Earlier Friday, police raised concerns that children would be part of the protest, and urged parents to keep them at home.

On its website, the Toronto Community Mobilization Network, which has organized many of the protests, only said the march will begin at Queen's Park, "and then onwards to the fence."

Kennedy said his goal is to have an orderly, peaceful march. "I think that will only help get our message across even better," he said.

The summit itself is set to get underway later Saturday with a working dinner hosted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

On Friday, tensions ran high when at least 3,000 people noisily marched through the downtown, snarling traffic. The march was organized by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and a group that campaigns for the rights of non-status immigrants.

Five people were arrested after some protesters refused to keep moving.

"They were throwing things at officers and carrying some contraband material that presented a pretty significant danger," Chief Bill Blair of the Toronto police told CBC News.

Protesters said they became angry after police arrested a man who was hearing impaired. They said police cuffed the man behind his head and he couldn't communicate with sign language. That's when some protesters surged forward and started shouting, "Let him go."

"I don't have the particulars of the arrest of that particular individual," Blair said. "Of course, the officers would have no way of knowing whether the man suffered a hearing disability. They would only respond to his action."

Blair added, "There's a certain amount of mischief" in the way events are reported, and the facts will come out in the courts.

In all, 32 people were arrested Friday and they face a total of 51 charges, police said. Police have not released details about the charges.

Many of the protesters spent the night sleeping in tents at Allan Gardens at Sherbourne and Gerrard streets. About 50 tents were erected on the property by protesters who have come from across the country.

With files from AOL Canada.
Filed under: Canada
by on Jun. 26, 2010 at 4:05 PM
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