Tuesday, June 29, 2010

One, Two, Buckle G-Hundred and 20 Shoes


Celsius is a newfangled kind of degree. Canadians like to use it to measure heat. You might hear one say: “It’s gonna be a hot one today – 29 degrees!” Don’t worry. Most Canadians are actually very intelligent – not crazy. 29 degrees Celsius converts to 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot, indeed.
Warning: arguments over Fahrenheit/Celsius may lead to mile/kilometer, feet/meter hostility.


Sometimes Ei and I forget we live abroad. Not this week. This hit me after I called a friend from home. The summit on every Torontonian's mind this weekend almost didn’t even come up.
“Oh yeah, the G20. How was that?”

Hm. I know I already posted about the G20, but a lot has happened in the last few days. And no, Americans, this post isn’t a jab at you. Media coverage has been as unpredictable as the personal opinions I’ve encountered. Outside my (somewhat alternative) Canadian circles, I’ve seen a range of reactions to the weekend – from apathetic, to enraged, to disheartened, to oblivious.

More than 900 protesters were arrested over the course of Toronto’s G20 summit. Violence, emotion, tear gas, and vandalism changed the city atmosphere. Saturday, Ei and I kept safe on the west side of Bloor. Meanwhile, the entire city core shut down. When we walked east – just a few blocks towards downtown – we could smell smoke.

News aired the blow by blow of events – "FIRE!" "DANGER!" "VIOLENCE!" "ACTION!" It seemed evident what was happening (broken windows, police cars on fire, bomb threats), but we wanted to know why. In the aftermath, personal stories have started filling the gaps. Accounts of first-hand witnesses paint a more complex picture: protesters of all kinds (organized marchers, peaceful clowns, singing choruses), police outnumbering civilians (tear gas, rubber bullets, a horse-trampled-bystander), and over-packed, under-equipped holding cells for the detained.

Out of anger, a public inquiry into Toronto’s G20 is now under way. Police are suspected of instigating protesters, accused of trying to justify their $1 billion budget. As details surface, Canadian newspap
ers are telling more and more. However, the time for worldwide first-impressions has passed. U.S. news mostly glossed over the events - highlighting violent protests and arrests. American commentary is largely angry at “reckless” protesters. But they've only seen one viewpoint. Sure, officers were there to do their jobs, but civilians had a right to be there, too. They were vocalizing their beliefs. What about the peaceful citizens who were arrested, tear gassed, and trampled in the mix?

Misinformation is dangerous. Impassioned
issues deserve to be seen clearly. Whose faces were behind the Black block bandannas and what was their message? Where is the coverage of Tibetan marchers, trying to fight for freedom? Why were hundreds of people arrested, and why weren’t their stories told? When protesters are labeled reckless – when police are called violent – snap judgments are perpetuated. The G20 exists to instigate change. So do protesters. Well, change starts with communication. In a continent that promotes free media and speech, every voice has the right to be heard.

(Hey, Ei - Hello! I'm just talkin' to ya! Bla bla blaa...)

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog, Chelasea. Speaking of repressed voices: Here's an editorial about a violent crack down on a group of Chniese trying to save their women, their language and their city: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/04/AR2010070403850.html?hpid=opinionsbox1