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About the Author

Johan Knols
Blogger, safari specialist, professional wildlife guide (Woerden, Netherlands)

Johan Knols is the owner of the planyoursafari blog. He studied tourism in the Netherlands and has been working in the African tourism industry for nearly 15 years. Starting as lodge manager in the Serengeti in Tanzania, he eventually owned his own mobile safari company in Botswana. Johan received his professional wildlife- guides licence in 1998 and was awarded the title of Honorary Wildlife Officer with the Botswana Wildlife and National Parks authority in 2005. During his time in Africa he has managed upmarket safari lodges and has done overland trips in the luxury and semi-luxury sector. At the moment he is a full-time blogger giving tips and advices on everything related to African safaris.

Post

Shattered Dreams Lead To Shattered Glass

Published 30th June 2010 - 19 comments - 3727 views -

Last weekend it was a hot weekend in the normally cold city of Toronto. The normally clear skyline of Canada’s multi lingual metropolis got obscured by black billowing smoke from burning police cars.

Hardcore protesters, by some called anarchists, smashed windows of giants like McDonalds and Starbucks. And if that wasn’t challenging enough, enforced glass panes of banks were the next victims of the anger and rage of the anti-globalization diehards. The reason for all this commotion? A meeting of the G8 and G20. The meeting’s price tag? One billion Canadian Dollars.

The majority of people watching this behavior will shake their heads and be happy that the G20 summit is over. Most protesters, apart from those in police cells, will by now have left the city and the Torontonians will be happy to enjoy the returned peace. Once again is the sky over Toronto is fresh and clear.

Protest is something complicated and it comes in many different forms. Whether it is writing a critical (blog) article or the throwing of a Molotov-cocktail, the creation of a petition or chaining yourself to a ship, there is enough choice for everyone.

I was raised in a way that someone else’s property is not mine and that you keep your hands off it, the biggest ‘criminal’ act behind my name was stealing an apple in a supermarket. Not surprising that you will not see me with a black hood throwing molotovs.

Nevertheless the above video made me think.

Is there a message in the destruction and carnage? Are the black hoods people that would rob a granny of her handbag and will they destroy every police car they see? Or are they individuals that are more brave than others and willing to go the extra mile to show their disgust with what is happening in the larger world?

This time the anger was mainly centered on the bankers that caused the financial crisis and in the process will have catapulted 53 million people extra into poverty by 2015 (see Foreword) , the same bankers that play an important role in the G20, bankers and leaders that are powerful, something the protesters (peaceful or not) are not.

And when you are powerful it is easy. You block of areas, implement emergency laws and basically ask everybody to identify him/herself. You got an army of police officers and private security firms at your disposal. Normal rights of civilians are set aside and those who don’t want to listen are forcefully removed from public places. Is it strange that the crowds feel helpless? Is it strange they react that strong? After all they feel their dreams of a more transparent and honest world are not being heard by their leaders. Leaders they often voted for.

And those emergency laws are sticking up their ugly heads everywhere. FIFA banned the Dutch girls wearing orange dresses and they were interrogated by FIFA people. Sorry, but who is FIFA? Did we vote for Sepp Blatter?

A similar story is unfolding in Rotterdam, where this weekend the Tour de France will draw millions of TV viewers to their flatscreens. Under pressure from the organization of the Tour, the city-council made it illegal to hand out flyers ten days before the start of this mega event.

A pitty, as I just wanted to start flyering about the millennium development goals and ask the public about their opinion on Molotov throwers.

Now I feel a bit useless in just punching in some keys on my laptop in the hope of achieving a better world. After all, why would people read my stories?

Maybe Molotov experts are not that stupid.

(Images CTV News Canada)


Category: Crisis | Tags: g20, violence, protest, emergency laws,


Comments

  • Benno Hansen on 30th June 2010:

    “illegal to hand out flyers ten days before”

    Excuse me, what did you write?


  • Hussam Hussein on 30th June 2010:

    Johan, thanks for yoru post… very well written and well spelled raspberry


  • Giedre Steikunaite on 30th June 2010:

    Last year there were similar violence at the G20 summit in London. One innocent man died, as they ruled now, because of police negligence.

    I hope the hoodies wouldn’t attack a granny on her way to buy some bread. If they did, they would be criminals. But then again, is smashing windows of private businesses and damaging police cars we all paid for a crime? From purely a legal point of view, it is. Enters the context…

    It’s an interesting question you raise in this post, Johan. When all else fails, is it only violence left to those of us who are not happy with the way things are done (or not done)? Is it justifiable? Are they brave, or are they stupid?

    I had similar thoughts when writing my post “What would you bid?”. How far would I go? What would I do? What wouldn’t I do?

    Tough, tough.


  • Christophe on 30th June 2010:

    Hi Johan,

    Just to comment your post… I think that there is much more violence in the daily actions of bankers than in the action of black bloc…obviously one is much more direct and easy to be shown on TV…the other requires economic explanations…

    and just a remark, there is this empty police car in the middle of the demonstration on the video… sure it is going to be a target for people demonstrating and a spot for media attention…


  • Johan Knols on 30th June 2010:

    @Benno,
    A flyer is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flyer_(pamphlet)

    @Giedre,
    It is very touch. But when nothing changes, what alternatives are there?

    @Christophe
    I fully agree with your first remark about bankers being more criminal than others. The have been selling unrealistic loans under false pretenses. That goes unpunished. Yet, the public damage is, as you say, easy to curb and the little guys are victim.

    The media is focusing too much on those events that only show the bad side of the story: black bloc. That is the downside about the anti-globalization movement. But an empty police car should not automatically be a target in my view.


  • Christophe on 30th June 2010:

    Thanks Johan,


    Thanks for your reply but I guess that someone taking part in black-bloc action probably thinks that a police car is an instrument that protects capitalists and politicians which then lead to seeing police car as target…

    About mentioning black bloc as downside of anti-globalization movement, I do not fully agree the first time such a movement emerges was in Germany in the 80s as just a bunch of autonomous people to defend several squats and the media continue to use the term for a structure that does not really exist… The phenomenon probably continues because many people do not recognize their ideas and opinions in traditional groups and their forms of protestation…
    Finally I do not think that black bloc have ever been violent against people as the police has been in the last big demonstrations (Christiana in Copenhagen, Göteborg, Genoa,...)


  • Johan Knols on 30th June 2010:

    Hello Christophe,

    I follow your comment about the police car being a symbol and therefore prone to damage. But it doesn’t make sense and it only creates antipathy with the public sitting on their couches at home.

    I also doubt if the black bloc has ever been violent against people. But is the behavior of this ‘not really existing structure’ not a substitute for their inability to express themselves in a more appropriate way, or do they believe it is the only way?
    (Somehow I get a feeling you might know someone of the black block. If you do, please send me an email on .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)).


  • Benno Hansen on 30th June 2010:

    @ Johan ‘flyer’ is even in the online Danish dictionary - perhaps I was looking for something more wink

    btw this 2007 of mine is related and probably of your interest: RIOT - Just do it. It’s me sharing “some thoughts on riots in general”. Letting others do some of the talking. “Because now that I think about it, I have met and talked with rioters throughout my time of hanging out in weird places.”


  • Radka Lankašová on 01st July 2010:

    Johan,

    interesting questions:
    How far can an individual go to express disagreement with establishment?
    How far can a state go to protect citizens´s lives and property (public and private? What is protection and what is brutality?
    Who rules the world - people or fear?
    Do these summits pay back? One billion Canadian dollars is a lot of money. Was the summit outcome worth it? Did world leaders produce something of the worth that would be good for world citizens?
    One billion - was it just direct costs or also indirect included - carbon footprint for example. Imagine how many summiters flew in. And bodyguards. And assistants. And media. And…


  • Johan Knols on 01st July 2010:

    @Radka,

    Thanks for your comment.
    Let me try to answer some of your questions. The state has the duty to protect its citizens lives and property, always. But the state does not have the right to pretend it is saving lives and property while in reality it is silencing protest(er)s.
    Your question about who rules the world I would like to put differently:
    ‘who rules the world - politicians and bankers or those that voted for these people?’
    Then you ask if these kind of summits pay back. Well, I am sure to some it does. But it is not a matter of seeing the outcome of these summits and compare them to the costs. We should be having summits because the debate should continue and without summits it will be difficult. Unfortunately this means that many people from around the world have to take a plane to get there.
    But what angers me if I see a reports in the press about the failure to come to an agreement between East- and Southern African states and the European Union and (like in this case it is about ‘partnership’) there does not seem a willingness to get results. We in the west (north) seem to have our mouths full of ‘development’ but we are not being seen to walk our talk. http://allafrica.com/stories/201006300067.html


  • Giedre Steikunaite on 01st July 2010:

    What alternatives are there, if nothing changes?

    We seem to be stuck in this mess somehow. G8, G20 meet up again and again, spend loads of money, protesters get some media attention, and we move on until the next meeting, the next war, the next idiocy. You are right in saying there are ways for everyone to do their bit, either by blogging, campaigning, self-greening, or protesting. I don’t think we’re gonna have a total revolution here. But we have to fight on different fronts, to reach different objectives with one aim in mind, simply a better world. Or, as I like to say now, a possible future.


  • Johan Knols on 01st July 2010:

    @Giedre,

    I am not sure if a revolution would be the ideal thing to create. Trying to convince the masses about the G8,G20 and Millennium Development Goals is unfortunately a slow process. But the speed could increase…..if only the will would be there and the self-interest a lot less.


  • Giedre Steikunaite on 01st July 2010:

    Johan, I’m not agitating for a revolution, I used the word in a sense of something united, a common activity for a greater good with everyone involved. The speed could obviously increase, to parallel the speed of destruction. I agree with you on the need of less self-interest, but knowing homo nonsapiens I’m not too hopeful on that one.


  • Johan Knols on 01st July 2010:

    @all,

    It would be really interesting to know which (if any at all) influencers or politicians have been on the Th!nk blog. I guess none.
    Are we wasting our time?


  • Giedre Steikunaite on 01st July 2010:

    Johan, you seem to be quite pessimistic recently, am I right?

    I don’t think we’re wasting our time, although it’s only natural to have occasional doubts. You think women at the beginning of last century didn’t think they were wasting their time marching the streets and standing up to a male dominated society? Or how about African Americans, who got the right to vote in late 19th century but had to wait another 90 years to actually exercise it? Or how about my own country, after 50 years of occupation by the USSR, managed to get its freedom? Nobody said it was easy. Please don’t lose your determination Johan.


  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 01st July 2010:

    Johan!

    Relax. Keep on writing. I believe in the power of words. I’ve always believed. Protesters believe, too in what they do. Let’s keep doing what we believe in.

    (Great post!)


  • Johan Knols on 02nd July 2010:

    @Giedre,

    Well, I can’t exactly say that the topics on Th!nk3 are making me a happy chappy. Not that I have sleepless nights, but the cheer intertwined amount of problems in combination with what is happening ‘out there’, doesn’t make me very positive.
    I guess the protesters in Toronto have a similar kind of feeling. Although, as stated, I would never damage in order to get attention.


  • Giedre Steikunaite on 02nd July 2010:

    Johan, I ain’t dancing joyful salsa while reading posts on TH!NK3, either. Actually, I’m getting more and more convinced that we are in such a huge mess that we might as well be doomed. But hey, it’s ignorance that is easy, not protest, resistance or campaigning.


  • Johan Knols on 13th July 2010:

    Hello Giedre,

    I totally agree with your last remark. However, the task at hand is just so enormous.


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