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)