G20 protests turn ugly

We are right in the middle of the G20 meeting in Toronto and although the statements and announcements made by the world leaders are interesting and may be important, so far it seems that the protesters have stolen the show and have successfully upstaged the official events and top world leaders. For anyone that is familiar with the city of Toronto, seeing police dressed in riot gear and just the sheer number of police officers that are on the streets is a sight that has never been witnessed in that city.

The protesters number in the tens of thousands and are organized in several separate groups throughout the downtown core which is where the world leaders are meeting. Some protesters are using a violent tactic called Black Bloc in which they dress in black and wear bandanas or other face covering items and tend to be more violent and often vandalize stores and other property. This time around, they broke doors and windows of several stores and banks and even broke in and entered a Starbucks coffee shop and stole drinks. They also destroyed at least three police cruisers, setting them ablaze. All this and that was only on the first day.

Using violence during a protest from the protesters side does not generally make for a good message, especially when done in a safe and free society like North America. Protesting is a right of every free citizen and should be allowed to take place, as long as, it is done in a peaceful way. Protesting is actually an important part of free societies, even though it appears to some people as an idiotic thing to do. This is only because we, in North America are used to having our rights in tact and don’t see a need to protest anything for the most part. However, this is not the case in every country in the world.

Destroying police cars makes even less sense because that is actually city property and that means that the taxpayers will have to pay for the damages. It essentially is like shooting themselves in the foot. Some of the protesters were asked why they became violent towards the police and they said they simply did not like them. They do have some reasons to dislike the police in North America but, being violent is the opposite of how they should show their frustrations. The police in North America are known to go on power trips and purposely set up speed traps at night, in places where no threat exists of causing an accident with pedestrians on roads that are wide and easy to see. They often forget they actually work for the people and not the other way around. Still, protesters should protest peacefully if they wish and refrain from violence.

When protesters use violence and vandalism, then it takes away from their core message and sheds a very negative light on protesting in general. To add insult to injury, two Canadian soldiers fighting in Afghanistan (trying to give people of that country the same rights we have here in North America) died in battle. Instead of giving them the attention they deserve and taking a moment to reflect on what they gave their lives for, people here were abusing those very rights and taking all the attention away from those soldiers. Something is very wrong with that picture and perhaps the media should make this correlation and give the appropriate attention to all the places it needs to be.