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Toronto Protest Squashed by the Police

by OLIVER MOORE Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2001 at 2:31 PM

Not having many sources of news about this attempt by protestors to prevent business as usual in Toronto we could choose to read this inadequate and seriously biased treatment from the Globe and Mail.

Protest in Toronto fizzles after violent clash

By OLIVER MOORE

Globe and Mail Update

Police briefly cleared Bay Street in

downtown Toronto on Tuesday

morning following a burst of violence at a protest march

spearheaded by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).

A witness at First Canadian Place said a demonstrator was clubbed

down by riot police following an attempt to attack them with a

protest sign. Police Constable Debbie Abbott at Metro Toronto

Police Service headquarters said that she had heard a report of a

protester being "seriously injured," but that she could not specify the

extent of the injuries. She added that an ambulance was on the way

to the scene.

Unable to put a definite figure on the number of arrested, Constable

Abbott said that at least 12 have been picked up. She added that 52

Division was unable to process any more detainees and that

prisoners were being shunted to 51 and 14 Divisions.

Police reportedly seized parts for Molotov cocktails, pieces of wood

spiked with metal wing nuts and a large bag of gas masks.

There has been "quite a number of arrests," OCAP spokesman John

Clarke told globeandmail.com. "Our legal team doesn't have

[specific] numbers because they seem to be holding people in limbo

before processing them."

Mr. Clarke, who was not at the scene because of bail conditions

that restrict his ability to protest, said that many of the arrests

sounded "preventative," rather than reactive.

A mass of demonstrators marched south on Bay Street and turned

west on King. A smaller group then turned back and headed north

on Bay. Reports indicate the march was generally peaceful before

the clash broke out and police cleared the street. Witnesses said

there had already been sporadic violence, including a youth

attempting to batter newspaper boxes.

Many protesters, who turned out despite periods of heavy rain,

chanted: "This is what democracy looks like."

The demonstrators were diverted to Front Street, and some massed

briefly in front of the Royal York Hotel. A crowd of several

hundred cheered as one man climbed the awning over the hotel's

main entrance and spray-painted "Stop murder" on a U.S. flag

before setting it ablaze.

There were also reports of slow-moving vehicles interfering with

traffic on the arterial Don Valley Parkway. Mr. Clarke could not

confirm that those people were officially part of the protest, but said

he personally had no doubt.

The demonstration was "enormously successful," Mr. Clarke said,

adding that the protesters wanted to show that "it couldn't be

business as usual."

OCAP was also involved in a violent protest last year at Queen's

Park, seat of the Ontario provincial legislature. With concerns

accentuated by last month's terrorist attacks on New York and

Washington, law-enforcement authorities have decided to take no

chances.

Police refuse to give specific numbers of officers in the downtown

core "for security reasons," but witnesses at the scene describe a

massive law-enforcement presence.

Questioned by reporters about the security presence, Toronto Police

Chief Julian Fantino said that he would not stand by and watch

Toronto reel under the sort of violence seen in Seattle, Prague,

Quebec City and Genoa.

"They shouldn't have big rocks and sticks, tear gas and masks,"

Chief Fantino said. They "obviously intended to do other then stage

a peaceful demonstration."

Chief Fantino apparently asked OCAP that the protest be postponed

"in the interest of public safety." In a letter published on their Web

site, OCAP responded that while demonstrations inevitably cause

some disruption, they have never "stated publicly or through

advertisement that they condone or encourage any threat to any

individual or person who may find them self within the

demonstration area."

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