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Well, we were warned. But even with all of the information provided by the news media last week about the threat of impending violence at the hands of G20 protesters, it was still horrifying to witness the unabashed events of this past weekend.
Last week, the Synergy Merchant Services Blog discussed the G20 Summit being held in Toronto, Ontario by touching upon some of the financial implications that it would have on local business. In addition, we discussed the numerous rallies and protests that were in the works. Everything from equal rights to poverty were issues that were being raised by protesters.
But, as was alluded to earlier, the protests were marred by merciless vandalism and destruction by who most people would refer to as “thugs”. Television sets across the nation were emitting live feeds from the streets of Toronto depicting police cruisers being torched and storefronts being vandalized. Known as the “Black Bloc”, this group of people took to the streets with one thing on their minds: destruction.
To be clear, Wikipedia.org describes “black bloc” as a tactic, not an organized group. So the individuals dressed in black garments causing most of the damage this past weekend were not necessarily part of some vigilante organization. Instead, they were viewed as hoodlums who were hurting the overall objective of the peaceful protesters who took to the streets to raise awareness for their causes during the G20 Summit.
As Don Peat of The Toronto Sun reported earlier today, a shocking 900 arrests were made in Toronto over the past weekend. He describes: “Most of those arrests occurred after a peaceful protest turned into a violent rampage through the city by a group of protesters using so-called Black Bloc techniques. Before Saturday’s riot that left four police cruisers burning in the city’s streets, police had only arrested 32 individuals for G20 security-related incidents.”
By today, the various world leaders attending the Summit had already left the city. But left behind was the damage done to numerous shops on Toronto’s major streets. Stores and banks on both Queen Street and Yonge Street were among those that suffered the most significant damage.
The Integrated Security Unit reports that while a number of individuals who were arrested over the weekend will be released, many others will be attending court. As of today, the security perimeters that were set up are now essentially being lifted so that citizens are no longer required to show identification to move through it.
The G20 Summit is over. But the scars left on the City of Toronto have been left behind. News reports have indicated that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has viewed the Summit as a success. However, many business owners and citizens alike in the downtown area likely disagree.