Friday, July 02, 2010

Hold your own hearings!

Notwithstanding that 35.000 people have now joined the Facebook group Canadians Demanding a Public Inquiry into Toronto G20, the recent Angus Reid poll now being trumpeted by the press would indicate that a government inquiry just ain't gonna happen:
When asked about the reaction of the police in Toronto to the demonstrations, two-thirds of Canadians (66%) and three-in-four Torontonians (73%) believe it was justified.
So there we are -- everything was the protesters' own fault!
Or, at least, that's what the Harper Conservatives and the McGinty Liberals would dearly like everyone to conclude.
Nobody died. Nobody's grandmother was tased. No cabinet minister's daughter was pepper-sprayed or arrested. Clouds of tear gas did not sicken thousands. There are no visuals of people being knocked off their feet by water hoses.
Instead, the visuals were of burning police cars and broken windows -- not exactly images which will enrage the general public about what police did, as opposed to what protesters did. And even though there is still a trickle of news stories about how confusing everything was, there are no editorials demanding explanations of how a billion dollars was spent, and why Toronto police chief Bill Blair has repeatedly lied about summit events.
So regardless of Elizabeth May and the Canada Day protests, the likelihood at this time that the Harper Conservatives or the McGinty Liberals would ever order a public inquiry into police actions during the G20 protests is zero.
If the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Amnesty International and Greenpeace and labour unions and student groups want to have an inquiry into police actions during the G20 protests, they are going to have to do it themselves.
Its been done before. It needs to be done again.
There are already some G20 stories written down already, if reporters happened to hear them, and there are already lots and lots of videos and photos already posted all over the place -- one of the most noticeable things about the crowd shots during the whole G20 weekend was how many people were photographing everything they were seeing.
Even without subpoena powers and a government budget, a narrative can be written about what went wrong during these protests -- hearings can be held, stories assembled, videos and photos pulled together, a timeline constructed,and the locations and participants documented. This will prove that police disappeared on Saturday when the cars were being burned and windows broken, only to re-appear later to pursue and arrest ordinary protesters and passers-by.
And may even help us figure out, why?
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the CCLA has already issued a preliminary report of their observations during the summit
. . . after 5PM on Saturday, the constitutional protection against arbitrary detention and unreasonable searches had effectively been suspended across downtown Toronto.

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