Week 1: The Weekend of the G20 Summit

As you know, last weekend the G20 took place in Toronto. In Downtown Toronto. With the western end of the security fence right next to my hotel. I kid you not.

Street view of the Fence during the week before the summit

As my room faces east, I had a clear, unobstructed view of The Fence down Wellington Street:

And a clear, unobstructed view of all the cops stationed at that part of The Fence:

Thus, through Saturday afternoon and evening (when I had finally managed to get back to the hotel), a mere look out of the window told me when it was time to switch on the TV (note that by then The Fence was closed):

When they started to close off all streets facing north, like this …

… I got a bit (uh-hm) worried and started packing my rucksack, just in case the hotel had to be evacuated. I already saw myself wandering through the streets of Toronto at night, on the run from a mob of rioters. (Hey, I’m an author! And authors tend to have over-active imaginations. Sometimes this can be a bit of a disadvantage …)

For me, what was most surprising about the whole weekend was how little Toronto as a whole was prepared for the violence that erupted. On Saturday one of the protest marches attracted a bunch of people whose sole intention was to wreck havock, and they trashed several shops (most of them on Queen Street) and torched four police cars (despite the presence of 19,000 cops in Downtown Toronto). When this happened the city was a in a state of shock (as well as in a state of complete lockdown; public transport in the downtown core came to a standstill), and from the news coverage you might have thought that the whole of Toronto was going up in flames.
Though numerous, protest marches in Toronto seem to be typically rather peaceful, and everybody expected the same for the G20 protests, which, I guess, was a bit naive. But then I live near a city which has seen its fair number of violent protests and in which water cannons roll down the streets whenever there is to be a protest that might get out of hand.

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