Let’s talk about the G20 protests

I wrote this a long time ago. Still think it’s worth talking about
The heads of the G20 nations are meeting in Toronto right now. For the last two days, there’s been a spectacle of protest and reaction on the streets of Toronto.

Yesterday, as the G8 joined the rest of the G20, the (I think) Canadian Federation of Labor and other respectable civil-society groups staged a large peaceful  march/protest of around 30,000. During the afternoon, about 300 black-clad figures broke out from the group and started smashing storefronts, etc. The march devolved into bands of thousands of protestors/onlookers roaming around Toronto or being surrounded by police, with the Black Block among some groups, merrily going about their property destruction and then changing clothes and melting into the crowd.

Different narratives/storylines I’m hearing about the whole thing:

  • “This peaceful protest was hijacked by a reckless few. Now the peaceful many can’t get their message out”
  • “Way to create a backlash against the left and against the change you seek, morons.”
  • “Many of the black block were probably police provacatours. Police forces around the world have admitted that they do this at g20-like protests”
  • “The police are pushing the story about a few vandals to cover for their illegal and brutal arrests and beatings of the peaceful majority”

I just don’t understand. The vandals/black block or whatever. What are the series of plausible steps they believe can result from their actions? What is their plan?


One thought on “Let’s talk about the G20 protests”

  1. The g20 summit in Toronto was a few months ago, in June. A much more frightening issue at the summit was the designation of downtown Toronto as a ‘security zone,’ where police could conduct search, seizure and detention on anybody entering or approaching the zone.

    The plan of the black bloc is to cause immediate economic damage to the corporate multinationals that profit off exploitation and corporate globalization. I’d guess that some in the black bloc are police agitators, but most are well meaning, compassionate people that (in my view) fail to develop any long-term strategy for how to get the g20 countries (particularly the US) to make decisions in democratic forums, not forums for the global corporate elite.

    Though what makes the civil-society groups ‘respectable’, and not the black bloc folks? I hope it is not that their choice of tactic is largely symbolic and likely not very effective.

    Not that the black bloc tactic is any more effective, but I do a double-take when people are called ‘respectable’ due to the tactics they entail. You can disagree, but to say that only one deserves your respect does nothing for the left but promote disunity. Solidarity with people who share a goal is in my opinion entirely distinct from disagreements on tactics or strategy.

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