Toronto cleaning up from G20 vandalism

Toronto cleaning up from G20 vandalism
# 28 June 2010 18:25 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. While life returns to normal in downtown Toronto following the G20 leaders summit, the clean-up from the demonstrations is just beginning, APA reports quoting “CTV News”.
The weekend protests saw police cars set on fire and countless store-front windows smashed. In all, more than 600 arrests were made during the summit. And there could still be more to come.
Toronto police say they’re still looking for a few more organizers of the anarchist groups blamed for most of the destruction.
Most of those arrested were let go without charge. Others were released on condition they appear at set court dates. Still others were kept in custody and will be in court today to face charges of assault, breach of peace, inciting a riot, and other crimes.
In an interview with CTV’s Canada AM Monday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper denounced the violence that he called "pretty disturbing and pretty deplorable."
"That said, these leaders, we attend summits all the time and we know the unfortunate reality is that these summits attract a certain thuggish criminal element. And that’s just the reality," he said.
"Unfortunately, when you have peaceful protests, there are some who use it for other purposes… So leaders understand, we’ve seen it in other cities, we’re going to see it again in the future."
Harper has said that the protests and the ensuing police crackdown explain why the security bill at these summits reached more than $1 billion.
Mayor saddened by vandalism
Toronto Mayor David Miller says he and his office have long said that the downtown convention centre was not the appropriate place to host such a large event.
"From the beginning, the city said to the federal government, ‘You shouldn’t host an event like this downtown because of the complexities of policing it. You should host it at a place like Exhibition Place; it’s a place that’s self-contained.’ I think unfortunately some of the challenges we saw this weekend came from that decision," Miller told Canada AM Monday.
He said he hopes local businesses will take advantage of the compensation the federal government has promised to businesses that either sustained damage or lost revenue from having to board up their storefronts.
He noted that police had a nearly impossible job in trying to thwart highly organized protesters who were bent on destruction.
"They’re criminals – they’re not protesters, they’re not anarchists – they are criminals that came to Toronto, hid in crowds of legitimate demonstrators and deliberately committed violent acts," he said referring to protesters using Black Bloc tactics.
"I think compared to similar events around the world, our police did a remarkably good job and people should be starting from that perspective."
Security expert Alan Bell says there’s no way police could have won the public relations battle of securing this summit, since they were condemned for not doing enough Saturday, then slammed for coming down too hard on Sunday.
"The big problem we have is that police are going to be damned if they do, damned if they don’t," he told Canada AM.
He says it seems the protesters were methodical in their actions, trying to create distractions in certain pockets of the downtown so that other demonstrators could move in on the inner security perimeter around the summit site. The job of the 10,000 law enforcement officers brought in from around the country was to attempt to thwart that, he says.
"Trying to move so many police around different areas while maintaining the integrity of the security zone was very difficult. And I think they learned quite a lot from the Saturday interaction. Then on Sunday, they got it right. They went out there and prevented these things from happening," said Bell.
"They got criticized for that as well, but I don’t know what people expected them to do."
Swift police action
Police appeared to lower their tolerance to protests Sunday after watching four of their squad cars burn Saturday.
At one point Sunday, police and protesters were engaged in a tense and bizarre four-hour standoff at a busy intersection in the city’s core, when a large contingent of police boxed in a group of about 200 people in heavy rain.
Police moved in and picked out certain protesters and arrested them. Then, just before 9:45 p.m. local time, police let the remaining crowd go free.
Talking to reporters late Sunday night, Toronto Police Staff Superintendent Jeff McGuire was pressed to explain why police had barricaded people for so long in the rain. McGuire responded: "We’re not perfect in everything we do, but our interest was in the safety of the citizens of Toronto."
He added that police were trying to prevent the kind of violence caused by Black Bloc tactics the day before, and found weapons in the area.
"I don’t know the specific weapons. I’ve been advised that some weapons were found along the route as the officers were forming around this group," he said.
Earlier Sunday, there was a tense standoff at a temporary detention centre where hundreds of people arrested during the protests were held.
A riot squad used rubber bullets and blank rifle shots to drive back about 100 demonstrators at the seemingly peaceful sit-in outside the detention centre. Police then apprehended an alleged member of an anarchist protest group.
Eventually, police made a deal with the crowd, telling them they would release some of those arrested if the crowd moved off a busy street. The deal appeared to work and the crowd stepped back.
Police also raided a building on the University of Toronto campus Sunday and arrested at least 70 people -- not believed to be students. A spokesperson for the Integrated Security Unit said officers found a cache of "street-type weaponry" such as bricks and fuels.