Downtown Toronto is beginning to look more like a fortress that a city core in preparation for the upcoming G20, June 25 to 27. The city has removed trashcans, bus shelters and even young saplings from the summit area and erected a three metre high concrete and metal fence which stretches for three and a half kilometres.
Police from all over are moving into the downtown core and their presence is ubiquitous. Wendy Drummond of Toronto Police Services said the increase in officers, in part, is to make citizens used to seeing so many police. Toronto Police Service will spend $122-million in security budget that go towards salaries of 6,000 policing staff and protective clothing, covered by the federal government.
In preparation police began installing 77 closed circuit security cameras around downtown on top if the 18 that are already installed. Toronto police have purchased four LRADs (Long Range Acoustic Device), a device they refer to as a "communication tool." LRADs can emit a warning tone higher that the normal human threshold of pain and is capable of permanently damaging hearing as far as 1.5 kilometres away. LRADs and tear gas are both used to dispel crowds, and mollify demonstrators' behaviour.
The Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where the summit will be held, will be closed from June 19 to 29. On the June 18 it was looking more like airport security clearance than a convention hall, with baggage scanning x-ray machines and metal detectors.
As the city prepares for lockdown, the former Toronto Film Studios on Eastern Ave., have set up a temporary jail for processing detained protesters. Meanwhile protesters pledge to take "action against the agenda of the rich to marginalize and criminalize the poor."
While all of this security is being erected to protect the world leaders from the "dangerous" protesters, these opponents are gathering in solidarity for the 2010 People's Summit, working to build a movement toward a more just world. They unite with concern that the G20 promotes a status quo that serves the interests of elites and not the concerns of citizens. Most of the $1.2 billion budget is going to intimidate and dispel legal democratic dissent and terrify locals.
Here are some of the messages being spoken at last weekend's People's Summit.
Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians addresses the Peoples Summit one week prior to the G8/G20 summits. Barlow has said she believes that the G8/G20 should be abolished and should be substituted with a real democratic process.
Robert Lovelace, professor of Queen's University in the Department of Global Development Studies, is an activist in anti-colonial struggles and speaks on issues regarding corporate social responsibility. He advocates that change and decolonization has to start from the grassroots and build from the bottom up. Sustainable direct action must be integrated in throughout all of the activities we do, education, teaching and healing. It is the primary tool for building momentum and often the signature of the underlying philosophy of a movement. He believes that how we use direct action very much says what we are and is often hijacked by the media which show [activists] as warrior insurgents and/or terrorists. "Peace is a process not an outcome... and has to be apart of direct action."
Robyn Bright represents Micah Challenge Canada a campaign guided by the biblical call in Micah 6:8 to pursue justice, mercy and humility. They exist to inspire and equip the church for advocacy and action in response to global poverty, to work in unity, alongside governments and other to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and thus halve global poverty by 2015. They are collecting handprints to send out to their national leaders to say we want to be a part of the solution.
David Moffette of No One is Illegal Toronto is sending a message for migrant justice and status for all to have access to food, shelter, jobs, health care and freedom from harassment. NOOI wants Canadian institutions to stop the displacement of people, making them vulnerable and subject to injustice.
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