Damned if they do . . .


At the risk of saying I told you so, well, I told you so.

The insanity visited upon the streets of Toronto yesterday by the so-called anarchists was shameful in the extreme. Toronto Mayor David Miller more properly called them criminals and Prime Minister Stephen Harper was spot on when he referred to them as thugs in a prepared statement.

For everyone who whinged and moaned about the cost for security for the meetings of the most powerful leaders in the world, you have now seen the reason. The frustrating part of that though, is why do we constantly need to do this.

Throughout the day’s news coverage of events in Toronto, we watched as the biggest city in this country descended into chaos, into the very anarchy the police stand to protect us from. And yet, it seems to me the police are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

When, in a coordinated move, the Black Bloc-heads split off from the main group of loopy lefty protestors and began their pre-meditated destruction in the financial sector of Toronto, the police backed off. They reinforced and brought in tactical-equipped officers and methodically took control.

The mob hit in separate groups in different areas creating a fluid, moving situation of chaos.

Media were saying the police weren’t doing enough, that they had lost control. The reality was that the police were playing a cat and mouse game with the main group of protestors who kept twisting and turning trying to get near the security perimeter where the leaders of the G20 were meeting.

Indeed, as the thugs set two police cars ablaze at Bay and King Street on the surface it may have seemed like that. But the reality was much different.

The initial crowd control for the main protest was being done by officers on bikes and normal or “soft” uniforms. Several thugs attacked a police car with the officer still in it. He was monitoring the protest as police do when the crowd attacked. Other officers not equipped with tactical crowd control gear, got to the car and surrounded it, got the officer out and retreated to a point of safety. That’s when the thugs trashed the car and set it alight.

This You Tube video shows the soft position initially taken by police and the moment things got ugly including the rescue of the officer as the thugs attacked his cruiser.

There’s no doubt the police were taken by surprise by the suddenness of the attack. But, there was no point to standing and fighting to protect that police car. They let the thugs have their way while incident commanders mustered their resources to respond. But all the while, they never moved their perimeter security from the security zone.

The police then gave up any pretense of a soft response as they moved to restore order. They worked well into the night making hundreds of arrests of so-called protestors.

By morning the police were on the offensive. At one raid at the University of Toronto, they arrested 70 people working off a tip. They also seized numerous “weapons of convenience.

At a later demonstration at the Detention Centre, officers fired “muzzle blasts” at the crowd and penetrated and arrested a male identified to media as the “leader of the Black Bloc.”

As the day progressed, police began making proactive checks of people in the downtown core and seized everything from black clothing in back packs to bottles of urine and bricks.

To this point more than 600 people have been arrested. The cat and mouse game continues but thus far, the police seem to be winning the day. There will be recriminations of the police for not doing anything when the Black Bloc-heads were were bent on their destructive tactics. All the while there will be those who will say the police acted too aggressively in responding to the violence.

As usual, the police are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. But, from everything I saw, the police acted with remarkable restraint and professionalism in very trying circumstances.

Leo Knight

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