G8/G20 - they few; we many [x2] June 16, 2010 9:08 PM   Subscribe

Toronto G20 protest meet up! (tugs collar)

There have been two posts in the last 24 hours about the upcoming G20 summit in Toronto with much bellyaching about the lunacy of the whole affair.

In that time honoured tradition of turning speech into action, I would like to suggest a metafilter protest meetup. After all, there's been joking in the threads already.

Protests shouldn't have to be about artsy dancing papier-mâché puppets or getting arrested. It's a real shame that the two main media narratives available in North America are 'goofy protesters' or 'violent protesters.' I think public assembly is as legitimate a form of expression as anything else and I hope there are fellow mefites who are interested to come along for the ride!

[full disclosure: I'm volunteering with the Toronto Community Mobilizing Network and am doing my best to incite participation amongst friends, family, and internet loved ones to the anti G8/G20 events]
posted by dustyasymptotes to MetaFilter Gatherings at 9:08 PM (54 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I think our best bet will be the People First March located within the 'free speech zone.' It's classified as 'low level police involvement' on the Toronto Community Mobilizing Network events page. It's safe enough that I know people who are planning to bring their family/kids.
posted by dustyasymptotes at 9:08 PM on June 16, 2010


I'm definitely in!
posted by avocet at 9:22 PM on June 16, 2010


Totally in.
posted by Phire at 9:37 PM on June 16, 2010


If a large group coalesces, and we're open, I can see about putting together some sort of party package thingy at the restaurant, which is right downtown.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:03 PM on June 16, 2010


Everyone could show up with big colored protest signs with appropriate content:
  • Blue "Best of the web" signs with quotations about the summit (and URLs at the bottom). Clipboard and pen for commentary.
  • Green signs with pointed questions about what is really going on at the summit and in the world.
  • Gray commentary on other mefi protesters' signs or behavior, perhaps with big arrows that can be pointed at the signs or people.
If there are no mods on hand, one will have to be appointed by the mods. Flaming out will be a matter of throwing down your sign and walking off in a huff, and then literally crawling back to ask the designated mod if you can be reactivated.
posted by pracowity at 3:26 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm in. Still undecided whether I am bringing my children despite Sid's assurances. Since I am outside Toronto I'll be catching on of the free CUPE/CLC buses (in case other people weren't aware of them).
posted by saucysault at 3:27 AM on June 17, 2010


If a large group coalesces, and we're open, I can see about putting together some sort of party package thingy at the restaurant, which is right downtown.

I think "Party in the USA" is the soundtrack to that party.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:54 AM on June 17, 2010


I'm protesting the G20 by hiding out at home and ignoring it.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:14 AM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm protesting the G20 by hiding out at home and ignoring it.

My sentiments exactly! (Having said that, I'll be watching to see if this "restaurant thingy" materializes.)
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:15 AM on June 17, 2010


Are you going for goofy or violent?
posted by fixedgear at 7:25 AM on June 17, 2010


According to the linked mobilization page, there's a group starting out from Queens Park alongside the People First rally that intends to be confrontational. The cost and the extent of the security is disgusting, and I wish there was a way for everyone in the city to highlight the folly of it all, but there is no way I'm joining any organized protests or marches. In my mind, they're all part of the dance that is imposing itself upon the city. Standing in a park listening to Sid Ryan or Judy Rebick drone on over dusty protest chanting sounds like no fun to me. If the weather is good, I intend to go downtown and observe, note how much friction I encounter when I'm just going about my business on a weekend day. I was questioned by security guards at Union Station a couple weeks ago (when the building was supposed to be participating in Doors Open) for sketching in a notebook while waiting for people. I'm curious whether sitting around drawing people in some place like Nathan Phillips Square will draw flack during a period of absurdly heightened security. That may be my way of poking the beast.
posted by TimTypeZed at 8:32 AM on June 17, 2010


I'm going to hole up on my leafy backyard porch, drink beer, and poke pins in my Harper voodoo doll. Mr. Go Banana will be off on a 24 hr bike race (you know, for fun) and I'm not comfortable bringing Jr. anywhere west of the Don on my own. Hopefully the east side stays nice and peaceful.
posted by Go Banana at 10:17 AM on June 17, 2010


Zut alors. I could do Friday, but I will be on the road Saturday heading east. (Of course, with all the road closures, it is possible that by the end of the day I will be no further than Pickering.)
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:49 PM on June 17, 2010


Rejoice! Turns out I could make it Saturday after all! Name yer time and place.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:54 PM on June 17, 2010


Is noon a good time for people? Or should we make it a bit later? It will be crazy hectic with a ton of people. We need a really clear landmark to meet at. Any suggestions?

I'm really in love with pracowity's idea with the signs. Is any one interested in a poster making/banner making session? We can have a pre-meetup at the convergence space some time next week.
posted by dustyasymptotes at 4:48 PM on June 17, 2010


(if metafilter signage, then goofy. I guess.)
posted by dustyasymptotes at 4:51 PM on June 17, 2010


I'm thinking the 'forest' immediately north of Sid Smith on St. George south of Harbord – fairly unmistakeable...
posted by avocet at 8:28 PM on June 17, 2010


I'm going to be busy building a fake lake.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:15 AM on June 18, 2010


dustyasymptotes: i'm up for a poster making/banner making session. i don't live in Toronto, but will be in/around there a few times next week. or, if there's not enough interest/people to get that going, we could meet up earlier on Saturday to make them..?
posted by gursky at 7:01 PM on June 19, 2010


If you guys can let me know by Wednesday how big a group you're planning on, that would be great. Email in profile. The restaurant is near City Hall. I won't be there Friday as I'm off doing a charity event.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:42 AM on June 21, 2010


Looks like there are about 8 people confirmed, including a mefite I've spoken to offline. Anybody else want to chime in before I email dirtynumbangelboy about the restaurant? I'm memailing with a few people to determine when/where poster making session will me. Message me if you'd like to get on that train.
posted by dustyasymptotes at 2:11 PM on June 22, 2010


Maybe it could be held at a captured Esso Station. Joking.
I'm still not sure of the date of the proposed meetup...26th?
We've got 3 kids and our plans are to head out of town on Saturday afternoon...but if we can't, dnab's restaurant idea sounds really cool if it's a later, chill kind of thing and we can leave the kids at home.
Can I do a maybe until the night before?
posted by chococat at 9:02 PM on June 22, 2010


I memailed dustyasymptotes but I haven't heard back. If this is a lunch thing on Saturday then I'm totally down, but I might have unspecified non-GRAR plans Saturday afternoon.
posted by Phire at 6:24 AM on June 23, 2010


Saturday lunch would be good by me as well.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:25 AM on June 23, 2010


Should we:
- lunch with dnab then protest
OR
- protest then tea with dnab?

If the former, we can meet around 11 or 12 and then mosey over around 1:30. If the latter, we can meet at the location avocet suggested around noon, and have afternoon tea after everything wraps up. Votes?
posted by dustyasymptotes at 7:50 PM on June 23, 2010


Tricky. I'm grouchier when hungry, but I have more energy for telling people off when full...
posted by Phire at 8:09 PM on June 23, 2010


If you go with making posters, feel free to steal this idea: Make posters that say just "MetaFilter:" and "Pony request:", and hold these next to strangers' signs during the protest/march.
posted by Someday Bum at 10:51 PM on June 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ok, can someone please explain this to me?
I live in Toronto and have been having trouble with the idea of G8/G20 protesting.

This is not to knock this particular meetup suggestion. I'm new to metafilter, not out to discourage a meetup, just looking to the wisdom of the crowd here to explain why anyone would bother protesting this.

I agree that the money being spent on the summit/security is outrageous. All I can think about is what 850 million dollars could do for the ttc, our woefully managed, and underfunded transit system.

But what is so necessary and vital about these protests? Toronto/Ontario was chosen for the G8 and G20 Summits this year. So obviously some amount of money had to be spent on security and organization. I think they've spent too much, and the organizers obviously think they've spent the right amount. This is a valid disagreement which I think should be part of our public discourse.

Police spokespeople have already mentioned how the security measures are in place to deal with the protesters; Large groups of passionate people can often go too far in protests and local police need to be ready for that.

It then boggles my mind that people who protest the overspending in security measures then basically support violent protest, when it's the violent protest itself that the city is spending so much money to avoid.

It seems to me that the ultimate protest to overspending on security would be to organize to either not protest or make sure that protests are peaceful. The spending has been so well publicized that a boring non-response will just make organizers look foolish. This of course assumes they're unable to spin it as a victory of preparation and deterrence.

Furthermore what is there to protest at the G8/G20? Specifically? You need a clear and well defined message in order to protest successfully. But the issues that face the G8/G20 countries are so varied that anyone and everyone will be out to protest. That fracturing will just de-legitimize each individual group, and if one group grabs headlines for something ridiculous and/or violent it will de-legitimize all groups together.

I think no ones voice will be heard above the roar of all the rallies, and the only narrative news media will be able to use is "the crazy protesters".

There's no overall theme to the G8/G20 summit, which is why any and all protest will fail.
It's just an excuse for people who enjoy protesting to get out there and shout.

Am I wrong? Can someone more educated about these issues please correct me if I am missing something. I actually care about this stuff, so I care about doing it right; is there anything really worth protesting over here? I'm by no means an expert on this, I've just been following the news and this is bugging me.
posted by breakfast! at 12:37 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Breakfast! - I'm totally with you. I wouldn't know what specifically to protest, or how to meet up with other people protesting that specific thing. And if I did have a specific issue, I'm not sure standing outside a huge fence yelling past cops on giant horses is the way get the changes I'd be after.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:56 AM on June 24, 2010


Police spokespeople have already mentioned how the security measures are in place to deal with the protesters; Large groups of passionate people can often go too far in protests and local police need to be ready for that.

It then boggles my mind that people who protest the overspending in security measures then basically support violent protest, when it's the violent protest itself that the city is spending so much money to avoid.


not everyone protesting at the G8/G20 are protesting only the overspending. and, as was pointed out in a G20 thread on the blue, the overspending is win-win for Harper: if nothing happens, it's because they were properly prepared; if something happens, well, that's why they wanted to spend so much money on security.

as well, not every protester supports violent protests. i intend to be at one of the rallies on Saturday, but i will not be violent. if the rally i choose to attend turns violent, i will likely go elsewhere.

It seems to me that the ultimate protest to overspending on security would be to organize to either not protest or make sure that protests are peaceful. The spending has been so well publicized that a boring non-response will just make organizers look foolish. This of course assumes they're unable to spin it as a victory of preparation and deterrence.

again, the win-win aspect. as well, it's nearly impossible to ensure all protests will be peaceful. there are several different groups protesting, ranging from peaceful, non-violent groups to student activist collectives to aggressive anarchists. not every group has the same intentions. while i agree that turning violent will only make getting some kind of anti-G20 message heard very difficult, i can't say i don't understand the rage and frustration.

Furthermore what is there to protest at the G8/G20? Specifically? You need a clear and well defined message in order to protest successfully. But the issues that face the G8/G20 countries are so varied that anyone and everyone will be out to protest. That fracturing will just de-legitimize each individual group, and if one group grabs headlines for something ridiculous and/or violent it will de-legitimize all groups together.

again, what people are protesting will depend on their interests. for me, i will be protesting the summit itself (the money being spent, the empty promises that are made), and showing my support for groups that are holding these leaders accountable (Oxfam is one group i can get behind).

There's no overall theme to the G8/G20 summit, which is why any and all protest will fail. It's just an excuse for people who enjoy protesting to get out there and shout.

this is your opinion. protests can only "fail" depending on your understanding of their objectives. in my opinion, the protests can't fail because to me, protesting is about demonstrating that not everyone is on board with the leaders and their decisions. i feel the need to be there, in person, to show that there are people paying attention. if i just stayed at home and saw coverage on the news, i would be very angry and frustrated. protesting gives me an outlet. it lets me meet with other like-minded (and not like-minded) people to discuss issues i consider very important, and i think adding to the number of people showing their disgust is important. it might seem pointless to other people, but i would be really sad if there came a day that people just sat at home instead of standing up for what they believe.

Am I wrong? Can someone more educated about these issues please correct me if I am missing something. I actually care about this stuff, so I care about doing it right; is there anything really worth protesting over here? I'm by no means an expert on this, I've just been following the news and this is bugging me.

i'm no expert either. i've only attended a few protests in my life, and while i could definitely view my involvement as futile and silly, i feel better attending protests than just grumbling about it to friends and doing nothing at all. that's just my preference, though.

i can only speak for myself, but i'm sure the same is true for at least some other protesters when i say that we don't expect the changes to happen because we're holding signs and marching outside. i don't think the goal is to have any of the G20 leaders see us from the window and think, "you know what? yeah! we should increase the amount of aid we give to developing countries! child poverty is a big problem! we've broken far too many promises!" because that's unrealistic. but we're trying to show that we are paying attention, we're not happy with how things are happening, and we won't just sit down and take it.
posted by gursky at 8:13 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


(i hope my reply didn't come off as confrontational or defensive - i just wanted to respond because i had a similar conversation with friends last night. i really do understand the "what's the point?" take on protesting.)
posted by gursky at 8:16 AM on June 24, 2010


No gursky that helps, and I think your points are very reasonable.

I didn't really consider the way protesting itself can be important. It reminds leaders that people are paying attention.

The win-win scenario could be avoided by no one really showing up to protest, and all the police and security forces standing around looking silly. Although perhaps they could spin that as well.

I'm still at a place where I think protesting is important, just not in this particular instance.
I can't see how any public outrage at the G8/G20 will turn into anything but expensive white noise.

But I'll watch the news and hope for something particularly creative to stand out and make a decent point.
posted by breakfast! at 9:28 AM on June 24, 2010


I'll preface my response by saying that I was also doubtful and apathetic towards direct action until very recently.

gursky's answer was great, and I'd urge you to read through the responses posted in this thread. filthy light thief's response names some of the key players and processes in the G8/G20, which are responsible for the emergence and entrenchment of global uneven development practices. Given that the effects of these huge institutions have serious effects at the level of the individual citizen, and considering the extreme power imbalance at work, what actions towards change do you think might be more appropriate?

Convergences such as this also allow citizens to learn from each other – while I haven't yet attended a protest this week, I'm doing some behind-the-scenes volunteer work and have learned an incredible amount from everyone I've interacted with so far this week.

But I'll watch the news and hope for something particularly creative to stand out and make a decent point.

What you're looking for will likely not be on the news, as most outlets are continuously feeding the GRAR ANARCHISTS VIOLENCE image that their viewers/readers have in mind (if web comments are an appropriate indicator of that mindset). That said, apparently CBC's coverage has been fairly critical of the police so far. Also, please keep in mind how much freedom of expression has been curtailed by illegal police actions this week.

Meetup related: I don't think the location I suggested will really work as UofT's in lockdown as of this morning. If we're not meeting at dnab's restaurant, maybe Taddle Creek Park just north of St. George Station on Bedford would work?
posted by avocet at 10:00 AM on June 24, 2010


Hi all. I just emailed Dusty; I think you should seek another venue, as chef and management are deciding whether we're going to be open or not on a day by day basis.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:19 AM on June 24, 2010


Hi, the UTSU (the U of T student union) building is staying open this week. I met up with people before the indigenous march today. I will find out by the end of the day if that's going to be a planned meeting place on Saturday and whether we can meet there. There was breakfast served there today so hopefully there will also be lunch there on Saturday.
posted by dustyasymptotes at 1:54 PM on June 24, 2010


I agree with gursky and avocet's excellent responses, especially around the undemocratic nature and results of the G20's decision-making process. These affect us in Toronto, too.

IMO, I don't believe that protesters at these summits have engaged in any particularly violent behaviour nor will they this weekend. There is much discussion of Diversity of Tactics, which is a position intended to increase unity and solidarity among protesters, but also means very little public criticism of actions that are counter-productive or even harmful. It is also not very democratic, but I also would not want to see opposition organizers' time taken up doing the work of separating "good" and "bad" apples, which in a worse form can be seen in the "Seat at the Table" rhetoric and organization. I think that "Diversity of Tactics" encourages an unhealthy image that a protest's perceived goal involves macho-creative actions that must result in an arrest. This discourages people from registering their dissent, especially those who feel life and society's burden more heavily - the frail, the overworked, the parents, the immigrants, the racialized, etc. They cannot afford to be arrested. They are also already discouraged by things like Toronto's free paper, the Metro, having a picture of a big burly armed cop as its front page picture (demonstrating the riot gear is more of a message against dissent than against violence).

BUT...

I don't think protestors' actions really determine the police presence. Probably the worst of property damage that has occurred is still far less than what these security bills add up to. I think most of the property damage is against corporations and banks that can quite easily pay for this, or be reimbursed by governments, not mom 'n' pop stores. It's also important to remember that this is the "violence" being spoken of, along with some stone-throwing at riot police (which is generally unhelpful in a place like Toronto). Only the police have killed at these protests. The overwhelming police presence at G20 protests is extremely provocative (and one can see when the police are fully mustered how ridiculously White, indeed British-Irish they are - in ordinary times in Toronto the police send a varying number of officers who are generally more diverse).

Anyway, I think these examples of property-destruction by protesters (or agents provocateurs in some cases) are generally counter-productive, discourage people from coming out and shouldn't be done. I (and I think the various organizers of these protests) want a loud, non-violent, well-attended protest. This does not necessarily mean a strictly legal protest, since the most illegal thing promoted by the organizers involve those who are willing crossing over the boundaries, such as the fence. But that is simply civil disobedience. I don't think a protest should necessarily be tame.

Finally, in a non-conspiracy theorizing manner, I do think these sort of events are tests of public reaction to an increasing security state that directly affects things like free speech and freedom of assembly. When we protest, we say no to that.
posted by Gnatcho at 3:22 PM on June 24, 2010


Hi all,

I've confirmed with the student union and we can meet on the lawn of their office around noon. The address is 12 Hart House Circle. See you there!
posted by dustyasymptotes at 10:56 AM on June 25, 2010


see you then!
posted by avocet at 11:05 AM on June 25, 2010


I know it's a late RSVP, but I'll be around and will try to pop by to meet y'all at noon at the student union.

And hey, for those who are curious about what issues protesters are talking about, this is a useful article talking about the wide range of reasons people come out. tl;dr: A summit isn't just for world powers behind a fence with a fake lake, it's also a time for ordinary people to speak out and articulate alternatives to their positions.

I wouldn't miss it for the world. See you guys tomorrow!
posted by Joad at 7:57 PM on June 25, 2010


I hope to make it there by noon but my volunteer shift ends at 7 (eek!) – just in case, could someone attending possibly MeMail me their number so I can keep in touch via text in case I'm running late?

see you out there in...a few hours.
posted by avocet at 1:45 AM on June 26, 2010


Already have plans with Ms. Cat, but everyone have fun, be safe, and don't get police-stated!!!
posted by tantrumthecat at 5:41 AM on June 26, 2010


uggghhhhh I fell asleep at around 9 am and woke up at 1. Still want to get down there, but sorry for missing the meetup!
posted by avocet at 10:49 AM on June 26, 2010


I hope you guys and gals are staying safe out there.

Looks like things are getting a bit out of hand in some areas.
posted by breakfast! at 4:01 PM on June 26, 2010


Just in case anyone cares, I'm home safe and sound. Had a US federalo agent (Federal Securit Agency) offer to get me a cop car to escort me to work (about a block from the first burning cop car), which was nice. We ended up staying openish, as much as you can whyen RCMP has your entire building on security lockdown.

What a surreal day.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:01 PM on June 26, 2010


That got a lot more out of hand than I expected it to. I decided to hide out in one of the calmer GTA 'burbs for the day... I'm living downtown at the moment and I really didn't want to be caught in the thick of it.

I hope everyone got home safely. DNAB, it's good to know you're okay.
posted by Phire at 9:16 PM on June 26, 2010


Glad to hear the downtown MeFites are OK. I am SO MAD right now! What blockheaded lunatic thought hosting this ridiculousness in the middle of a giant city was a good idea? Oh, right, Mr. Lego-Hair Harper.
posted by Go Banana at 9:22 PM on June 26, 2010


Go Banana, that is a hilarious and accurate description! i feel as though i won't be able to NOT think of it when i see photos or videos of Harper, much like my now skewed view of John Kerry.
posted by gursky at 9:58 PM on June 26, 2010


Yeah, I'm fine. Got to work and one of the hostesses said I looked traumatized. I was; assholes were setting cars on fire in my home, for fuck's sake. (By comparison, she's Irish, grew up towards the end of the Troubles, and has had to deal with far worse).

I kind of wish we had real fucking hippies in this town. I know some protesters were throwing flowers at the riot cops (who, frankly, did a very good job yesterday)--we need more of that kind of behaviour. Shame the anarchists, if they are even capable of understanding the emotion in question.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:05 AM on June 27, 2010


Can mefites who are downtown today check in here please? I know gnatcho and dustyasymptotes are okay. Anyone else?

(And if you're fucked downtown, MeMail me; I'm d/t and secure, can come find you)
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:53 AM on June 27, 2010


I got kicked out of one of the residences at St. George and Bloor because it was too close to Queen's Park, but they thought it would be a good idea to relocate us to Dundas and Chestnut instead. Clever, U of T, clever. We're getting kicked out of here again and back to St. George by 6... hopefully things will have calmed down by then.
posted by Phire at 12:01 PM on June 27, 2010


The Alternative Media Centre has been visited by police once today. I'll be there tonight (though not staffing through the wee hours as I was Friday night) and will be checking in here.
posted by avocet at 1:03 PM on June 27, 2010


I'm fine, got home OK. Nice to meet you guys. Thanks for the snazzy shaker!
posted by Joad at 1:43 PM on June 27, 2010


Hi. Didn't come back to this thread but I'm ok. I have no words anymore.
posted by avocet at 9:54 AM on June 28, 2010


Boston.Com's photo coverage.
posted by Phire at 12:04 PM on June 28, 2010


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