I’m a few days behind on posting. My friend Janice Lee has been much better at posting daily updates from the streets of Toronto, and I would urge you to check out her blog.
Soon, I will post about the inspiring Toxic Tour of Toronto that took place on Wednesday, as well as my thoughts and some information on what has been happening in Toronto this weekend. But for the moment I thought I’d share my first encounter with police on Wednesday, because I believe it is fundamentally important for many accounts of people’s police encounters (whether violent or not) to be available online and being shared.
On Wednesday, while on the way to an environmental justice protest in Toronto, in the lead-up to the G20, I had my first taste of the paranoia and the enormous police presence that has taken over the city. My friend Asha and I were walking with a sign condemning Canadian mining companies, and a light stick we were intending to tape to the sign to hold it up.
We were a few blocks away from the bus station at Bay and Dundas, and still a ways from the beginning of the protest we were moving towards, when two police officers stepped out of an alley and approached us. I transcribed our conversation immediately after it took place; it is as close as possible to verbatim:
Female Officer: Can I talk to you?
Myself: I don’t think I want to talk. Attempts to keep walking.
Female Officer: We’re concerned about your stick.
Asha: It’s for the sign.
Female Officer: I’m not concerned with you, with peaceful protesters. We’re removing it for your safety and ours from other protesters. Both the officer and Asha are holding the stick at this point, though neither are pulling at it. We’re not concerned about your sign, you can use something else that can’t be construed as a weapon.
Asha: It’s not a weapon, we’re going to a tour.
A male police officer who had been standing back approaches.
Male Officer: I doubt that you’re going to a tour with that sign.
Asha: No, we are. It’s a toxic tour.
Female Officer: We appreciate that but we need to take this. We’ll just keep it for you, we can tell you where it is.
Myself: What can I use to hold up my sign that you won’t consider a weapon?
Female Officer: I don’t know, you’ll have to figure that out on your own.
Asha and I decide to give up the stick. She let’s it go.
Asha: There goes another civil liberty.
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