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Into the Fire: the story of the 2010 Toronto G20 protests

Using footage from a variety of sources Press for Truth tells the story of the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto, from the perspective of the people on the ground.

The Canadian government reportedly spent $858 million(Canadian) on security for this event, and the film shows the results of this, with metal fencing shutting off large areas of the city from the people who lived there.

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Armed police and other security forces practiced zero-tolerance, seizing and locking up ordinary citizens on the flimsiest pretext (one man was arrested, detained and beaten up simply for wishing two police women “good luck for Saturday”).

  Toronto police  corralling peaceful protesters during the G20 summit on the intersection of Spadina and Queen,  June 27, 2010.

Toronto police corralling peaceful protesters during the G20 summit on the intersection of spadina and queen, june 27, 2010.

And in the most grotesque expression of violence for its own sake, a 57-year old amputee was seized, beaten, his prosthetic leg ripped off. When he couldn’t walk to the paddy wagon, he was dragged there on his back.

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A Toronto movie studio was turned into a temporary “detention centre” that photographs like something Winston Smith would easily recognise. Hundreds of people were brought there, locked up in wire cages, and kept for hours, simply for having been on the street. The toilets had no privacy doors on them and young women were forced to use them under the watching eyes of male police officers. Some of those arrested hadn’t even been part of the protest, but were just at the wrong place, at the wrong time. One man was incarcerated for trying to enter his own apartment building.

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 Remote detention centre  Photo: Joe Warmington,

caged protesters in the detention centre Photo: Joe Warmington,

In all 1105 people were arrested. 300 were charged. At the time the movie was made (April 2011), all but 97 of these had had their charges dropped.

All this is shocking, but not that surprising to anyone who’s been paying attention over the last fifteen years or so. What’s more disturbing is the footage and testimony that seems to show the event being managed and manipulated as some kind of giant media photo-op.

Eyewitnesses describe, and the video seems to capture, the cops being inexplicably ordered to stand down while a small group of masked thugs calling themselves the “Black Bloc” rampage in front of the news cameras, smashing windows and setting fire to cop cars. The people on the street repeatedly say how staged this looks, and when you watch, it’s hard to disagree. The masked individuals later seem to have discarded their masks and black clothes (found lying in piles) and escaped without capture.

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At the same time, but elsewhere in the city, the cops were ordered to move in and attack groups of peaceful demonstrators, making what amounted to random arrests with an insane level of violence.

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Edited together and shown on the evening news, these pieces of footage were used to tell a largely fake, or at very least highly manipulated, story of widespread violence all over the city. The Canadian PM, Stephen Harper, then used this narrative – along with the huge numbers of arrests, most of which never resulted in charges – to justify the massive expense on security, and further clampdowns on civil liberties.


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3 Comments

  1. Someone who destroys property is a vandal, not a thug. It doesn’t really matter whether they were APs or not. I can assure you there are anarchists who would burn police cars given the chance. I don’t condone it, but why join the state in obsessing over a little vandalism, mislabelling it “violence” and “thugery” when it is the agents of the state who are the violent thugs, and when the vast majority of protestors did not participate?

    Liked by 1 person

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