Who’s Streets? Our Streets!

Coming back from the protest at Toronto Police HQ last night, I felt energized, positive, almost hopeful.  It almost felt like we took something back last night.  A small piece, but an important, essential immediate step a day after the unacceptable absurdities that we witnessed, that some lived.

I’m glad I went.  As I tweeted last night, it was peaceful, strong, beautiful.  And I thank again all who marched, but especially the organizers. You were most likely to be targeted for further oppression.  You couldn’t know for sure that it wouldn’t happen.  Thousands of cameras, live feeds, peaceful protesters didn’t stop brutality and flagrant abuses of power over the weekend.

Yet, you organized.  You brought us together.  And, we came.  So, thank you.

Some will say it’s great that the police “let” us protest in peace.  I found myself thinking those words last night. “Let us protest.” But, they don’t get to “let” us.  It is a right we have.  Funny how they’ve got us thinking we don’t.

And, sure, the police did what we hope they would do (well, other than the overwhelming presence and riot police waiting in the background…).  They did not restrict our right to protest.  They controlled the traffic so that it was a safe environment.  They did not get in they way.  They did not provoke us.

And, so we listened, we cheered, we chanted, we marched.

I took some pictures, and some video (one of which shows the potential a stupid unprovoked action by the police has).  

As you can see, it was pleasant, even fun.  But, don’t be misled.  It was serious.  As of last night people were still unacceptably locked up without good reason.  Their rights curtailed, abused.  Maybe you haven’t heard the first hand stories of what it was like in detention.  Maybe you don’t believe all the stories.  It’s likely that not all the stories are completely true, that some have possibly even been embellished a bit.  But, they are to be believed.  And, it be-hooves us to even believe the unbelievable.  Because we already know from the weekend that we should.  We already know that even the seemingly unbelievable can be completely true.

And, so, the onus is on the police, the politicians, to prove to us that they are untrue.  The onus needs to shift to them, not to those whom they oppressed.

We will give voice and pay heed to those who say they have been abused.  We will uncover the truth.  And, we will be, at times, disappointed.  However, no more so than the disappointment we feel at the blatant lies by a chief of police who tells us not to believe our own eyes, who shockingly suggests that protesters who might have had Black Bloc members intermingled in their peaceful protests are complicit in the acts of the Black Bloc. http://www.cbc.ca/metromorning/2010/06/mayor-and-chief-wrap-up-the-summit.html

Those who run the system have lied too much to us.  They do not get the benefit of the doubt.

Anyway.  

To the police, I thank you for shaking me out of my white, male, middle class complacency.  Sure, I’ve always worked in the community/non-profit sector, in the helping professions.  I thought that this was enough.  My contribution to society is good, I think.  I am helping to make the world a better place, I hope.  Sure, I’ve read enough articles about how our system of community/social supports are part of an overall system of societal oppression, keeping the miserable not quite miserable enough to completely revolt.  Even knowing that, I likely won’t stop working in that system.

But, obviously, doing this work is no longer enough.

I am awakened.  I am finally politicized.  I need to figure out what that means and how I will take practical steps.

But, this is no passing sentiment.  Not this time.

It’s why I felt compelled to be there last night.  I went home after work, but I felt drawn.  I apologized to my wonderful family that I had to go.  But, they recognized my need to be there, to protest, to do something.

Of course, I didn’t believe that the police would attack us this time.  But, I didn’t believe you would attack on the weekend either.  So, there was a bit of fear, I’ll admit that.  But, I would bear witness, take pictures, capture, document, share.  I’m glad I can share a record of peace, promise and people power.

But, I still fear them.  Police who are meant to serve and protect me.

I’m still struggling with this new reality – fearing the police. Being utterly disappointed by you.  I’m not entirely sure what to do about it.  

But, it’s not going to be nothing…

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marco

Communications in social services/social change, immigration, diversity & inclusion in Toronto. Wannabe librarian, interested in nonprofit tech innovation.

Communications in social services/social change, immigration, diversity & inclusion in Toronto. Wannabe librarian, interested in nonprofit tech innovation.

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