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Police state in, power suits out as Toronto goes into security shock

Posted By aaron On June 23, 2010 @ 2:26 pm In Police State | Comments Disabled

Marcus Gee
Globe and Mail
May 23, 2010

At City Hall, employees arrived at work to find a burly security guard demanding their access pass before they entered the normally unlocked doors. At a downtown law firm, lawyers were told to leave their suits and high heels at home and dress casual-like to avoid being set upon by anti-capitalist rioters. At one provincial government office, bureaucrats were told in late afternoon that the building was going under “lockdown” because protesters were in the neighbourhood. Many scooted for exits to avoid being trapped in the closed-up building.

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All of a sudden on Monday, our calm, mild, pacific city took on a changed feel as the security noose tightened in advance of this weekend’s G20 summit. In the downtown, packs of police officers on bikes roamed the streets – followed, incongruously, by a golf cart-type vehicle transporting water, juice and granola bars for the boys and girls in blue. Around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the shiny metal security fence neared completion, a ghastly thing, like all such barriers, that made the notoriously ugly convention centre that will welcome foreign leaders even more unsightly than usual.

Also downtown, the first significant protest march made its noisy way through the streets, decrying the “police state” created for the summit. In the name of animal rights, native rights, poor people’s rights and numerous other causes, they occupied a gas station for a few minutes before cops on bikes made them leave.

Despite all the advance warning, this comes as a bit of a shock to the system for a generally safe city where the hand of authority is light and the cops keep a low profile. Go to Europe and you see soldiers walking around the airport with automatic rifles at the ready; go to the States and you see military men and women all the time. Not in Canada, not in Toronto.

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