G20 Summit in Toronto

by Syafiq Azhari

Saturday 26th June 2010,

Many streets were closed around the city and there was a temporary shutdown to the transportation system. I arrived at Union Station at 2.30 pm and walked to the subway, but suddenly a police came approaching and informed me that the system was not currently operating. I took a glance at the screen displaying the news on current situation around the city. There was a protest, people were marching holding posters on the street protesting G20, some of them were dancing in front of the police lines guarding the conference.

There were three of us at that time and we walked out to the street. I decided to take some pictures and let them go before me. The police forces made a fortress and built fence around the building where the conference took place. There were lots of press journalists and crews from local broadcast stations. After lunch, we went out and headed to the Dundas Square which is the heart of the downtown Toronto. Many people were standing at the sidewalks and on our way, the traffic came to a halt as they had to give way to a police convoy and seemed like there was an emergency.

To be frank, I have no idea what was happening. Arriving at Dundas Square, I could see the sense of confusion and bafflement in the faces of crowd. Glasses were broken and many business stores were damaged. It would be great to go with the crowd and take some good pictures, because I was never in this situation before, however my friend stopped me because it could be too dangerous.

Cleaners look extremely busy sweeping and removing the smashed glasses. The riot group was just passing by the road and they were heading south towards the conference location.

We went home and news reported that two police cruisers were set fire by the protesters and some of them were charged. Sources that I obtained online said that the riot was caused by a small group of protesters who broke out from the crowd. They smashed the windows, and throwing stones to create a chaos in order to penetrate the fence surrounding the G20 summit. Police sirens were everywhere and they were on full riot gear. It brought me to go online and search for some information about G20. Why did people were so mad and caused a big riot around the city? To be honest, I don't know anything about the G20 alliance before. But now, at least I have a rough idea and why did people so mad. This was what actually happened on the street just before we arrived. Click the riot.

Sunday 27th June 2010,

The atmosphere was calm and stores opened their businesses as usual. However, the policemen were everywhere, they were inspecting people especially those who looked suspicious. Some of them were charged and their belongings were confiscated.

Unexpectedly, on the street, a group of people roughly 100 of them were riding on their bicycle and waving "Peace" flag, one of the participants felt down onto the street but that didn't even lifter her flagging spirit and she decided to continue the march. It was a peaceful protest and they were guarded by policemen.

People on the street looked to give them some supports and cheered up the group. My friends and I walked to the Future Shop store at Dundas Street and while I was about to enter the building, an armed security stopped me and said that the camera was not allowed in the building. Fine, I shut it off and apologized, I didn't know it was illegal to bring along my camera though. People look to continuously flood the area around the Dundas Square and it was like a usual day but the policemen were still everywhere. They might be looking for people who were involved in the riot day before or potentially cause a new riot. I didn't know.

I read the news on the website and learned that yesterday was the sixth day of the conference and it was actually the first day the G20 leaders arrived at the city, that would be the main cause of the big riot. I walked through Yonge Street in the evening towards south and the sidewalks have been cleaned and some premises covered their stores with plywoods.

A massive downpour left Aiman and I in wet and everyone seemed to shelter themselves under the rooftop of the sidewalks and some were in the bus stops. I stood next to a group of policemen who were inspecting a guy. I was afraid if they did the same to me, because I didn't bring along any identity card with me. Thank God, they weren't. While we were sitting in front of a hotel, a man holding a protest banner came and he was smiling. We didn't even bother him, but suddenly, he offered his umbrella. We refused to accept because I don't know why, and he left. Haha, we missed the golden opportunity.

Hakim, Affan and I left centre avenue for Hamilton that night, the subway was operating as usual but the train didn't stop at Union Station. It was flooded with water due to the heavy rain, and we have to stop at the next station and go down to Union Station on foot. While passing by the station, we saw the water was flowing down the stairs like a waterfall. They have to do something with their system though. And a usual one-hour ride from Union Station to Hamilton took almost two hours no thanks to the closed streets around the city. After all, it was a great weekend full of unexpected. Now, let's get back to study.
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ibnuazlan said...
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ibnuazlan said...

You can't snap photos in private buildings. I learned that when I snapped a picture inside BMO. I was still new in Toronto back then.

The man who approached us wasn't holding a protest sign. He was a homeless guy who was asking for change. The sign that he was holding said something funny but I forgot what it was. Maybe it was a good idea to take a picture with him. LOL

Syafiq Azhari said...

oh, i didn't know it was illegal though...hahaha...nevertheless, he was a noble man i should say...offered his umbrella to two unknowns...peace