Re: Toronto - Global Street Party!

Theodore Latham (tedrico@hotmail.com)
Sat, 16 May 1998 20:13:20 PDT


Graeme,

     Sound like yet another chapter in the life of an activist :)

Regards,

Tedrico Latham

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Graeme Bacque <gbacque@arcos.org> wrote:
>
>Drums. Whistles. Bikes. Blades. Guerrilla gardening. Street theatre. 
The
>weaving of a rainbow web. Giant puppets. and finally - a confrontation
>with police horses and four arrests.  All this and more took place this
>afternoon as more than 500 people reclaimed a four-block stretch of
>Bloor Street West in downtown Toronto for several hours.
>
>People gathered initially at two seperate locations about noon today. 
It
>was clear from the start that the cops were uneasy - their minds are so
>clearly rooted in hierarchical thinking  that the concept of a
>leaderless event with no clearly defined route or destination was too
>much for them to handle.  As a platoon of cyclists from Critical Mass
>made their noisy way north on Bathurst Street people from the other two
>gathering points fell in, and to the reverberation of drums made our 
way
>to the destination point of Bloor and Brunswick Avenue.
>
>Frictions began when several cops with knives went through the crowd
>slashing through a web woven out of rainbow-colored strips of cloth
>which criscrossed the street for more than a block - people followed
>behind retying it as fast as the cops could cut. At one point a 
vigorous
>tug-of-war erupted for possession of a section of the web... the lone
>cop trying to confiscate it found himself surrounded by revellers and
>was forced to relinquish it.
>
>The guerrilla garden which was established about two blocks from there
>became another tense scene. A bag of compost was deposited in the 
middle
>of the street and seeds were planted... a cop on a mororcycle attempted
>to drive through it but found himself facing a line of people placing
>themselves between him and the garden. The police numbers increased as
>people began to drift away at about two o'clock  (Eastern time)... then
>the horses were driven into the crowd and the first of several arests
>were made.
>
>There were definite frictions at this point between many of the
>participants and the organizers - many of the former wanted to stand
>their ground until the welfare of those arrested was determined while
>the organizers of the event frantically tried to browbeat people into
>going to a nearby park to continue the party  As it was, the crowd 
wound
>up splitting in two at this point with the larger group retreating 
along
>a side street while the smaller, more millitant contingent made its way
>west along Bloor St. At the park where the two groups were to rejoin,
>the cops made another hard push into the crowd and further arrests took
>place.
>
>Most people lingered in the park while - after a period of confusion -
>about 100 of us made our way to the police station about a mile away
>where people were being held. It was tense - we were met by dozens of
>cops surrounding people on all sides as we gathered to win the release
>of our friends.
>
>Eventually two of the four arrestees were let go about seven-thirty 
this
>evening after being charged with unlawful assembly. . The other two are
>being held overnight on more serious charges of assaulting police and
>will be in court in the morning. The charges are ridiculous - it 
appears
>that people were merely grabbed at random. Especially bizarre is this
>cop claiming this one  man went for his gun when the cop first tried to
>arrest him. (Never mind that several pigs spent nearly an hour wading
>through the crowd brandishing knives as they tried to destroy our web.)
>
>All in all I would say the day was really successful, but not without
>serious reservations... the organizers seemed to feel that the
>predetermined time frame of the event was to be adhered to no matter
>what but to my mind once our friends were arrested the whole game plan
>changed. Once that happened, the priority became ensuring the safety  -
>and hopefully securing the release - of those picked off by the pigs.
>Simply moving the revelry to the park without regard to the needs of
>those in custody totally depoliticized what happened.
>



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