Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"This is like ... what terrorists do."

On Saturday, I was out for a walk. Near the US consulate was a small group of Tamil protestors (although I still think they're demonstrators, but that's semantics I suppose). A couple dozen waving flags and chanting across the many lanes of University avenue at, I'm assuming, the security guards on duty in the consulate. Canada has the largest Tamil population outside of Sri Lanka, so it makes sense that the protests against Sri Lanka have been taking place frequently here. In the past, they've lines the streets for kilometers, peacefully making themselves known until they block traffic in front of Union Station. It lasts a day, they go home.

I came back the same way an hour later - still there. 5 hours later - still there. 7 hours after that? At 1am, in the rain? Still there. I was impressed by the determination. In fact, if you scroll right and up in the Toronto panorama I posted a couple days ago, you can see this small group (look for the Canada life building, they're across the road and a bit north).

They stuck around Sunday. Then their numbers started to grow in the evening. Peaking at around 4000 in the early morning and blocking the street. The numbers dropped, then rose again.

Since then, the entire block has been closed to traffic as they've protested ceaselessly. 5 days - now I'm really impressed by their determination.

Finally, the police started to move them back across the road yesterday, and again this morning. You see, the next block north of there is called Hospital Row. There are 4 or 5 hospitals in that block, all of them major, all of them big. This means a preponderance of ambulances coming up and down that street regularly. They weren't even moving them OFF the street, just so they'd only block one side of it... and it's a big street.

The response? Well, here are some reactions. My favourite quote? "They're pushing us to be out of sight... I've never seen Toronto Police doing something like this. This is like ... what terrorists do."

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??? Someone smack that dipshit upside his head. THIS IS WHAT TERRORISTS DO? Find me ONE FUCKING TERRORIST who lets you protest for 5 days, blocking a major city street for 3 of them, blocking emergency vehicles (also a major police station around the corner, and fire station south of there), blocking thousands of commuters, while yelling for the salvation of a RECOGNIZED TERRORIST GROUP, and then moves you ACROSS THE STREET SO AMBULANCES CAN GET BY! SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP. YOU. FUCKING. MORON.

Look, I don't know nearly enough about the conflict in Sri Lanka to pass judgment. The Tamil Tigers have been at war with Sri Lanka for 25 years, there have been atrocities on both sides, and oceans of bloodshed. The Tigers are a recognized terrorist group, and the consensus seems to be they want a cease-fire to regroup and rearm as the Sri Lankan government has stepped up the fight. Their supporters say they want peace and an end to the fighting. I, naturally, smell bullshit on all sides of this. What I DO know is that comparing the Toronto Police to terrorists while you block ambulances from getting to hospitals is a very quick way to lose any support you've garnered from the community.

Then again, this was from The Sun - the bastion of sensationalist, poorly-researched, fear-inducing reportage in this city. If you listened to them, you'd think we were afraid to go outside because of the gang wars and rain of bullets here. So I suppose I should take their quotes with a grain of salt or seven.

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