Black Bloc tactics mar Canada's G-20 summit
At this weekend's G-20 summit, small bands of protesters wearing black clothes broke off from the main protests to rampage violently in what is known as Black Bloc tactics.
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The protesters were not able to break through the barrier surrounding the area where world leaders are meeting, and instead turned to smashing windows and looting banks and other stores; setting fire to at least four police cruisers; and throwing bricks, rocks, and bottles of urine at police. According to CNN, police used tear gas, pepper spray, and bean-bag pellets against the protesters. Many had soaked their clothes in vinegar in anticipation of tear gas.Skip to next paragraph
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Toronto’s police chief said some of the attacks were meant to draw police away from the barrier surrounding the summit area so protesters could attempt to breach it, reports CBC News. He also warned that the hard-core, violent anarchists would be back Sunday.
Smaller protests this year
Despite the violence, the protests in Toronto are markedly smaller than previous years. A G8 summit in Genoa, Italy, in 2001 drew as many as 200,000 protesters; dozens were wounded and one person was killed by police. Tens of thousands protested at the G20 summit in London last year, and a bystander died after being shoved by a police officer.
But some in Toronto complained that the police were protecting the location of the summit at the expense of the rest of the city. A columnist for the Toronto Sun said the objective of police was to stop people from getting through the barrier. “Much of the rest of the city was, however, left on its own,” he wrote, calling for a “frank discussion” of why police at some points stood by while protesters smashed property.
A security specialist quoted by The Canadian Press, however, says police handled the protest correctly.
But security expert John Thompson, who has studied demonstrations for 25 years, said police handled the mobs the way they should. He said officers will often let demonstrators tire themselves out and then slowly push them away. By keeping them moving, police prevent tension from boiling over into intense violence.