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Crash the Redux

Breakaway March at G20 anniversary event

March reaches Queen & Spadina. (Image credit: Paisley Rae)
March reaches Queen & Spadina. (Image credit: Paisley Rae)

Hundreds of people converged on Queens Park this past Saturday to mark the one year anniversary of the G20 and call for a public inquiry.  The rally, organized by labour and civil liberties groups was titled G20 Redux & was billed as a "freedom festival" not as a protest.  Many were surprised and disappointed that organizers had no intentions to take the streets, and soon rumours were being spread throughout the crowd that an unpermitted breakaway march would take place at the end of the rally.  

Once a critical mass had been gathered for a breakaway march, anarchist hip-hop group Test Their Logik, who were denied the opportunity to speak or perform at the official rally due to their politics, hyped the crowd with music and a short passionate speech which kicked off the demo in a defiant and celebratory tone. Three hundred people then spilled into the streets chanting anti-police slogans.

As the march progressed it also grew.  Countless bystanders were inspired and excited to see people in the streets on this anniversary and jumped into the demo, swelling the numbers and contributing to the high energy and organic nature of the march.

Despite the collective memory of repression and trauma that still haunts Torontonians in aftermath of the G20, this march was fearless and unflinching.  There was an atmosphere of collective power and joyful rebellion as the leaderless march snaked its way through the same busy city streets that saw mass demonstrations a year earlier.

Excitement in the crowd grew as the march approached Queen and Spadina and calls were made to occupy the intersection in remembrance of the notorious kettling incident which took place there.

Queen and Spadina was occupied for nearly half an hour while some activists organized an impromptu sit-in. Farrah Miranda of No One Is Illegal led the crowd in a Seattle-style 'repeat after me' speech about what had transpired on these streets a year earlier so that the hundreds of curious onlookers would know why the intersection was being blocked. "People were beaten" Farrah said, reminding everyone of the widespread police violence that occured. Many others also gave speeches about their experiences and led the crowd in chants until the general consensus was to leave this intersection and march to police headquarters.  

Emboldened by the successful occupation of Queen and Spadina, the march proceeded to block and hold several other major intersections along their way chanting "Whose streets? Our streets!" and "no cops no prisons - community resistance!"  Anti-police stickers were put up along the march route and masked individuals rearranged construction barriers to obstruct accompanying police.

Even after nearly two hours in the streets, the march had high spirits and energy, loud chants, and a defiant attitude. At Yonge and College protesters occupied the intersection for 15 minutes chanting "drop the charges!", referencing those facing serious charges including the 17 co-defendants facing conspiracy charges for organizing protests during the G20, and declaring solidarity with these individuals by name.   

The march then moved to police headquarters itself and speeches were made about police impunity, corruption, brutality and inhumanity. One heavily masked individual stated that "Every single tactic used by police during the G20 is recognizable [because] they're practiced everyday in policing in this city in poor and racialized communities."

The police, obviously under orders to not cause additional bad press for themselves, made no arrests and the demo returned to Queens Park where it was dissolved after a quick speech about the need for organized resistance, solidarity across movements, and developing networks for radical social change.  

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Tags: g20

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