We all want simple explanations of everything, don't we? Nothing too complex to give us a headache, to make us question the media spin which is being served morning, noon and night. I'm sure I'm not alone in that I get tired of it all. Tired of sorting out the chaff from the wheat, the lies from the truth.
Like the Ontario police forcing through last minute legislation for unheard of suspension of basic human rights and granting themselves the use of extraordinary measures in Toronto, spouting off about anarchists and terrorists. Who are they trying to intimidate with these words?
Why, ordinary protestors like me and you. What a deterrent to the subdued masses to see heads being crunched by batons, full body and private vehicle searches, people hauled off to jail, rubber bullets fired into crowds, sound cannons deafening those who dare to speak up for the rights of the downtrodden. Makes one think twice about going out with a placard, right?
Who are these anarchists, one might ask. Well, they're often plain clothes police themselves, stirring up the crowd, breaking windows, whipping up the hysteria, planting rocks and weapons.
A study has been made of this phenomenon by Naomi Archer, an indigenous rights activist.
She has studied the Miami Model* of this kind of warfare against peacefully protesting citizens and has come up with a 40 box checklist, amongst which are:
• Information warfare. This starts weeks before the event. Protesters are criminalized and dehumanized, and described as dangerous “anarchists” and “terrorists” the city needs to defend against.
“Often, a faux cache is found,” says Archer. “They are usually ordinary objects, like bike inner tubes, camping equipment, but the police make them out to look threatening. It lays the groundwork for police to be violent and it means there’s a reduced accountability of law enforcement.”
• Intimidation. Police start random searches of perceived protesters before any large rallies. They are asked where they are staying, why they are walking around. Police raid organizer’s homes or meeting places, “usually just before the summit, so there’s maximum chaos organizers have to deal with,” says Archer.
•“All this is meant to dissuade participants. The best way to make sure you don’t have a critical mass of people taking over the streets like in Seattle is to reduce the numbers at the outset.”
•This is usually made possible by last-minute city regulations, curtailing the right to protest. In Miami, the city commission passed a temporary ordinance forbidding groups of more than seven to congregate for more than 30 minutes without a permit.
Read more here:
And in case there's doubt about any of this:
More than 270 people were arrested in Miami during the summit seven years ago.
How many were convicted, in the end?
“None,” says lawyer Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, who was the president of the Miami chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union back then.
It will be most interesting to see how many Toronto protesters will be convicted.
And that's the real story.
*It refers to police tactics used in Miami seven years ago, during the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit, and, more importantly, the protests erupting on the streets outside.