Calls for G20 inquiry continue in Toronto, Montreal, Quebec
The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, July 17, 2010 7:19PM EDT
TORONTO - The simmering anger many say they felt over police conduct during the G20 summit cooled off Saturday as demonstrators in both Quebec and Ontario focused on peaceful protest.
Face painting, music, dancing, speeches -- and even bubble blowing were featured as part of a rally in Toronto which organizers called a celebration and a chance to heal.
"We need to heal our spirit and transform the pain and the trauma and the grief that we have experienced as a people and as a city, in order to be able to go forward," organizer Chrysanti Zora Michaelides said before addressing the crowd gathered at the Ontario legislature.
Protests over the G20 summit weekend, some of which turned violent, led to more than 1,000 arrests and a subsequent call for a federal public inquiry into how police handled security.
Saturday's rally in Toronto marked the third consecutive week a protest was organized in the city which played host to the world's leaders in June.
But compared to recent marches, this gathering was relatively low-key.
"Dancing is a protest too," human rights activist Judy Rebick told the crowd as she encouraged people to boogie.
Michaelides said the public is still engaged and committed to seeing a public inquiry.
But she acknowledged there may be a bit of fatigue setting in.
"I think people are completely marched out and we need to look at other ways and other forums to spread the word and unite on this issue," she said.
Michaelides described Saturday's rally as a celebration of civil liberties through the arts and music.
Some 300 protesters attended a peaceful companion march in Montreal, to add to the pressure on governments for a full public inquiry into police actions at the G20.
"Politicians like (Dalton) McGuinty, (Stephen) Harper, (David) Miller are refusing a real independent civil inquiry," said march organizer Mathieu Francoeur.
"For us, that would be a minimum. We want it to go further: Who gave the orders? Why so much oppression? Why did the police react that way? Why $1 billion in costs?"
A march was also held in Quebec City.
At Toronto's gathering a street theatre act kept people amused as it threaded through the crowd. It featured a cop on stilts harassing another actor playing a granny who was carrying knitting needles -- dangerous weapons according to the police officer.
Many people brought along their kids who sat down to have their faces painted with red maple leaves by volunteers.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of bubbles filled the front lawn of the Ontario legislature as about 60 people blew bubbles together.
Organizer Valentyna Onisko said the "bubble-in" was meant to draw attention to police brutality during the G20.
She organized the event after watching a video on the Internet of an officer threatening to arrest a young woman blowing bubbles during G20 protests.
She said the officer in question -- who is now being referred to on the Internet as Officer Bubbles --was welcome to join them and blow bubbles.
"He is more than welcome to come and I have no hard feelings towards him," Onisko said.