Police ride herd as G20 protesters march the streets
Toronto Police kept a close eye on a group of protesters Monday afternoon -- activists who were partly protesting the heavy police presence in the lead-up to this week's G8 and G20 summits.
"A police state, a police state: Rise up, rebel, before it's too late," chanted a hip-hop duo called Test Their Logic as the event kicked off in Allan Gardens.
Police officers on bicycles kept the group surrounded as it moved from Allan Gardens down Sherbourne Street, west on Dundas Street East and then north on Yonge Street before finally dispersing onto Isabella Street.
Military helicopters could be seen in the skies above the march.
There were a few heated moments, and one arrest was reportedly made. There were no injuries.
The protesters had no organized route, so police just tried to keep things safe, said
CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness. The march temporarily affected local traffic and transit.
At one point, about 20 of 100 protesters went into an Esso gas station at Church Street and Dundas, but soon left to rejoin the main group.
The demonstrators appeared to be protesting "everything," she said.
They appear to be mainly concerned with Palestine, capitalism and the upcoming summits, Parness said.
"If the system will sit in their little meetings and have their little cocktail parties and deal with this and this and this, and won't solve the problems, we're forced to do something else," activist Julian Ichim told reporters.
Police said they are trying to ensure the safety of protesters, pedestrians and motorists -- and they will be a continuing presence at any further protests this week.
A major protest is planned for Friday, the first day of the G8 Summit in Huntsville. The labour movement is organizing a major demonstration for Saturday, the first day of the G20 Summit in Toronto.
Monday marked the completion of the roughly three-kilometre security fence that surrounds the inner security zone around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre where the leaders and their delegations will meet.
Police have begun questioning drivers, cyclists and pedestrians circulating in the downtown core ahead of the arrival of leaders and delegates from 20 developed countries.
Unmarked cars with magnetic red flashing lights attached can be seen entering and leaving the inner zone, along with men in dark suits who aren't challenged by police.
Uniformed officers have batons, riot helmets and gas masks at the ready.
If security needs demand it, the inner zone can be quickly and completely shut down, said Const. Wendy Drummond, a spokesperson for the G8/G20 Integrated Security Unit.
Meanwhile, police say a water cannon has been added to their crowd-control arsenal.
Provincial police Const. Michelle Murphy of the Integrated Security Unit says the water projection system will be used to control large crowds if there are riots.
She says the security plan is moving ahead as planned and officers are being put in place.
Toronto's police chief has said 5,100 officers have been assigned to keep the city safe as the weekend summit nears.
Officers have been doing security sweeps through parks where protests will be held and workers have put the finishing touches on the three-metre-tall fence that surrounds the security zone.
People are being advised to avoid the fenced-off area, although many are having their picture taken by the fence, and officers will ask those trying to get inside for identification and their reason for entering.
Motorists can expect slowdowns in the downtown core, and police suggest commuters use public transit.
"There's going to be extreme slowdowns and road closures," said Murphy. "People have to be aware of that. Their movements are going to be restricted in certain areas."
Ads in local newspapers today explain the security zone and advise people how to deal with it.
Security measures are now fully in place at the Deerhurst Resort near Huntsville, where the G8 Summit will be held.
People attempting to access the resort must pass through security checkpoints. Water access is also restricted. Sgt. Pierre Chamberland said the Integrated Security Unit's plan's remain "extremely fluid" so as to adjust to any changing circumstances.
CTV Toronto's Janice Golding said there also is a noticeable military presence in Huntsville.
Cottagers in the Lake of Bays area should remember that Highway 60 will face major traffic restrictions in the Huntsville area, she said.
The LCBO announced Monday it is shutting down seven stores for three days as a safety precaution during the G20 summit.
The list includes one of its flagship stores on Queen's Quay, which is also a main distribution site for downtown bars and restaurants.
The agency made the decision to avoid becoming a target and for the protection of customers and workers.
The seven retail outlets are close to the security zone including one at Union Station which is inside the zone.
Other locations to be closed include:
- Queens Quay, 2 Cooper Street
- First Canadian Place
- St. Lawrence Market, 87 Front Street West
- Loblaws Plaza, 10 Lower Jarvis Street at Queens Quay
- 415 King Street West at Spadina Avenue
- 337 Spadina Avenue, north of Dundas at Baldwin Street
The seven locations will be closed from Friday, June 25 through Sunday, June 27.
Bar and restaurant managers are being advised to stock-up ahead of the closures to avoid going dry during the summit.
With reports from CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness, Paul Bliss, Alicia Markson and Janice Golding, plus files from The Canadian Press