Downtown Toronto trees, bus shelters removed for G20 security

Posted Jun 16, 2010 by Stephanie Dearing
In a move that has many Torontonians scratching their heads, officials in charge of G20 security have ordered that trees in the security zone have to be removed. Bus shelters and garbage cans have also been removed.
Ahead of the G20 Summit in Toronto  city officials erect a 3-metre (9 foot) security fence and remov...
Ahead of the G20 Summit in Toronto, city officials erect a 3-metre (9 foot) security fence and remove glass bus shelters from parts of the downtown core. Security costs is estimated to reach $1.1 billion.
The Globe & Mail reported that not all the trees will be removed; only the trees along the security perimeter are posing a hazard to the safety and well being of world leaders. The Integrated Security Unit has told media representatives the organization will replant the young trees once the summit is over.
The National Post reported that Integrated Security Unit spokeswoman Constable Wendy Drummond said the saplings could be uprooted by protesters and used as weapons, hence the need to remove the trees. CTV reported that only trees small enough to be uprooted by two or three people were being removed.
The police were also clearing away parked cars in an area of downtown Toronto in preparation for the summit, which begins on June 26. As announced by the City of Toronto in early June, bus shelters are also being removed, along with newspaper boxes, garbage cans and bicycle rings. In place of garbage cans, plastic bags have been attached to poles along major streets. There have been no explanations explaining the safety hazards posed by bus shelters.
The combined police forces providing G20 security are concerned about anarchist participation in the G20 protests, especially the ones they call the Black Bloc, reported CBC News.
An anarchist group that calls itself the Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance (SOAR) is said to be calling for a militant confrontation, reported Infoshop. However, according to the SOAR website, the group is planning the Resist G20 2010 campaign, which includes planned protests, education and The People's Summit. Also during the lead-up to the G20, there will be marches, peace rallies and a tent city among many other planned anti-G20 events. SOAR has neither confirmed nor denied the rumours that it is orchestrating an attempt to "humiliate" the police.
Another organization organizing protests against the G20, Toronto Community Mobilization is holding a party on June 17 to celebrate the opening of the G20 Convergence Space. Spokesperson Syed Hussan told Infoshop that protesters needed to be concerned about violence originating with the police, saying that very few protesters are violent.
Many Canadian anarchists have tried to get some distance between themselves and the May firebombing of a bank in Ottawa, which has been blamed on anarchists. In a press release published in Linchpin in May, Common Cause member Kyle James said "Despite widespread claims by the media, there is no indication that the recent "firebombing" of an RBC bank branch in Ottawa was carried out by "anarchists. Nowhere in the statement or video that was published online was it claimed that those responsible were anarchists." The press release went on to say "Workers, including bank workers, have nothing to fear from anarchists."
If you ask the anarchists about the Black Bloc (and not many do), they will tell you Black Bloc is a strategy, not a group. The idea is to generate solidarity during a protest march and "ratchet up" a protest, among other things, but overall, the aim of the bloc is not violence. Violence, anarchists say, stems from police who instigate incidents and some black bloc protesters choose to fight back. Sometimes black bloc anarchists choose to destroy property as a statement during a protest, but this appears to be a personal decision more than a group decision.
Word from the anarchist community is that no-one is planning to make the Toronto G20 protest into the new Seattle. The 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization were a big moment in history for diverse groups who managed to disrupt the WTO negotiations.
One anarchist wrote in the Anarchist News "... The G20 has nothing to do with the way I live my life and I presume it has nothing to do with yours. In my immediate experience, world leaders are simply images on TV screens, subjects in newspaper articles, voices on the radio. They are not people I can ever have a conversation with or whom I will ever get close enough to that I can punch them in the face."
In the meanwhile, as word of the new security preparations are making their way around Toronto and Ontario, people are beginning to voice their consternation and anger with the Toronto G20 security perparations. One Tweet attributed to Tracymunu said "OMG leave the trees alone!" qu1jot3 tweeted "Fearless Prime Minister #Harper. "Trees! Why'd it have to be trees?!" #g20" Crobins72caq said "They are going to tear out trees near the MTCC for the G20, Harpers ego trip in now costing us environmentally too! He must be stopped!" and Mildredstemple said "please don't steal our trees, G20! pretty pretty please!"