The world powers of G20 have been in Toronto, Canada, and it brought $1 billion in security measures to the city. The Metro Toronto Convention Centre became the center of its security lockdown, and it drove the local people crazy. A law allowing persons to be arrested who refuse to show ID, and who are within 5 feet of the barricade surrounding the convention centre, has also been put under attack.
Local transportation was suspended in the downtown area, as well as in the airspace above it. With police and security tight, inevitably, violence has erupted.
Although it is meant to ensure security, a security lockdown can be seen as downright scary for local civilians. Thus, a sense of insecurity prevails, with everyday life out of control. This is not exclusive to what is happening in Toronto. It seems to prevail whenever authority is taken away from the local population and given to “security”.
During the record floods of 2008 in the Midwest, the locals were also bludgeoned with tight security measures. In this case, people who were suffering and experiencing grave losses were being treated as if they could be the criminals. This seems to be the case whenever security measures of any magnitude are being enforced. Anyone could be a criminal (as with the above-stated 5-foot law), and the presumption seems to be guilty until proven innocent. Though this still can be seen as a necessity, it can also make a frightening situation even worse. There is little room for compassion with this type of security. They have their job to do. Nothing is personal.
The action taken during the floods was to cordon off flooded communities. State police guarded the entry and exit point of each community, and locals had to present ID in order to be able to get to the areas surrounding their homes. Some of those whose homes were still safe had been boating to their residences (many homes in the vicinity are built on stilts for such things, and some were still on high enough land), though eventually this, too, was banned for safety’s sake.
The National Guard came into the area to sandbag areas where it might help. Army trucks were everywhere from the local city to small towns, and were even parked in people’s yards in rural areas. Although the help is still greatly appreciated, at the same time, it still felt more like a war zone than a safety measure. This is not something that is normal to see here. The mind knows what it is, but fear of the unknown can still take it over. It is completely unfamiliar, and you have no control over what was once your own. Thus, what seems secure is also insecure.
In essence, it is understandable that the city of Toronto would be up in arms over its home being taken away and given to dignitaries for a time. For these civilians, being affected by the scrutiny of a security zone could feel like being caught up in a trap, regardless of how safe it is. The locals have lost control of their city, their routines, and normal daily life, even if just for the short time that G20 is still in it… But, then, nothing is truly your own.
For others, the extensive media attention given to an area under tight security offers a platform for their voices to finally be heard. Still others, albeit the few, are just what the security measures are meant to deter – outright thugs and criminals. Yet, for still more, life just goes on anyway.
Sandro Contenta, Canada: Here comes the G20, Global Post
Jennifer Yang, G20 law gives police the sweeping power to arrest people, Toronto Star
Toronto Sun Staff, Anarchists leave a trail of destruction, Toronto Sun
CBC News – Canada, G20 protest violence prompts over 400 arrests
Jennifer L. Thompson, Memories of the Great Floods of 2008, Associated Content