In case you haven't noticed (or have been locked in a closet somewhere), there were protests going on at the G8 and G20 meetings in Toronto, Canada. Every time they have these economic summits, wackos and anarchists from all over the world show up to protest. Which brings up several questions:
- How do these people get the money to travel?
They certainly don't all arrive by bicycle so they must be traveling on planes, trains, and automobiles. That makes me wonder about their commitment to ecological issues.
- What are they actually hoping to accomplish?
They haven't, so far as I can tell, impacted any decisions made by those holding the meetings. And this is after years and years of protests.
- Isn't it really just an excuse to wreak a little havoc?
They seem quite organized. They attack mostly corporate stores and banks. Not that it matters, these places all have insurance which allows them to repair the damage at minimal cost. I always find it amusing that they attack Starbucks. Especially since I suspect many of these people organize online while sipping $9 lattes at their own local Starbucks.
When I was in the Navy, we happened to be in San Francisco for repairs while the protests over People's Park were going on in Berkeley near the university. We were warned not to visit the area. In fact, they ran us through some tear gas "training" the first day we were in port.
Tear gas training consists of bringing in 5 sailors into the back of a large van. In the van is a bucket of water and two instructors. You can tell who the instructors are because they have gas masks in their possession. They also have tear gas canisters. After a short lecture consisting of the words "we're going to show you what tear gas feels like", one of the instructors pulls a tab on a canister and drops it in the bucket of water.
The water prevents the canister from setting the van on fire because these tear gas canisters heat up quite a bit. The tear gas is bad enough without having to deal with a burning van.
Since the rest of us had no gas masks, we got to actually breathe the tear gas. It burns. It stings the eyes, the nose, and the throat. You feel like you are going to choke, you hack and cough which only makes things worse because these actions require you gasp for breath thereby sucking in more tear gas.
An instructor then makes you state your name and service number before you are allowed to exit the van. And you must wait until everyone does this because they apparently don't want any gas to escape when they open the back doors.
Unlike protesters, we did not have water-soaked rags to cover our faces. Nor, of course, did we have gas masks. I am sure I was not the only one tempted to jump an instructor and take his. But we were rendered pretty much helpless and incapable of aggressive action.
The actual purpose of this exercise was to discourage us from joining the protesters.
We immediately headed for Berkeley once we left the base. After all, I had a friend I wished to visit who lived right next to the contested park. Well, he wasn't exactly a friend. He was the friend of a friend and he sold marijuana and LSD. Out of his apartment. With the police presence and National Guard camped below his apartment building. I suspect he sold to a number of the Guard.
The point of the protests over the People's Park were legitimate. And in the end, they won. The school administration decided to build the additional student parking elsewhere. But while those protests went on, there were a number of really good parties at the frat houses. The protests were more theater than serious protest. Most of the protesters did not go to school at Berkeley. I am sure many of them didn't go to school anywhere. They were there for the "scene."
That, I think is the purpose of these G20 protests. Just a reason to show up, make noise, meet girls (or boys), and maybe get in a little looting. Maybe they were bored because there were no soccer riots at the World Cup.
And the administration thinks the Tea Party people are dangerous?