What the heck did I miss?
It's a weird sensation, walking toward what everyone else is trying to get away from.
Little snippets of conversation:
"I can't believe they --"
"We can't have criminals like this --"
"-- they smashed it all."
And slowly it came into view.
The shattered glass and the crowds standing around with their cameras. On the corner of Yonge and Dundas a steel chair peeked out of the window of a Starbucks.
Across the street a Tim Hortons seemed just as bad off.
On and on I went, people walking by, taking photos of the damage and destruction.
People shaking their heads or their fists... a lot of people wondering where the police were.
And that was something that caught me off guard. I'd just figured that the cops had come and broken it up or something, made some arrests.
I spoke to a shop owner near Yonge and Dundas who was just happy that his business wasn't hit -- though the jeweler up the street wasn't quite as lucky.
I asked him what had happened and he said that he'd been watching the events unfold from his front door, that the crowd came up and what cops WERE there had all run away. He pointed to the debris on the streets, at the road signs that had been busted to pieces and used to break the windows and said "Why were these things left around? Did no one see that they could be weapons??"
He was taking pictures as well, shaking his head in disbelief. He told me that every level of government had told him (and other Toronto businesses) that it was all on them if anything happened during the G20. No matter what, they were not going to be reimbursed if there were any damages.
"And it's not like you can even get insurance for this!" he said. "They call it 'acts of Terrorism'... and you just can't get it."
He went back into work then, had customers to attend to... but we wished each other well, shaking our heads at the stupidity of the destruction.
Unfortunately there was still a lot more ahead of me.
This man stood on the streets, yelling at the top of his lungs that this was his opportunity.
He stood there yelling that his human rights had been violated by immigration officers.
The crowd that formed stood around and egged him on, laughing mostly as a few took pictures.
Fewer still noticed the tiny, scared woman peeking out from behind the shattered glass of the American Apparel behind him.
I'm guessing she was working when this all went down 'cause she looked a few shades of frantic, to say the least.
'Message received', I guess. I mean, how dare she work for an 'evil corporation', right? I'm sure she deserved that experience.
Side note: I learned slightly later on that the models in the window there had been splattered with feces... so, yeah, there's an extra bonus.
And yes, while I didn't see a SINGLE police person during the 45-or-so minutes I spent walking down Yonge street I heard helicopters high overhead and watched an ambulance work its way through the crowd.
Of course I wouldn't learn about classy acts like 'setting police cruisers ablaze' until later that night.
I wonder if that's where the ambulance was heading?
But yes, everywhere I turned there was broken glass and people taking photographs and shop keepers desperately trying to keep their wares safe from potential looters.
I went home afterwards and watched the coverage on the news and, when I saw that it was... well, not all that informative, I jumped onto Twitter... and that's where the real journalists were.
People sharing images on Twitpic and giving locations and updates on what was going on. Pointing us to raw footage and blog posts and personal views.
Here's some of the raw footage from the 26th:
Jeebus, man... this is nuts.