Toronto, Ont.-Weirdness all round and I got really furious yesterday afternoon. I was attending the repatriation of Sgt James Patrick Macneil (killed last Monday in Afghanistan) by standing at the last leg for the trip from Trenton, when a motorcade from the base brings the bodies of our fallen with their families and escorts to the Coroner of Ontario.
Normally the police have a large presence in these, too, as they escort the processions and clear the way; also, Toronto Police Headquarters and the Coroner’s office are on the same block on Grosvenor, running between Yonge and Bay. I usually go up to Grosvenor and Bay and pay my respects as the hearse goes by.
Yesterday, the usual collection of Trotskyites and Anarchists with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) and all their new chums from out of town massed at the Allan Gardens between Gerrard and Carleton, east of Jarvis. OCAP have engaged in serious goonery before over the last 20 years and attracts those who like the ‘cutting edge’ of protest. Well, actually, the heavy stick of protest is more their style—all for ‘the People’ of course, whoever they are.
The Coroner’s office is in my neighbourhood of the last nine years, and I attend almost all the repatriations. Waiting for the motorcade yesterday, I noticed a few unusual types with bikes and cellphones skinning by as the police prepared for the final arrival of Sgt Macneil, but didn’t think the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty would sink so low as to try to disrupt the repatriation of one of our war dead.
The arrival of our war dead at the Coroner’s office always begins with a 2:00 PM arrival at CFB Trenton, and the trip from the base to downtown Toronto almost invariably takes about two and half hours.
The Anarchists and Trots lunged out of Allen Gardens up on Carleton and made a fast march towards Yonge Street, getting as far as College and Yonge with baseball bats and the occasional slingshot firing ball bearings (I overheard a police radio talking about molotov cocktails, too). In short, they got within about 150 metres of the Coroner’s Office just as the motorcade was arriving. The timing was not accidental.
It was clear that a lot of the out-of town police were taking the opportunity to pay their respects for one of our war dead and their presence was heavier than usual; but in the 15 minutes before the arrival of Sgt Macneil’s body, things got confusing. Buses and vehicles for hundreds of police in riot gear were suddenly heading into the Grosvenor/Bay intersection. The cops were frantically juggling traffic space and trying to get vehicles in place right up to the last minute. About 200 cops in riot gear were martialled right from their buses just as the hearse and the cars carrying Sgt Macneil’s family went by. Within seconds of the coffin being carried into the Coroner’s office and the last of his escort and family following, the riot squad marched by on the way to fend off OCAP.
Of course, the OCAP sturmtruppen then thought they’d go “liberate” police headquarters on College between Yonge and Bay (and perhaps break a few windows there and then run through the building and get onto Grosvenor). It was touch and go for a while, with maximum disruption for commuters as more police tried to route vehicle and foot traffic away from the scene. Then, OCAP figured they were too late to disrupt proceedings, and so headed off down Yonge Street to approach the fence; before calling it a day and returning to Allan Garden.
As usual, the press haven’t noticed what was going on. Some news cameras were around, but nobody seems to have put one and two together about what OCAP was attempting to do.
The protestors don’t do anything accidentally. I’ve been spotting scouting parties for the hardcore demonstrators for three days now, and have been hearing from friends in the police and security guard companies about the stockpiling of rocks, bats and other materials here and there in downtown Toronto for just as long. The Maude Barlow and Oxfam types can talk all they like about being peaceful, but some hard-nosed demagogues and street goons are very much front and centre.
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