06/22/2010

Leave the bikes at home

If your parked bicycle goes missing from downtown Toronto this week, don't bother chasing down Igor Kenk -- chances are the police are the culprits this time.

ISU spokesperson Sgt. Tim Burrows says police have been removing suspicious bicycles parked overnight around the G20 security zone (an area roughly bordered by King St., Yonge St., the lake and Spadina Ave.).

"If it looks like an abandoned bike, it's gone," Burrows said. "(If the suspicious bike is parked) after midnight and before 6 a.m., the bike's going to be investigated and there's a good shot it's going to be removed."

Like the many bike rings (and bus shelters and garbage bins and tree saplings) that have already been removed from the downtown core, bicycles can easily be used as makeshift weapons, Burrows explained.

He said some bikes have already been removed by police. Any cyclist who discovers his or her wheels missing can check with the Toronto Property Bureau at 799 Islington Ave. (416-808-3750).

"The other day, there was a very old decrepit bicycle -- there was no way it could have been ridden -- and it was locked with a brand new Kryptonite lock. These things just don't go together," Burrows said. "Whether it’s intent is to be used as a weapon or any other nefarious purpose, we’re just not taking the chance."

Meanwhile, it seems some office buildings are accommodating their cycle-happy employees and moving staff bike parking indoors. Twitter user @kayakinstructor tweeted this picture today of a Queen's Park building, where a makeshift indoor bike parking seems to have been constructed in the lobby.

 

RCMP pinup boys on the water

Rcmp1
A group of RCMP officers congregated around five sleek black boats docked at Queens Quay and Yonge St. Tuesday morning.

Filled with scuba gear and other Miami Vice-esque accessories, the group was tight-lipped about its mission for the upcoming G20, directing all queries to media relations.

Rcmp2 “Apparently we don’t know how to talk,” said one jocular officer, who wouldn’t give his name. “Security is a big concern,” said another. One thing was for sure. They were buff, gorgeous and decked out in uniform. Automatic rifles were slung over shoulders. And handguns strapped to their hips.

While the visit left many questions lingering about the role of this seemingly special-ops unit in the lead-up to the G20, it raised another query as well: Why hasn’t the RCMP come out with its own calendar? A simple, “Can we help you with something, Miss?” got this young reporter tripping over her words. It certainly brought a little sunshine to an otherwise dreary day.

Updated schedule of planned protests

The Toronto Community Mobilization Network -- an organizing body supporting and coordinating protesters for the G8 and G20 summits -- released an updated schedule of planned protests yesterday. Whether you want to join in or steer clear, here is a list of some G20 demonstrations and events planned for Toronto this week:

June 18-20 All Day, Forum, Ryerson University: 2010 People’s Summit

June 21-24 THEMED DAYS OF RESISTANCE

June 21 Migrant Justice and An End to War and Occupation, Income Equity and Community Control Over Resources
  • 2 p.m. Allan Gardens, March: "All Out In Defense of the Rights of All"
  • 7 p.m. 25 Cecil St., Forum, “Harper's Attacks on Reproductive Rights at home and abroad”

June 22 Gender Justice, Queer Rights, DisAbility Rights

  • Various Times/Locations: “Creative transformations & street theatre for Gender Justice”   
  • 4:30 p.m. Yonge and Queen: “Creative Queer Resistance to the G20”

June 23 Environmental and Climate Justice

  • 11 a.m. Alexandra Park (Dundas and Bathurst St.), March: "Toxic Tour of Toronto"
  • 7 p.m. 55 Gould St, Forum: “People's Assembly on Climate Justice”
June 24 Indigenous Sovereignty
  • 11 a.m. Queen's Park, March: "Canada Can't Hide Genocide: Indigenous Day of Action  
  • 5pm, Toronto Underground Cinema 186 Spadina Ave, Film: "Six Miles Deep"
  • 8pm, 25 Cecil Street, Forum: "Confront the Invasion!" 

June 25-27 DAYS OF ACTION

June 25: 2:30 p.m., Allan Gardens, March. Block Party. Tent City: "Justice for Our Communities"

June 25: 6:00 p.m., Massey Hall, Forum: "Shout Out For Global Justice"

June 26:
1:00 p.m., Queen's Park, March: "People's First. We Deserve Better"

June 26: 1:00 p.m., Queen's Park, March: "Get Off the Fence"

June 26: Time/Location TBA, Radical Street Party: "Saturday Night Fever"

June 27: Time/Location TBA, Autonomous Direct Actions: "Getting Down to Business"

June 27: 1 p.m., Location TBA, Bike Block action

June 27: 2pm, St James Park, March: "Funeral March"

June 27: 5pm, Bruce Mackey Park (Dundas and Wardell), March: “Fire.Works.For.Prisons “

Terrorists unlikely to target G8 and G20 summits: CSIS

There has been "surprisingly little" indication of terrorist activity during the G8 and G20 summits,  the head spy at CSIS told the CBC Monday night.

Richard Fadden, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told The National's Peter Mansbridge that CSIS agents have been gathering intelligence for the past 12 to 18 months and there has been "surprisingly little on the terrorism front."

"We don't think there is anyone who is really interested in doing any harm from that perspective," Fadden told the CBC. He adds that Al Qaeda, for example, prefers not to have its "timing planned for it" and tends to strike when least expected.

But "anarchist groups" and "multi-issue extremists" are a different story, he warned. Fadden predicts "a substantial amount of people" will take advantage of the summits to get the world's attention.

"Nothing attracts the world media like the G8 and G20, so anyone who is interested in getting their issues in front of the public, I think, are interested in being in Toronto," Fadden said. 

He adds that his top concern is the "lone wolf" who has been planning something for the past year or two and comes in "unexpectedly."

"I think most people want to go and get their issues on the front page," he said. "But I think there's a small number who believe that the only way that they can do this effectively is by causing a bit of a ruckus."

06/21/2010

LCBO to close 7 locations during G20

Better start stocking up now. The LCBO will close seven downtown stores during the G20 summit.

“This action is being taken to minimize risks to customers and staff and reduce traffic congestion in the downtown core,” the LCBO says in a notice on its website.

The stores that will closed Friday through Sunday include:

* Queens Quay, 2 Cooper Street

* First Canadian Place

* Union Station

* St. Lawrence Market, 87 Front Street West

* Loblaws Plaza, 10 Lower Jarvis Street at Queens Quay

* 415 King Street West at Spadina Avenue

* 337 Spadina Avenue, north of Dundas at Baldwin Street

“It’s probably good advice to look at Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and get in early and get ahead of it. It will probably be busy on the Thursday at those locations that are going to close,” said Chris Layton, spokesperson for the provincial liquor retailer.

“We have 70 stores in the city of Toronto alone. If people need to do some shopping at the LCBO during the weekend, there will be a lot of other options for them.”

Employees of the seven shuttered stores will be redeployed to nearby LCBO locations, which will likely see a spike in business, Layton said.

For those Queen’s Quay residents thinking they can dodge the temporary prohibition by going to Vineyards Estate Wines across from the Harbourfront Centre, you’d better buy your vino as you head home from work Friday.

The store is will be closed Saturday and Sunday for safety reasons, said employee Daniel Chan.

“The last thing you want to do is have customers in the store if something happens. It’s purely it for safety reasons,” he said.

LCBO - Walton
Shoppers stock up on their liquor supply in June 2009, the eve before a possible strike by the LCBO staff. That cart looks like a weekend supply to me. Photo: Tara Walton

Don't stop ... just postpone

Yes, the “Rock of Ages” cast is taking a hiatus for the G20. But don’t worry, says star Tony LePage. Believing has simply been postponed, not stopped altogether.

06/17/2010

More signs of the summit popping up

First, the fence went up around the Metro Convention Centre. Then some lanes were partially closed for traffic at downtown streets. Now, Toronto police officers are swarming all over the downtown core.
 
There were officers at every intersection in the area around the Metro Convention Centre. Two officers were chatting with each other at Front and York Sts. while a lone cop was checking his BlackBerry at University and Wellington Sts. Just west of that, near the CBC building, three cops stood around a car parked on the street. At John and Wellington Sts., an officer was walking out of a Starbucks. A few metres west, two cops were quietly watching as a group of guests were unloading their bags from a cab right outside Soho hotel.
 
The G20 is eight days away but in many ways, it's already here.

- Raveena Aulakh

Police union calls for Sid Ryan to resign over “inflammatory” agent provocateurs comment

Sid Ryan - Steve Russell
Labour leader Sid Ryan at a press conference Wednesday, where he raised concerns that police may plant agent provocateurs among the G20 protesters to incite violence. Photo: Steve Russell

The Toronto Police union is calling for Sid Ryan to resign after the Ontario Federation of Labour president suggested police may plant agent provocateurs among the G20 protesters to incite violence.

“It’s totally irresponsible, inflammatory and idiotic thing to say for someone in his position. Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association.

“It’s a total insult to police everywhere.”

At a press conference for the “People First!” rally on Wednesday, Ryan said he had concern the police would use the disguised agents to cause chaos in order to provoke a violent response from security forces.

“They've done it before,” Ryan asserted. “I'm concerned about that as a tactic to justify police presence and justify the spending of $1.3 billion on security.”

McCormack dismissed the comment as “cheap publicity” at expense of Toronto police’s reputation.

“At the very least, Sid Ryan should apologize to our membership,” he said. “We’re not going to stand by and let him make these irresponsible comments.”

Meanwhile, in an announcement Wednesday, the Council of Canadians called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to give his assurance that no agent provocateurs will be used during the G8 or G20 protests.

“I’m deeply concerned that neither you, nor anyone in the government, nor the Integrated Security Unit itself, have ruled out the use of agent provocateurs at the upcoming G8 and G20 summits,” says Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow in a letter to Harper.

“Three undercover police officers attempted to incite violence in 2007 at the Montebello protest against the Security and Prosperity Partnership. The proof of their actions was caught on film,” Barlow wrote. “The Sûreté du Québec was forced to admit that they were police officers, dressed in black and holding rocks. Yet, to date no one has been held accountable and through his silence, Harper appears to have given tacit approval of the use of agents provocateurs.”

U.S. issues G20 travel alert for Toronto

Washington has issued a travel alert for Americans who live in Toronto or plan to visit the city during the G20 summit.

“Previous G20 summits have drawn large numbers of protesters and activists, and a number of groups have announced plans to demonstrate throughout downtown Toronto,” the U.S. State Department warned in its alert. “Even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can become violent and unpredictable. You should avoid them if at all possible.”

The alert also advises U.S. citizens forego travelling in or through downtown Toronto during the summit, anticipating “significant traffic disruption.”

The leaders of the world's G20 countries will descend on Toronto for the June 26-27 summit and security is tight.

Protests and rallies are expected to begin the week leading up to the summit.

On June 26, thousands are expected to turn out the People First! march, but organizers have vowed that the event will be a peaceful, family affair. However, protest organizers have confirmed that numerous activists and labour union members plan to splinter from the larger demonstration and continue a “militant” march to the security perimeter.

Washington says the travel alert expires June 28.

Canada is now on a rather exclusive list of travel alerts, which only includes six countries and regions. Among them is Jamaica, where the capital city has become the battlefield between government forces and gangs, who are protecting a fugitive drug lord from being extradited on U.S. drug- and arms-trafficking charges.

Also on the list is South Africa during the World Cup, where the State Department warns U.S. citizens could be exposed to terrorism, crime and public health risks.

Alerts are based on short-term conditions that could be dangerous to U.S. citizens, such natural disasters, election-related violence or high-profile events expected to draw massive crowds.

Surprise: More fences!

Russell - stones 1

Contractors set up security fencing around stones near Lake Shore Blvd. Photos: Steve Russell

It beats super-gluing every stone to the ground. Summit security are having fences erected around Lake Shore Blvd. to enclose the piles of landscaping stones so the rocks can't be picked up during protests and used as projectiles -- you know, like a sapling can be.

Russell - stones 2 


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