Caught with the G20 protesters as the cops close in
By Joanne Wong
“Trapped between a rock and a hard place, eh?”
So mused a fellow journalist.
I was backed up against the Novotel window, holding up my press pass in one hand, feeling the top of my noggin with the other, facing an unmoving and unsympathetic police line.
And here I was thinking that Saturday nights were supposed to be filled with frivolity and friends.
As an 18-year-old who lives with her loving parents and can’t
cover stories involving alcohol, June 26 was one of the most
of my life. (Granted, I don’t get out that much.)
I got caught up with the protesters when I was heading back to
Yonge on June 26 after yet another peaceful anti-G20 protest ended in
When I saw that the Eaton Centre went into a state of
emergency lockdown, I stepped back out onto Dundas, and saw them, clad
in black, rushing
up Yonge Street.
Then I heard windows being smashed, people hollering, and thought: this just got real. I followed the anarchists up Yonge (along with hundreds of onlookers and journalists), where they took bricks off the sidewalk plantations and threw them at store windows. Trying to snap some pictures, I closed in on the action.
A stray projectile hit my foot as a Good Samaritan pulled me back.
kind sir.) Hmm … where was the police?
After that, I stuck around as the protesters congregated near
Queen’s Park, where they were met with mounted officers, and others in
While I wait for something to happen during the standoff, I
some almonds I bought along the way, saying to myself, wait till my
hear about how cool my job is.
And man, my amateur photography has really gotten marginally better! I observed as the police and the protesters engaged in some mutual screaming and pushing, which eventually evolved into a cat-and-mouse game, whereby the protesters decided to continue their march along Bloor, then headed south on Yonge again.
Oh great, it started raining. Things came to a head on the Esplanade at around 10 p.m. as the crowd, now considerably smaller, sat in front of the Novotel, where the French G20 delegation was said to be staying.
At this point, I’ve been out for eight hours sans food, and the
glowing Old Spaghetti Factory neon sign looked as welcoming as ever.
Some French-speaking, suit-wearing individuals came outside to
the excitement was all about. And they all whipped out their cigarettes.
delegation was smoking, the protesters were smoking -- I tried to get away
from the carcinogens by maneuvering myself toward the building.
Then the police line closed in. People from the crowd were
grabbed, one-by-one, by police officers. “They’re going to arrest
everyone” seems to be the general consensus among those gathered.
Wait, what? But I’m with the media …
My colleague Jenny Yang called to give me the digits of editors
in case I got arrested. I wrote them on my arm.
“Are we really going to arrest everyone?” asked a
neighbouring officer to his comrade in (literal) arms.
As I held up my press pass toward the police, an officer grabbed said laminated piece of paper and called the office to confirm that I was indeed a reporter with the Toronto Star.
Thank you, Maddy in the radio room, for
guesstimating my height and hairstyle correctly.
“You’re a summer intern?” asked my interrogator. “It’s my third week there, yeah.” I replied.
At the end, I was told that I didn’t have the appropriate
clearance to be there, and they were kicking me out. I couldn’t get out fast enough.
When I got back to the haven that is One Yonge Street, the only thing anyone said was, “You didn’t get detained?”. Or “I thought you were in prison.” Thanks, guys.
Joanne Wong is indeed a summer intern at the Toronto Star. And yes, that was how her third week ended.