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A Weekend of Protest

 by David Schimke

Tags: Politics, protest, World Social Forum, activism, activists, G8 summit, G20 summit, global economic recovery, This Magazine,

The good vibrations rocking the World Social Forum, which has already brought over 10,000 spirited activists to Detroit, will no doubt be trumped by expected protests this weekend in and around Toronto at the G8 and G20 summits, host to the world’s financial power brokers—including U.S. President Barack Obama, who penned a letter last week urging member countries not to weaken global economic recovery by focusing too much on debt reduction.

While it’s a good guess the politicians will be droning on about interest rates and trade agreements, various activist groups—working on a wide-range of issues, such as AIDS reduction, child labor, and maternal health—will aim to provide reporters with something a bit more colorful. In anticipation of criminally riotous behavior, in fact, more than 5,000 cops and security personnel are on hand in Ontario. And yesterday morning, some of them got a little action when a Toronto man was found to be in possession of explosives and suspected of planning a summit-related spectacle.

It’s a good guess the alleged perpetrator, reportedly a licensed private investigator named Byron Sonne, was too busy stockpiling common household chemicals to read the May-June issue of This Magazine. In a short “how to” section titled, “Civil Disobedience isn’t for Dummies,” the Toronto-based bi-monthly doled out advice on how to survive a G8/G20 protest in “style (and safety).” Getting arrested before the summit starts was not on the list.

Among other things, activists are encouraged to travel with people they trust; educate themselves on the history of civil-disobedience, as well as current tactics employed by various groups; and decide beforehand what tactics fit your personal convictions. (Y’know, like, are you happiest while singing “We Shall Overcome” or when tossing Molotov Cocktails.)

As for wardrobe:

Pack protective shoes you can run in; heavy-duty gloves; shatter-resistant eye protection; clothing that covers most of your skin; a gas mask or goggles with a vinegar-soaked bandana for protection from chemicals; and noisemakers. Optional: rollerblades and a hockey stick to shoot back tear gas canisters—Canadian-style.

Yeah, that’s right you politically correct American progressives, in Canada sports fanaticism knows no boundaries.

Check out Utne Reader’s current cover story, “The New Face of Activism.”

Source: This Magazine