As I write this, I can hear the helicopters circling in the sky. In the distance, you can make out the sound of sirens. And at one point, I could hear the chanting.
The last few days it hasn’t felt like the Toronto I know and love, where I’ve made my home. The security fence went up, and the city I know disappeared.
I may live in Toronto, but for this weekend, I feel like I’m visiting somewhere else. The amount of police is jarring and almost scary. Being stopped for motorcades has become the norm. Stores in my neighbourhood have closed for the weekend, even boarding up their windows in the hopes that their businesses will still be standing upon their return Monday morning.
I understand why we have the increased police presence. I understand the reason for the fence, for the hundreds — maybe thousands of police officers from other jurisdictions. I understand why stores have shut their business this weekend, why we are getting road and transit closures with no notice. But it doesn’t make any of it any easier to swallow.
I don’t side with the protesters, but I don’t side with the cops either. A big part of me thinks if the protesters didn’t protest, then we wouldn’t have needed the fence, the police, what everyone seems to be so up in arms about. The protesters claim police brutality, while the police claim they are just doing their jobs. Who to believe?
I was supposed to be at the Rogers Centre Friday night, welcoming back Roy Halladay. Instead, he and the Phillies demolished the Blue Jays in Philadelphia as I watched on television. I wanted to go watch the World Cup at a great bar this morning for the experience. Instead, we watched it in our home. I wanted to enjoy my long weekend, instead I’m stuck watching riot coverage on television.
I wonder what the fallout will be after all of this. Will I ever go back to loving the Toronto I knew before this weekend? Or will the reports to come forever taint how I feel about my city, my politicians, my fellow Torontonians?
Footnote: Just as I finished writing this post, the protesters have begun to destroy property. Thus far, a cop car has been destroyed, the Starbucks at Queen and John was destroyed (and none of the patrons were allowed to leave before the protesters broke windows), banks, media vans, and so much more. This is ridiculous and I am a little scared.