Canadian police hope rain puts damper on protests at world economic summits

By Rob Gillies, AP
Saturday, June 26, 2010

Police hope rain puts damper on summit protests

TORONTO — Police hoped a steady rain Saturday would put a damper on anti-globalization protests at the world summits, but were bracing for possible violence by splinter groups.

Previous summit gatherings have attracted massive protests by anti-globalization forces. But so far the Canadian protests have been smaller. The largest demonstration, a march in downtown Toronto sponsored by labor unions, was scheduled for Saturday.

Police said before the Saturday march that 32 summit-related arrests had been made with security being provided by an estimated 19,000 law enforcement officers drawn from all regions of Canada. The security costs are estimated at more than US$900 million.

Toronto Police Sgt. Tim Burrows said authorities are quite pleased that the protests are tame compared to what they’ve seen at previous summits. Hundreds of protesters moved through Toronto’s streets Friday, but police in riot gear blocked them from getting near the summit security zone downtown.

Burrows said police will be watching splinter groups within the protest who he said have promised violence. Police will try again to prevent protesters from getting close to the security fence around the site of the G-20 summit in downtown Toronto.

“From what we’ve seen in previous summits we’re quite happy with what our protesters are bringing to the table with the exception of a few,” Burrows said.

“They’ve protested peacefully. There have been a few people that have decided that they wanted to step out of line and test our response and they found themselves where they should be.”

Ontario’s provincial government quietly passed a regulation earlier this month allowing police to arrest anyone who refuses to show identification or submit to searches if they come within five meters (five yards) of the fence.

Toronto’s downtown core resembles a fortress, with a big steel and concrete fence erected along several blocks to protect the summit site.

Organizers of Saturday’s demonstration are hoping to draw a crowd of 10,000. One officer said police are hoping for lots of rain to help contain the protests.

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