G20 Policing: State organized violence

G20 stands for Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors from 20 economies (G2012 Mexico 2012). In 1999, G20 was established to examine key issues in the global economy to bring together important industrialized and developing economies (G2012 Mexico 2012).G20 encourages open discussion on key issues related to global economic stability between industrial and emerging-market countries (G2012 Mexico 2012).

The G20 summit took place on 26-27 June, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (Contenta 2012). Some of the topics that were discussed at the G20 summit were evaluating the progress of financial reform, developing sustainable stimulus measures, debating global bank tax, and promoting open markets (Contenta 2012).

The facts have shown that the G20 Toronto Summit was the largest and most expensive security operation in the history of Canada whose cost was determined to be approximately $1 billion including the expenses for preparations, security, organization, and hospitality (Delacourt 2010). As the first day of the Summit was reaching closer, protestors were out on downtown streets to protest around issues such as poverty, capitalism and globalization, indigenous rights, gender and disability rights, and other controversial issues (Poisson 2010).

In order to protect leaders from protest, they had fenced the area with thousands of police officers in riot gears to send out the message to protesters and pedestrians to stay out from the zone.  (Esmonde 2010).  Although lots of protestors were arrested at the time of G20 no charges were laid against many of them. It suggested that this was a strategy by police to get protestors off the streets of downtown.  While protesting, 1100 people were arrested but only 315 were charged (Christoff 2011). This is also an example of state power, to how the police officers can overpower the public and arrests these protestors without any evidence of them being threatening to the general public. Majority of them were peaceful protesters but yet the arrests were in high numbers on the day of the G20.

In addition, there were constant announcements that those approaching the fence could be subject to arrest.  Although Queens Park downtown was designated to be a free speech zone, it gave the threatening impression that those protesting outside the confines of this area would be subject to arrest (Esmonde 2010).The state was able to repress the protesters by their resources they acquire such as “military-grade weaponry, tens-of-thousands of police and a three-layer security fence created the backdrop for systemic repression”(Christoff 2011:48).  Many protesters experiences were shaped by violent physical attacks, unnecessary detention, sexual harassment who dared to publicly question and actively protest the G20 (Esmonde 2010). “The arrests and the criminal charges laid during the G20 protests is precisely one of the functions of the criminal law to impose order, protect private property and maintain structures of power” (Christoff 2011:48) . This demonstrates that the state/police is willing to take any sort of actions, implement different strategies in order to silence voices of dissent. Those who want to bring changes in the structure of the state would be considered disruptive, and those who are disruptive are not following the rules and regulation of the state and therefore eventually would be criminalized.

References:

Christoff, Stefan. 2011. “Canada: Elections 2011 and criminalization of dissent.”Rabble.ca, April 4.Retrieved October 16, 2012 (http://rabble.ca/news/2011/04/canada-elections-2011-and-criminalization-dissent).

Contenta, Sandro. 2012. “Canada: Here comes the G20.” Global Post, June 16. Retrieved October 13, 2012 (http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/canada/100615/G20-toronto).

Delacourt, Susan. 2010. “G20 security tab: What else could $1B buy?” The star.com, May 28.Retrieved October 13, 2012 (http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/816123–what-can-1-billion-buy?bn=1).

Esmonde, Jackie. 2010. “The G20 Demonstrations and the Criminalization of Dissent. New Socialist, November 9. Retrieved October 16, 2012 (http://www.newsocialist.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=304:the-g20-demonstrations-and-the-criminalization-of-dissent&catid=51:analysis&Itemid=98).

G2012 Mexico 2012. “ What is the G20.” Mexico: Gobierno Federal. Retrieved October 13, 2012 (http://www.g20.org/index.php/en/g20).

Poisson, Jayme. 2010. “G20 protesters try to take over downtown property.” The Star.com, June 21. Retrieved October 13, 2012 (http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontog20summit/article/826478–g20-protesters-try-to-take-over-downtown-property?bn=1).

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