Today Arnie and I went down to a small pro-Israel rally at Queen’s Park.
On the way there, we passed the corner of Bloor and St. Thomas (across from the Cole Haan), where a small group of protesters had apparently just been arrested.
There were about six to eight individuals seated with their backs against a store wall, wearing white plastic handcuffs. They were outnumbered about 5 to 1 by Toronto police officers (and, I’m guessing, some from Barrie, due to the presence of a large Barrie police vehicle on St Thomas.)
Arnie and I stood across the road on the Cole Haan side. Like about a dozen other passersby, we were filming the procedings, such as they were.
We were both dressed like typical middle aged Torontonians out on a Sunday afternoon: I’d advised Arnie not to wear any black, so we had on sunglasses, shorts, no weird or provocative t-shirts.
We were standing there silently when a white, male officer who looked a little like a central casting Angry Cop, with a really fake smile and firey eyes crossed the street towards us.
He stood chest to chest with Arnie and told him to move along.
Alas, Arnie stopped filming and didn’t hit the audio record button again until the end of our exchange. Here is how it went, from memory.
Cop 3478: Sir, I’m going to ask you to move along. There’s really nothing to see here.
Arnie: We’re just standing on a public sidewalk. What are we doing wrong?
Cop 3478: Just be on your way, sir. Please.
Cop 3478: Because I’m asking you to.
Arnie: I don’t see why I should have to move.
Cop 3478: Now you’re gonna tell me all about your rights! You people know all about your rights! But you have NO responsibilities, do you?!
Me: Well, I pay for this sidewalk, and I pay your salary.
As you can hear from the audio below, Cop 3478 finds that concept particularly hilarious. He walked away from us, laughing somewhat hysterically.
He also resents having to give me his badge number, which he is obliged to do.
We exchanged a few more words (below), and Arnie and I remained in place while he retreated. After about another five minutes, we left.
So for some reason, Toronto is so “under seige” that dozens of cops had to stand around chatting, fifteen minutes after arresting a bunch of people who were now handcuffed and sitting quietly.
And they somehow found time to order two law abiding citizens to turn off a video camera in a public place.
UPDATE: Ghost of a Flea comments…
So does Jay Currie.
UPDATE: Michael Coren writes:
The reports from Sunday indicate that after doing nowhere near enough to deal with political thugs and their enablers on Saturday, the police are now acting with too much violence and towards innocent people. Frankly I don’t care at all if a few middle-class morons dressed in black who want to smash things and people get hit over the head by a cop or two. But it’s essential that peaceful protestors, passers-by and journalists are not treated like this.
From what I’m hearing from friends on the scene – read the great Steve Paikin about this – the police have gone into panic mode. There are thousands of them there and they have enough time and resources to do this job properly. But these are the same cops who obsess about small issues, arrest storekeepers protecting their own property, try to arrest soccer fans who are loud rather than violent and generally haven’t grown with the city and changed accordingly.
UPDATE: Ed Driscoll…
Fortunately, the Toronto police, in between standing by helplessly armed while their police cars go up in flames, are doing the dirty, difficult task of preventing onlookers from videotaping the destruction. (…)
Kate McMillan adds, “Any city that stands aside to photograph itself burning — deserves to.” But civilian photographers will be rebuffed with a force in equal contradistinction to that not being applied to the rioters themselves.