Toronto cleaning up from G20 vandalism
Published Monday, June 28, 2010 9:32PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 2:04AM EDT
The security fence is starting to come down and life is returning to normal in downtown Toronto following the G20 summit, but the cleanup from the demonstrations is just beginning.
Some businesses spent Monday taking down the plywood protecting their stores, while others were dealing with broken storefronts, looting and graffiti.
Downtown business owners described the feeling of being "under siege" over the weekend and some said they felt police neglected them.
"It was horrendous," Frank Goodman of Aden Camera told CTV Toronto of watching black-clad youth run up Yonge Street smashing everything in sight.
"No one was protecting the citizen(s) when this was going on."
Goodman had boarded up his store in advance of the G20, fearing riots.
Others recounted being caught in the crossfire.
A tourist to Toronto said she walked into the path of the "Block Bloc" anarchists as they were marching up Yonge.
"It felt like I was in a war zone, I never witnessed anything like that in my life," the woman told CTV Toronto.
The weekend protests saw police cars set on fire and countless store-front windows smashed. In all, more than 900 arrests were made during the summit. And police warned there could still be more to come.
Toronto police say they're still looking for a few more organizers of the anarchist groups blamed for most of the destruction.
Most of those arrested were let go without charge. Others were released on condition they appear at set court dates. Still others were kept in custody and were to be in court today to face charges of assault, breach of peace, inciting a riot, and other crimes.
In an interview with CTV's Canada AM Monday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper denounced the violence that he called "pretty disturbing and pretty deplorable."
"That said, these leaders, we attend summits all the time and we know the unfortunate reality is that these summits attract a certain thuggish criminal element. And that's just the reality," he said.
"Unfortunately, when you have peaceful protests, there are some who use it for other purposes… So leaders understand, we've seen it in other cities, we're going to see it again in the future."
Harper has said that the protests and the ensuing police crackdown explain why the security bill at these summits reached more than $1 billion.
Provincial politicians are calling on the federal government to compensate business owners who suffered financially due to the summits and protests.
"It's time for Mr. Harper to take responsibility for the boondoggle and pick up some of the tab of people who suffered losses," said NDP MPP Peter Kormos.
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak called on the government to make those who caused the damage "financially responsible."
Mayor saddened by vandalism
Toronto Mayor David Miller says he and his office have long said that the downtown convention centre was not the appropriate place to host such a large event.
"From the beginning, the city said to the federal government, ‘You shouldn't host an event like this downtown because of the complexities of policing it. You should host it at a place like Exhibition Place; it's a place that's self-contained.' I think unfortunately some of the challenges we saw this weekend came from that decision," Miller told Canada AM Monday.
He said he hopes local businesses will take advantage of the compensation the federal government has promised to businesses that lost revenue from having to board up their storefronts.
He noted that police had a nearly impossible job in trying to thwart highly organized protesters who were bent on destruction.
"They're criminals -- they're not protesters, they're not anarchists -- they are criminals that came to Toronto, hid in crowds of legitimate demonstrators and deliberately committed violent acts," he said referring to protesters using Black Bloc tactics.
"I think compared to similar events around the world, our police did a remarkably good job and people should be starting from that perspective."