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My Experience Inside the G20 Detention Facility

Inside Torontanamo

by MATT SHULTZ

Well, it’s been an interesting weekend, for everyone I expect but for me it has been, well, cataclysmic … almost literally, given the torrential rain (look up the Greek etymology of cataclysm.) As I write this the protests continue but for me they are done: an embarrassingly stillborn and somewhat childish prank has me facing weapons charges with a potential six month jail term, and banned from any future protests due to the bail conditions that I agreed to in order to get released, despite the obvious charter violations represented in an order to avoid any public demonstration.

I’m sure you all saw the endlessly repeated footage of burning patrol cars and the debris of broken windows along Queen St left by the rampaging Black Bloc on Saturday night. Although I was in the city, I, like most of you, saw this only in snippets on the evening news: although I participated on the main march Saturday afternoon, and spent some time addressing Toronto’s finest on a megaphone, in the evening I decided to go and see Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. With all the damage you’d think there must have been a large, uncontrollable mob raging through Toronto’s streets but if you do the math on 15,000 cops and other assorted security personnel versus the maybe 30 or so black bloc I saw advancing through the march on their way to initiate havoc, well, it starts to look like maybe the cops were letting it happen.

In fact some eyewitnesses reported that they saw large groups of cops standing by while the black bloc did their thing. Eyewitnesses at the scene of two of the burning police cars insist that officers of the so-called peace drove them up, jumped out, and walked away leaving the cars next to the protesters following which, the cars exploded. Talking to the media outside, after my release, my understanding was that this use of ‘decoys’ had since been confirmed by the police.

In protest after protest, at summit after summit, in city after city all around Canada, in the United States and in many other countries as well we hear afterwards that undercover police officers infiltrated the Black Bloc with the express purpose of provoking violent retaliation against the peaceful protesters by the massed ranks of law enforcement. The tactic in this case has expanded to the more or less open detonation of incendiary devices in public space, with the obvious intent of framing a movement composed of pacificistic vegan hippies as deranged, violent lunatics looking only for an excuse to pillage and destroy.

As a general tactic, this is what is known as a false flag attack. It has been widely used by militaries and security apparatuses throughout recorded history: when a pretext for war is needed, you dress up some of your guys as the enemy, have them attack you in some symbolic, futile fashion and then pounce. It is done far more often than many people appreciate and, at trade summits such as these – where the highest minions of the world-gobbling greed goblins who are behind most of the effed up shit dominating our increasingly alarming headlines are gathered – it has become almost de rigeur.

The results the next day were perfectly obvious: the police took their own undercover actions as justification to expand the security perimeter from five meters around the fence to more or less the entire city, without of course informing anyone of this de facto imposition of martial law, and began taking down anyone caught wearing black (could be black bloc), with funny hair (hippy), youthful (duh) or, I’m sure, just a certain look in their eyes (oooo, that one’s awake. Gettim!) They were stopping and searching people at whim and booking them for anything that could be interpreted in any way as an offense.

Of course I should have expected that. I mean, I fully expected that there would be a false flag but the oiled precision with which it was enacted was simply breathtaking and caught me off-guard. At any rate, wooly-headed fool that I am, I had hatched a scheme to launch my own spontaneous, collaborative performance art resistance act against the triple-time-and-a-half-collecting armored mercenaries who were beating people senseless in the name of protecting the delicate ears of the walking moral atrocities meeting in our nation’s greatest city from the verbal outrage of the people who actually care about the world they’re destroying.

The idea was simple: I was to distribute a number of pre-packaged paint water balloons, in one of five attractive primary and day-glo colors, to whoever happened to be standing around, with the instructions that if we were to get tear-gassed, rushed, LRADed, what have you, to throw their paint balloons in the general direction of the riot police and then run like hell. I even planned to give the police fair warning: to shout through a megaphone that the following (unlike their tear gas) was non-toxic, water-soluble, and would come out in the rain. Having tested the paint balloons on myself with the help of a willing friend, I knew their impact to be distinctly noticeable but not in any way injurious … especially to men and women wearing the heavy protective exoskeletons of riot cops, to whom I expect the experience would be akin to getting swatted by a declawed kitten … especially if I even gave them warning, so they could pause and raise their shields against the downpour. It would give the protesters a few extra seconds of lead time to escape, and it would give the cops nothing more than some embarrassing stains on whatever fabric didn’t get immediately washed out in the rain that would almost certainly have been falling.

A foolish prank, I’ll grant you. The logical question of course would be, why would I want to do something so rash? Of course I knew I was risking criminal charges if caught, which could prevent me from leaving the country, which could prevent me from attending conferences crucial to success in my chosen field of stellar astrophysics. In addition, I have a completely clear record, now endangered. I am a police officer’s son; and not just any police officer, but a man who was dearly loved and respected by all who came in contact with him, not just his colleagues but even the criminals, for his compassionate, merciful manner when on the job. My brother is a serving police officer. I’m from a respectable, middle-class (whatever that even means anymore) background; not only do I have a clean record, everyone in my family does. What was I thinking?

I was thinking, quite simply, that some answer had to be given to the rampant police brutality that was to be expected in riots the police would undoubtedly be provoking themselves. Where I went wrong was in thinking that they would only do this for individual riots, by having a few ‘Black Bloc’ undercover types throw a brick at an opportune moment; I had not expected that they would set up conditions to, in effect, declare the entire city a riot zone and then set about viciously attacking whoever happened to be nearby and vaguely hippy-ish. The elderly, children, even the disabled were attacked – note I say attacked, not ‘arrested’ or ‘apprehended’ or some other such euphamism – being ridden down by riot cavalry and clubbed and kicked into the mud by the legions of armoured storm troopers. See a link recently posted on my wall for more details on such events.

I did not expect such ferocity in the streets of a Canadian city.

And so, thinking the event I was going to would be relatively civilized (and it was, in a sense, if you can call the eerily efficient and meticulous fascism of the modern police state ‘civilized’), but knowing that there would be police provoked riots and such, I determined my harebrained scheme as one of the most merciful methods of launching reprisal against deliberate brutality, for to spatter them with some paint would make them look silly, maybe stain a few uniforms, and give everyone a chance to escape (which in truth, isn’t that hard with riot cops: it’s not like they’re wearing powered armor, and those suits are heavy and I’m guessing, don’t breathe too well.) Were I intending to cause harm, I would have brought molotov cocktails, or pipe bombs, or some other type of explosive device … that these weren’t really much in evidence anywhere shows that almost no one, including myself, went to the protest in a mindset of war. No one but the government, that is. And so, despite the total absence of any meaningful threat to anyone, I am up on possession of ‘weapons, dangerous’ charges for something that should be misdemeanor intent to deface public property, at most. One of the cops at the arrest pointed out to me that perhaps an officer, visor temporarily covered in paint, might get assaulted and injured by another rioter, which is only superficially plausible if you forget the part about it being suicide for any lone protester to run up to a line of cops six or seven deep (you only ever saw them in such numbers.) Just because one guy is wiping thin diluted paint off his visor would not mean his buddy wouldn’t break your face for trying to get close.

Of course, I could have just carried a sign, but … that would have been ignored, wouldn’t it? Did you, the TV watching public, see many signs? In the sense of actually reading them? In the background perhaps, in snatches as some bystander or protester was being interviewed about police brutality or (more likely) Black Bloc mayhem, and then cut to broken windows, cut to burning patrol car, Peter Mansbridge voiceover, "It’s really a shame about the violence, it detracts attention from the issues. Hey, speaking of issues, they’re being ignored in the midst of all the violence! Hey look, a burning cop car again! Oh, the humanity."

But you might have noticed colorful cops. And that alone would have sent a message: that even as the global financial ownership class and their tiers of minions continue to beat us into the ground, to rip away at our rights and our freedoms, to destroy the real economy as they suck it dry to build their walled gardens guarded by a scientific tyranny, to chew up what’s left of the natural world and cover it over in concrete and convert it to money, as they seek to entrap us and our children’s grandchildren’s distant descedants in the same debt peonage in which they’ve enslaved you, me, us and by ‘us’ I mean the whole world, that even as all of this gallops ahead everywhere around the planet we will not cooperate … but nor will we fight them, directly … instead we will color their grey, dead world and where they mass a thousand uniformed men to bring violence and destruction we will muster ten creative, alive individuals and bring it back to life again, because while they must work like dogs to enforce their ‘order’ we must merely remember how to play to bring ourselves, and the world we co-create anew in every moment of our existence, back to a life worth living, a life lived in service of life rather than in fear of it.

Well, I’m a bit of a naive idealist perhaps, despite all the cynical conspiracy theories, and what can I say? Sunday afternoon around 2:00, with a bag full of prepared paint bags ("just add water!"), there I was crossing Bay St. in the Queens Park area, the so-called ‘Free Speech Zone’, later to be the subject of some of the worst of the police brutality (they beat the ‘Free Hugs’ guy to the ground, apparently for no reason at all. Obviously the notion of a man standing in a park hugging whoever comes by and consents constitutes a serious danger to the public order. I was beside myself when I read of this. I gave him a big hug back for the important work he was doing. He was a nice guy.) Standing on the traffic island were a few bicycle cops, and as we approached them I got a sinking feeling, a premonition arising perhaps from the hungry look in the cop’s eyes as he scanned us and declared, "We’re searching your bags."

Not ‘May I?’ This was an order, given to a slave by the master, or perhaps more appropriately by the school bully to the playground peon, and being massively outnumbered I knew there was no point in resisting (perhaps I could have talked them away with a megaphone, but I’m no Charlie Veitch and … hindsight, 20/20.)

"And my rights, officer?" I asked pointedly.

"Don’t you worry about your ‘rights’," he snickered. Then commenced a full search of everything, both bags, pockets (not a pat-down, understand, but physically sticking their greasy fingers into my pockets, ALL of them, as they searched in vain for anything dangerous on my person.) I had a gas mask of course, which they confiscated and will no doubt be presenting as one of the exhibits at the hearing (imagine that! Taking measures to defend oneself against a gas attack! How criminal.) Also confiscated, why I have no reason, was a hachi-maki or Japanese headband I’d brought back from the Land of the Rising Sun and wrapped around the hat I was wearing, for decoration, and a black t-shirt the Public Service Alliance of Canada (whose free bus I’d availed myself of to make it to the event) had handed out to me, which I’d had in my bag as it was my only dry t-shirt and I wanted to have a change available for comfort’s sake, following the likely soaking. Apparently, being black, this is evidence that I am in the Black Bloc, and thus a Dangerous Anarchist.

Of course I was cuffed on the spot, whereupon I insisted that my friends had no part in this misadventure, which was true (they both, younger but wiser than I, thought it a Bad Idea) and the cops seemed to have believed them as they do not appear to have been detained.

I, of course, was not so lucky. Within minutes I was whisked away in a minivan, transferred to a paddy-wagon, eventually transferred to another paddy-wagon, driven around in circles while a couple of others were picked up, and finally, an hour or more later (they took my watch away, for reasons obscure, along with my shoes … this they did to everyone) deposited in the nightmarish hellhole that was (is?) the G20 detention center.

The cases of those others were quite interesting. Both were bystanders who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. The first I became aware of initially in the following conversation:

"Any injuries I should know about?"

"Yeah, I’ve got really bad nerve damage in one elbow."

"Oh yeah?"

"Ow!"

-thud-

-slam-

This man, ‘Bob’ we’ll call him, worked as a security guard and had no interest in protesting. Unfortunately he made the mistake of wearing black in the presence of police officers, and had the collosal foolishness to be carrying a ‘weapons, dangerous’ multitool in his pocket. As of my release, he was still in there, awaiting or perhaps being processed. His girlfriend was waiting outside for him, desperate for any news and thrilled I could provide it. Her devoted vigil was really touching, as was the presence of the small number of activists camped out with coffee, tea, and most importantly, water, which we’d been systematically deprived of on the inside.

And as for the inside, it was every bit the dehumanizing hellhole it was described to be.

More to follow in Part 2….

Part 2:

They took my shoes and watch away almost as soon as I was apprehended. The excuse for the shoes given by the fat mustached officer who was gripping my arm like a vice was, first, that they wanted to make sure they had my exact height (they never measured this with any sort of precision) and then, as I didn’t buy this, that I might hang myself with the laces, and while I’ll admit that I had a ‘my life is over’ moment of despair while locked in the back of the paddy-wagon, it lasted about five minutes and then I got over it. Life is never over until you’re dead and even then, well, who knows, right? As for the watch, there was no excuse (in any sense), but they took everyone’s (almost everyone: one of the Montrealers in the pen had a small watch that looked like a bracelet, which got overlooked and so, we were able to keep track of how long we’d been in there. Good people, those Montreal activists.) My bet is that the removal of watches was precisely so that we would lose all track of time, which has the effect of screwing with your head, and why wouldn’t that be desirable?

I was in the back of the paddy-wagon for what I think was about an hour or so, while the paperwork was filled out, and eventually I was driven around for a bit, while the other arrestees were picked up. Eventually the doors opened and we were hauled out, one by one into what at first I thought was a cavernous warehouse (and later learned was, of all things, a film studio), along one side of which were a series of pens, like animal cages, immediately reminiscent of the facilities at Guantanamo Bay. Each was maybe large enough for ten people, though they packed in twenty. They were numbered, S1 through S6 or S8 so; I was thankful there was no ‘S21′ (which if you know anything about Cambodian history, you’ll know the chilling why of that.) As we were taken out our handcuffs were removed and then, to my surprise and immense annoyance, zipstraps wrapped around our wrists in their place. We were then marched over to one of the cells and thrown inside, still zipstrapped. Why restrain someone when they’re in a cage anyways? Are they afraid we’ll turn on one another and start ripping at our comrades with our bare hands? Not likely, so my guess was, this was just a subtle but deliberate torture, another one of the little psychological games that typified this dehumanizing skinner box of a dog kennel.

Over the course of the night some of us managed to free ourselves, one way or another. It became obvious that the guards didn’t care, which of course only strengthens my hypothesis that there was no security reason for the cuffs, but rather, it was pure sadism.

You know, I just called Torontanamo a dog kennel but that’s not really fair. Even a dog gets a blanket to sleep on. The protesters brought in at night, soaking wet due to the weather, had to sleep, shivering, on a bare concrete floor as the temperature in the building dropped to maybe a few degrees Centigrade. Can you say pneumonia? While being moved around, I caught a glimpse of what looked like maybe 17 or 18 year old girls, huddled together in a quivering mass like sheep in a snowstorm, as one friend, having seen the same thing, described it. I very much doubt that they had been apprehended for any meaningful ‘crime’ but it simply doesn’t matter. 1.3 billion dollars in security and no one thought to get a supply of blankets, just in case it rained?

Well, maybe they just didn’t have the budget. All that sweet sweet overtime, not to mention what the private security guys must have been getting paid, sure does add up.

I was lucky, I suppose, in that I was dry when I came in, however I was wearing a very thin t-shirt (my Holy Fuck shirt, a band that I absolutely insist you check out if you ever get the chance, and which every cop who got the chance commented on and I didn’t begrudge them that and told them the same thing: that t-shirt gets comments everywhere, a brilliant marketing device and as they are a brilliant band I have no problem helping them along) and spent at least a couple of hours huddled on the single bench (one small bench, for 20 guys) with my arms in my shirt, or on the floor, curled one way until it got too cold, then the other, then on my back.

Despite the fact that we were being monitored on CCTV (and almost certainly bugged), the single porta-potty with which the cage was equipped had no door, I guess so the guards could ensure their zip-strapped prisoners weren’t trying to drown themselves in blue goo. No one much wanted to take a shit under these conditions, as you can imagine, and truth be told we didn’t need to pee much either, because the city water supply was apparently sufficient only for a single, small styrofoam cup once every five hours or so. I don’t mean to imply that the guards were lazy, nor that this was another deliberate torture. Perhaps the government spent so much on overtime, banners, and artificial lakes (next to a giant sea of a lake) that they didn’t have enough left over to pay the water bill at the film studio, and the utility cut them off. I’m not sure this is the case, however, for they seem to have had enough money left over for Tang (which dehydrates you.)

Food, of course, was non-existent. Now no doubt the authorities will contest me on this one, and insist that, yes, they fed us, and while this might technically be true what they offered was not in any way ‘food': wunderbread, with some kind of crusty processed cheese in the middle and something that I could well believe wasn’t butter. I choked down one (having eaten only an avocado sandwich that day, at a vegan restaurant my vegan friend insisted we go to for breakfast … at the time, I’d made various cracks of the flavor, ‘this isn’t really food’, and as I tried to swallow the foul thing with minimal chewing so as to minimize its impact on my tastebuds I wished with all my might for something as delicious as that grilled avocado, alfalfa, sun-dried tomato and tahini sandwich. Oh yes, and if you want to know why I was protesting and the answer ‘everything’ doesn’t quite satisfy, let’s go with alfalfa, a delightful vegetable that I just rediscovered a few weeks ago when it appeared in my seasonal vegetable basket from the local CSA, and then found out Monsanto had recently got the green light to start distributing GM alfalfa seeds. Soon they will all be contaminated – given cross-polination – and so, another food plant will become genetically toxic, as an entire generation has found to its intense gastrointestinal discomfort, with their diet of BT or RoundupReady soy, corn, and canola being the almost certain culprit for the rash of digestive disorders. I have my suspicions about the genetically modified clothing we’re wearing, too, and its effects on our skin, however evidence for this is hard to come by as studies do not, to my knowledge, exist.) I decided to just not eat anything else until getting out. Hunger seemed preferrable.

Of course, while we were dehydrating and feasting on fake cheese, the guards were walking about, nibbling suggestively on chocolate-covered strawberries and plums, and drinking bottled water. Gots ta keep ya strength up, ya know?

Number of prisoners processed: 1000. Cost of a bottle of water: a dollar or probably less, bought in bulk.

One. Point. Three. Billion! Dollars.

I am not trying to say that I am surprised at this treatment. What I am attempting to drive home for you is that every single one of the hardships we endured was purely for the sake of inflicting hardships, and why? Virtually none of the people detained were there for anything remotely serious (I am, but that’s another story and you’ve already heard it) so one can only conclude that the intent was to make the experience so traumatizing that no one involved would ever want to protest again, and the rest would be scared off. Can’t have dissent in the streets and now why would that be? What with more and bigger war on the horizon and all. Sure, cops do this all the time to perps and we all turn a blind eye or sort of figure they deserve that initial bit of rough justice but seriously, for protesting? For non-violent protesting? For peaceably assembling and addressing the great issues of our time with the only voice we have, our own?

To do so in Harper’s Canada is, apparently, not kosher.

There was, of course, no medical attention available. This despite many of the protesters, and of course those who weren’t protesters, coming in with fractures, open wounds in need of stitches, and bloody ears. One kid – the second of my paddy-wagon pals – suffered from schizophrenia and as the night went on and the guards refused to retrieve his meds he started babbling like the proverbial mad-man (not that I’m one to judge). Many of them had been jumped and beaten for no reason at all, save that they were there and the riot apes had carte blanche to do as they pleased. To make matters even more insulting there were numerous stories of paramedics departing the scene with empty ambulances and no siren, just as the cops were moving in to stomp some hippy head. Yeah, you know, those vicious, unarmed, won’t-eat-something-if-it-casts-a-shadow activists.

There were two detainees in wheel-chairs. What possible threat they might have been to anyone I don’t know. One of them, who was missing a leg, was wheeled out shortly … his wife was a high muckety-muck in something or other and when she found out she flipped her lid, called a press conference and the cops quietly released him. One rule for the rich….

The other disabled detainee was a scruffy, bearded native. He, they kept. Another rule for the poor….

I have no more to say on either because of the sheet metal put in place between the cells. Under the circumstances it is simply not credible that this had anything to do with privacy; much more likely, the intent was to impede communication between incarcerated activists, and so to further control the release of information to the outside world. In other words, another head game.

You might almost look at the entire weekend as one big, carefully contrived head game: the controlled burns of the so-called riots, the deception regarding the nature of the 1939 (!!!) public works law, everything about this entire weekend stinks of a gigantic setup. The government laid a trap for activists and like fools, we walked straight into it. I walked straight into it. I can see my father now, spinning apoplectically in his grave with rage at his son’s multiple levels of stupidity, and the mantra "How can someone so smart be so stupid?" keeps running through my mind (my dad only ever mentioned my intellect around me when I did something really dumb. It was his way.)

I like to think, though, that when he calms down a bit what he’ll get really outraged over is the context of what happened in Toronto, this deranged and brutal clusterfuck of an intelligence operation hanging out in plain sight.

This isn’t to say that we had no way of maintaining contact with one another. We could shout to one another, and pass some information along. Periodically a chant would break out, and catcalls and sarcastic verbal jabs were common. From one point of view this is sheer petulance, but the only weapon activists really have is their voice (a knot of urban guerillas dressed up in ninja costumes and throwing property damage temper tantrums, seemlessly infiltrated at all times by undercover cops who are secretly leading the action, notwithstanding) and by God have we been honing it. It maintained morale to some degree and the guards generally avoided any eye-contact with us during these periods, being, I expect somewhat ashamed as we all asked where our phone calls were or when we’d get medical attention and a chant broke out. I myself started one, "Class action lawsuit", sang to the tune of nyaa nyaa nyaa nyaa nyaaaa nyaa. Childish? Definitely. True? You betcha.

A running issue was that we were being systematically denied access to the phone calls we were legally obliged to receive. I myself had to wait until around 5 in the morning to get my phone call (when I pointed this out to the sergeant, I got snapped at for being sarcastic.) Again, I was, in this, one of the lucky ones. In the cage next to mine were two girls who had been in there for thirty hours when I arrived, and had yet to be processed or receive their phone calls. There is absolutely no excuse for that, whatever the charge. In addition to this, legal aid was being given the runaround (a situation that continued into the next day and likely continues still), and activist lawyers were being preemptively arrested on who knows or (frankly) cares what charges.

To put matters bluntly, a man might have raped a baby in front of city hall and then eaten it raw and received more respectful treatment than that with which we were handled.

The men who were in there with me were no more criminals than I. I’d like to say a few words about what sort of people they were, however, for although I haven’t discussed them much in specifics (a deliberate choice) they were a fantastic group of people. You know what it was distinguished the activists from the bystanders? It was the eyes. The bystanders were just scared, and uncomprehending, with notable exceptions. The activists weren’t scared at all. In their eyes you could see an alertness, an aliveness, a litheness to their movements that is rare to see these days. You could tell these guys were on a spiritual path, that they had gotten back in touch with their bodies and their hearts and wrested back control of their own minds. To a man they were open, kind, creative, accomplished and intelligent. A man could not ask for better companions.

Eventually, they called my name, double-checked the number round my wrist, cuffed me (while leaving the restraints in place) and marched me in for processing. The sergeant threw the book at me, of course, as he was no doubt chucking it at everyone on whom they had anything at all they thought might stick, following which I was given a ‘Level 3′ search (basically, undress and expose myself to two inquisitive constables), and then taken to wait in line for what was referred to, cryptically, as Zone 4. There, a whole network of the cages had been set up, row after row of them, wherein many of the prisoners were lying huddled in orange jumpsuits. It was only now, waiting in line, that the court officer holding my arm bothered to cut the pointless and chafing zipstraps off. Perhaps it was this small act of mercy that prompted me to ask him if Zone 4 reminded him of Guantanamo Bay and he had to think about it before replying, no. Looking in his eyes I think I could see that it did, and he just didn’t want to be overheard agreeing with me in public. He was, I believe, every bit as creeped out as I was by what was unfolding before us.

Let me be very clear on this: the point of this exercise was two-fold, first, to traumatize the activists (check), second, to normalize this kind of thing with the cops. And let me also be clear: check. Many, even most of the cops seemed totally fine with it. The casual, collaborative, efficient and impersonal sadism of it was really appealing to some of them and everyone in this country wants to ask themselves if Torontanamo is something they’d like to see more of in Canada because make no mistake, it’s in the planning stages.

This government has proved to the populace that it will act in whatever lying, underhanded, deceptive manner it takes to get its way with the people. It will prorogue Parliament if it thinks it will lose a non-confidence vote or if it doesn’t want to answer some nasty questions on torture. It will call for fixed elections and then call them on a whim, anyways. Every time they pull something like this, the other parties – who, lets face it, are mostly controlled representatives of the people who are really running the Conservatives anyways – will trot around in public saying, here here, we won’t stand for this sort of thing! And a week or two passes and they decide, well, OK, maybe we WILL stand for it after all and just hope the government doesn’t do something like that again, and then things sort of tick along and then the government does something awful and deceptive again which is generally something worse and more odious than anything they’d previously done and this time they’ve attacked people for singing the national anthem, which is kind of like a declaration of war on the country, and lied continuously in order to have the excuse to do that sort of thing. The Harper regime just mangled the downtown core of the greatest city in the country and for what? So some evil creeps from around the world could get together and inaugerate the next stages of their warped plan to herd the globe into a massive and traumatizing war while using it as an excuse, and a means, of grabbing all the wealth of it into as few hands as possible? (and no, not the hands of the politicians or other delegates: they are minions, and are in it for relative crumbs.) Does anyone here think this is a good idea? That we are bettering the species? That any good at all can possibly come of this for you, your family, your children? Why are we letting them do this? What’s WRONG with you people? I mean Harper was personal friends with a serial rapist and murderer who’d wormed his way into the high ranks of the Canadian Air Force while sneak-raping and strangling chicks across the country, and Colonel Mustard there was university buddies with Paul Bernardo. I mean what the fuck? Do you see what we are dealing with here? The man is about as clearly evil as it’s possible for a politician to get. I mean just look at him. Look at that trademark sneering smile of his. It’s creepy. Don’t you see that?

Eventually, someone came by with a jumpsuit for me. I determined there to be no point in wearing it as it was (naturally) short-sleeved and it was warmth I craved, so instead I huddled on the floor, wrapping it around myself upside down like a sort of half-body-sleeping bag. This allowed me the best rest I’d gotten since arriving, interrupted by my opportunity for a phone call to legal aid, who were unable to do anything much more than take down my name and the details of my arrest and subsequent treatment. They, of course, given the volume of arrests and the aforementioned preemptive arrest of other lawyers who could have been called in, were absolutely snowed in with cases, all of them shameful as the country already knows. The authorities were, quite naturally, giving them the runaround in general, refusing to cooperate in any way in releasing information.

A lady sergeant eventually came by to serve me my papers, and when I inquired on bail conditions she answered that, of course, I would have to give her my passport. This, in truth, had been my biggest worry for I’ve two conferences coming up in just a few weeks, the first in Paris where two hundred astronomers and astrophysicists will gather to discuss massive, hot stars and their various baffling characteristics, the second a smaller workshop in Northern Ireland where those of us who study massive, hot and magnetic stars will get together, compare notes, and decide where to go with our further studies. It would be a shame for my childish prank to get in the way of that. I pleaded this case to her, and to her credit, she listened, and grudgingly agreed, insisting of course that I provide her with details of my travel plans at first opportunity, which I of course did.

Presently she served me my papers, and sure enough, the requirement to hand over my passport had been removed. Still included was the injunction against attending public demonstrations, which I allowed to stand because it is such a clear violation of charter rights that it can, I expect, be easily stricken. Which is neither here nor there as I’ve a hearing on the 23rd of August and it’s on criminal charges, which is of rather more concern to me than bail conditions at the moment, as it was then, and so I figured, whatever, I’ll take it … I just want out of this hell-hole.

Of course, they weren’t done with me yet. First they had to photograph me, from three angles, with photos of both of my tattoos (both of which baffled them, neither of which did I enlighten them on. "What IS that on your back?" "A tattoo." I wasn’t just being surly about this, I’ve never told anyone what that tattoo means, and nor will I.), after which they scanned my fingerprints into a database. Very precisely, all of them, the whole hand actually at very high resolution. Quite sleek and hi-tech and obviously new to the constable who was visibly struggling with the notion that to make it work right, you had to scrub vigorously to take the oily sheen from my unwashed and greasy prison hands from mucking up the screen. Apparently this was a running joke with the other cops, a couple of whom asked if he was going to upload bad prints for them again. At any rate I expect that now, my high-resolution prints are instantly available anywhere in Canada or, potentially, in the world, for that matter. As unlike some Prime Ministerial drinking buddies that I could mention, I’m not a habitual criminal who breaks into girls’ houses at night and rapes them, I’m hoping this won’t come back to haunt me but you never can tell, these days. I mean, even the already-Orwellian ‘Free Speech Zones’ aren’t sacrosanct any more, it seems. Nor are the police required to tell the truth, about anything, until it suits them to do so.

Once I’d been scanned into their database, I was returned to a one-man holding cell, where the court officer at least had the courtesy to uncuff me before depositing me inside. Therein I sat, meditated through some mudras and doing some pipe breathing to try and pass the time, and eventually (due to the cold) just huddled into my t-shirt again (having abandoned my jumpsuit so another, more sodden and thus colder detainee could wear it, plus I had no intention of actually wearing that humiliating garment.) While I did this I listened in on the conversation of the officers, which was revealing. The topics most popular amongst them concerned whether they were getting paid overtime ("Really, we are? That much too? No way! High-five!"), and what they were going to spend their forty pieces of silver from the week leading up to the G20 on (the latest iCrack was sounding popular in the conversation I heard). Not the politics of it, not anything about what their high and mighty charges were gathered to discuss and while you might argue that there were undoubtedly those who judged it wiser to keep silent on matters political, and I would agree with you that there undoubtedly were, it was plain as day that many were blithely indifferent and focused like the hypnotized sheep dogs they are on sense, ego and appetite gratification and the immediate means to hand thereof.

It was a different sergeant who served me my papers, allowing me to be briefly un-cuffed for the induction ceremony. This guy was middle-aged, definitely a father, and as it turned out a U of T poli sci major. We bonded a bit over having the same alma mater, and he remarked cryptically that, "You and I would probably have a lot to talk about," which could be taken in any of a number of ways. Subtle solidarity from a basically liberal, tolerant, thoughtful and perhaps even compassionate individual, or just a good-cop routine? Who can tell? I’d like to believe the former, and while I might be naive, really, it doesn’t matter, so I’ll stick with that as the more likely option for now.

As it turned out our release was less-than-instantaneous: I was first transferred to yet another of the identical prefab cages, in which two other prisoners had been waiting for an hour. One of them, who’d had the sense not to bring ID, was pulling a John Doe which probably explains the delay but more power to him, really, if you ask me. I imagine he walked off free as a bird, the system having scrabbled against him and found no purchase.

It was a somewhat motherly looking middle aged officer who escorted me out. I offered to carry my possessions bag but she insisted she was strong enough and escorted me, hand more on my arm than really holding it, to the gate and set me free, whereupon I found camera crews from CityTV (live broadcast), CP24, and CBC (not live, thankfully) waiting on the curb, as well as a reporter from 1010 FM who interviewed me twice, because the first time, her tape didn’t work and it was such a great interview, she said, that she couldn’t bear to lose it. Having lost the opportunity to record myself addressing the cops when my camera gave up the ghost mid-protest, I totally sympathized, and besides, she reminded me of an ex-girlfriend of mine I’ve fond memories of, and besides all that this is a story that needs to get out which is why I’m telling you in far more gory detail than there would possibly be room for on television.

Your government has been stolen by crooks, Canada, and they have no intention of giving it back. Ever. If it is not removed, and soon, we will lose our democracy, our freedoms, our livelihoods and in many cases I expect, our lives, although that won’t start to happen until things get really vicious: as the war picks up steam, and the economy crumbles, and the only way of keeping it running is to put the unemployed masses (that would be you) into work camps that by the by, become death camps because lets face it, none of you are much cut out for that kind of work. This might seem hard to imagine happening here but think back on what this regime has already done and remember that fascist takeovers come in two flavors, fast and brutal like Pinochet or slow and insidious like Hitler. Canada’s too big and spread out and liberal for the former to work well so that kind of narrows down which kind it will be when history comes a calling and hey, look what we have here!

Just look at this.

Look long and hard, Canada. Look at what they have done in the G20. Look at the Harper regime, at all their many deceptions and all the awful things they’ve already done throughout their reign, some at home, most abroad. Look ahead at where this is going and look into your own souls, even if you don’t believe you have one, and ask if this is something we should stand for. Our ancestors gathered here from every corner of the world to breathe free, to escape the various oppressions that had taken root in their homelands, to live in a real civil society and now their multiethnic descendants are gathered together in the police and the military and many of them are being trained up for organized atrocity while we fight overseas like mercenaries for Wall Street’s pet imperial presidency (note where the capitals went for we should not forget the ultimate enemy, with representatives from Shanghai to Bay St. and lets not leave out that in the middle of London there is what they call "The City".)

This is so much bigger than you and me, it’s all of us, and if we don’t come together as a we and for once actually learn from history then we will shortly see the beginning of WWIII.

Good night, and good luck.

MATT SHULTZ can be reached at: matt.shultz@gmail.com

 

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