Volume 95, Issue 26

Thursday, October 18, 2001
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Protest chaos headed for London?

The world at war

Drag queens tuck, strut with pride

Flaming tires plague LTC buses

Sher talks Truscott travesty

Gay clubs on campus to represent

News Briefs

Protest chaos headed for London?

By Jessica Leeder
Gazette Staff

The protesters who ravaged Toronto's downtown core Tuesday are coming soon to a city near you.

Organized by an umbrella association called the Ontario Common Front, the protesters are a loose coalition of 80 social justice groups bound together by their common disdain for the Harris government.

The groups plan to move through many different Ontario cities in the coming months, including London on Oct. 27, said John Clarke, an organizer for the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty as well as the OCF.

"Everybody is united behind challenging the Harris government's basic direction, which has been to maximize wealth for the few at the expense of everybody else," Clarke said. "We want to pose a challenge to the daily workings of the financial community."

According to Const. Debbie Abbott of the Toronto Police Department, this week's Toronto protests led to the arrests of 40 protesters.

In all, 70 charges were laid.

According to a statement from Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman, a lawsuit instigated by the City of Toronto against those who damaged property is pending.

London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco said there is always a possibility of a group like this coming to London, however, informing local businesses would be "overreacting."

"I expect they will be lawful and abide by the law in our community, although I watched the protests on TV like everyone else and what happened is very concerning," she said. "It is always disturbing to see something like this turn violent."

Clarke said he thought Tuesday's protests were organized and "incredibly disciplined."

"If I was a billionaire and I owned a newspaper, I wouldn't want to say nice things about OCAP either," he said, noting the objective of the protesters was not to attract press attention.

"The fact that the media approaches the situation from a uniformly hostile point of view increases the recognition of what we've done and that's fine," he said.

Const. Abbott said these peaceful protests are a police concern because baseball bats, pipes, rocks and other unlawful weapons were still brought to the demonstration.

"It is not for us to say whether or not their concerns were legitimate. They have every right to make protests, but it must remain lawful," she said. "It is disappointing to see people who want to maintain they are protesting peacefully [while] causing damage to personal and private property."

"Peaceful protesters don't carry body armour. They don't come armed with two-by-fours with screws in them to hurt our police officers, horses and dogs," Lastman said.

–with files from Kristina Lundblad

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Copyright The Gazette 2001