Volume 95, Issue 31

Friday, October 26, 2001
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Mayhem in our backyard

Editorial Cartoon

Editorial Board 2001-2002

Mayhem in our backyard

Seattle, Washington, D.C., Quebec City, Genoa and London, Ontario?

While it may seem London has nothing in common with the other cities listed, it could become the site of the next "peaceful" protest turned chaotic riot in yet another example of the on-going struggle between protesters and police.

The Ontario Progressive Conservative party is holding a policy meeting at the London Convention Centre this weekend. Outside the meeting, the Ontario Common Front has organized "three days of resistance" in hopes of calling attention to social injustices within the province.

Although the Common Front is promising a non-violent protest, organizers suggested they are willing to commit certain acts of civil disobedience, including blocking delegates' access to the convention.

The London Police say they will have none of this.

Protesters blocking traffic or impeding business will be "subject to arrest" if they attempt to shut down the convention and extra officers have been brought in to support the local police.

The relationship between protesters and police is antagonistic at best, but in the days leading up to the convention, both parties seem to be trying to scare each other.

Before the Tories have even arrived or protesters have set-up shop all sides are exchanging promises and threats. Both sides swearing peace, but preparing for war.

And while protests like this have gotten out of hand in the past, there is no precedent for chaotic protests in the Forest City.

In fact, the Tent City that was erected in a downtown park for much of this past summer was entirely non-violent and there is no reason to believe this weekend's protest will take a turn for the worse.

Regardless, both sides tend to butt heads and neither seem willing to compromise. In this light, it becomes difficult to decipher who threw the first punch; who crossed the line first.

Groups who seek peaceful protest do not do enough to separate themselves from the ones who come with rage, rocks and molotov cocktails. Peaceful protesters need to publicly criticize the violence and make clear it has no place in the agenda they seek to put forth.

It is ironic this weekend's protest is occurring outside of a Tory convention where the man in charge led Ontario through what he deemed a "Common Sense" revolution. Ironic because that is what needs to prevail this weekend: common sense.

If both sides show practical understanding, the protest should go off without a hitch. But if one side slips up – even a bit – all hell could break loose and, this time, the pictures flashed across the country will be pictures from our own backyard.

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