Monday, June 28, 2010

state of siege or no picnic

George, balanced solely on his haunches held this pose for nearly 20 minutes. I don’t know why I called it state of siege - I could have called it marooned on solid ground or resistance or endurance or persistence or suspended animation or tipping point or god knows what.

vine and compressed charcoal on bond or cartridge - 18" x 24"

 Perhaps I was thinking of Toronto this weekend and the uncharacteristic unleashing of vandalism that occurred outside the G20 security zone during what was primarily a peaceful demonstration  of peace activists numbering as many as 10,000. There were representatives on behalf of Oxfam, native aboriginal groups, the Stephen Lewis Foundation, Save the Mothers in Uganda, etc - and as well a small malicious group of anonymously dressed persons in black hoodies known as black bloc. 
It’s conjectured that the so called black bloc -  anarchists, have no commonality, they could be anyone and everyone including  some agent provacateurs planted there by the police themselves.
See articles:
I was in Toronto on Wednesday  and cycled through a seemingly endless corridor of high chain link fence making my way west to where my daughter lived. I passed massive groupings of police everywhere, many on bicycles looking like fun loving boys and girls, scouts assembled for a picnic. 
I stayed over on Thursday with the intention of going to Robarts a huge U of T library for a book on Isaak Levitan. The library was closed – the entire university was closed! I barely made it to the AGO in time  knowing that it too would be shut down Friday afternoon until the following Tuesday. Then I headed back to Hamilton. That was wise because on Saturday Union Station was shut down and I would have been marooned. Marooned!?
Yesterday I watched a video by an independent jounnalist on Huffington Post,  Brandon Jourdan, I was immediately struck by how threatening and intimidating the police looked in their riot gear - visor shields and weaponry.  That was a transformation from what I saw when I was there on Wednesday. No picnic indeed. All that securigard, the fence, the 20, 000 police – the cost – a mere one billion.
Couldn’t the esteemed leaders have met, conferred, convened  through the advanced high tech of teleconferencing, skype? Too modest? But think of the budget – one billion - they could have saved? $$1B 


  1. What an apt illustration.
    You've posed some good questions here about the G20. Sometimes I think that the only real players are the "esteemed leaders" and "the black bloc"; the peace activists participate at the discretion of those two groups, serving to balance and fill the board like pawns. Actually, I question if any of the above understand the actual rules of the game.

  2. Great drawing,

    It was a horror to behold, and it cost one and a half billion just for security. That's not the total cost. The upshot? An agreement by the leaders to cut public spending. Aha! That 1 1/2 billion could really have gone a long way to solving ...pick an about the child poverty in Canada that was supposed to end in 2000. One in 6 children in Canada lives in poverty and does not have enough food.

    I pick that one, oh yeah and leave our city alone G20!

    Great blog.

    Love Barbara

  3. This is a lovely drawing, Marcia. I am particularly taken with the beautiful smearing of charcoal. You do have a way with charcoal.

    The world is also teetering in an awkward pose. It's disturbing to see that your country also experiences this type of jack-booted policing and suspicious "protesters" who may be in collusion with the authorities.

    We like to think of Canada as different from the US, but harsh and expensive policing are the new standard. And, the people without a voice continue to suffer.

  4. I agree with your observation, Sam Artdog. I suspect the power players don’t care about the rules – make them up as they go along – “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely” Lord Acton. That’s why we need egalitarian minded citizens’ groups, protestors, who do know the rules.

  5. Hi Barbara,

    Yikes! 1 1/2 billion- that was indeed an expensive photo shoot.
    That aside, does Harper have the least bit of regard for civil liberties? I guess when it suits his purpose yes, but in this case NO!

    The anti poverty protestors were also trying to remind G8 and G20 leaders that aid promised to African countries like Uganda, where 10,000 young women die every year in childbirth (to 10 in Canada) –has not been delivered - and Uganda and Canada are equivalent in population. Not to mention the fact that girls in that country - if they manage to survive, never get sent to school. Dr Jean Chamberlain Froese, an obstetrician, spoke about these problems when she was interviewed by Michael Enright on CBC last Sunday.

  6. Hi Melinda,

    I also like to think of Canada as a country that is moderate and fair-minded - however Steve Paikin, who I consider a rational, fair-minded journalist, referred to what took place in Toronto last weekend as ‘A black eye for democracy’ – his article appeared in the Ottawa Citizen.

    Paikin is the anchor for an hourly, in depth current affairs program called the Agenda on TVO, our best educational station. .He always tries to present a balanced picture of tough issues from opposing sides. He’s no radical and he’s respected. So when police demand to see his identity and order him to leave a free zone or be arrested - when he’s simply trying to do his job as a journalist – something is way, way out of whack.

    And when he sees a fellow journalist beside him being punched in the stomach and kicked by three policeman – it’s time to get very worried.
Harper does I believe, does have authoritarian tendencies – I don’t think he’s overly concerned about citizens rights or civil liberties – he’s shown himself to be fairly ruthless on occasion and has some of the same advisors that premier Peter Harris had whose policies did a lot of harm to Ontario in the ‘90s. Of course he’ll try to justify his deployment of 20,000 police during the G20 and sadly, many Canadians will be fooled by his spin.

Actually a recent rumor going around has it that members of the police set their own car ablaze. They’ve discovered that one of the cars had an empty gas tank. If there had been gas in that tank it would have exploded and caused some pretty extensive damage. So what do you think of that?

  7. You know, Marcia, I was going to reply with a big, long rant, but I'm just too angry about what is happening in the world. In some small way, I'd hoped that the devolution of American democracy was just an aberration for us. To realize that it is happening everywhere, due to the new corporate fascism, accompanied by brutish military force, makes my heart hurt.

    Art is healing.