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Tamils Take to the Gardiner

tamilprotest0905_15.jpg

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Top photo by Miles Storey/Torontoist; bottom photo by Nick Kozak/Torontoist.


Not long before dusk on Sunday night, several thousand Tamil protesters flowed onto the Gardiner Expressway, shutting it down shortly thereafter, to protest the ongoing violence in Sri Lanka. The Gardiner would remain shut down until about midnight, when the protest migrated off the roads and on to Queen’s Park.
Torontoist’s coverage—complete with on-the-scene photos from our photographers, and wrapping up just after 3:30 a.m.—continues after the fold.


8:24 p.m.—Members of Toronto’s Tamil community have taken a page from Critical Mass’ books, and have effectively shut down the Gardiner Expressway; Toronto Police are now saying that “It is likely that the Gardiner Expressway will remain closed through the evening” [PDF]. Torontoist is on the scene now; according to photographer Nick Kozak, the protest is taking place near the Spadina on-ramp.
Tamils on the Gardiner Expressway, May 10 2009 Tamils on the Gardiner Expressway, May 10 2009

Tamils on the Gardiner Expressway, May 10 2009
Photos by neilta from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.


9:01 p.m.—Torontoist’s Miles Storey and Nick Kozak are both on the Gardiner now, but Neil Ta (a member of Torontoist’s Flickr Pool) took the shots above from the balcony of his condo, at Bathurst and Queens Quay. More are in his Flickr set.

9:41 p.m.—And here’s an unbelievable video of the crowd rushing the Gardiner. (Hat tip to Dave Meslin.)
9:53 p.m.—Photographer Miles Storey is just getting back from the scene now; he says that, in the time he was there, and in spite of earlier news reports (from outlets like the Post) of assaults on police officers, he saw “no signs of any violence.” There’s some chanting, but it’s “like any other Tamil protest so far”: well-organized, a mix of families and individuals, and plenty of calm (like people drinking tea) amidst it all.
9:55 p.m.—Police Chief William Blair is expected to give a news conference at 10:30. David Miller, meanwhile, has issued a statement saying that “Toronto’s Tamil community is understandably concerned about what is happening to friends and family in Sri Lanka. They have an absolute right to make those concerns known and to protest. Endangering public safety by occupying the Gardiner or other public highways is not the right way to make that statement.”
tamilprotest0905_12.jpg tamilprotest0905_10.jpg

tamilprotest0905_11.jpg
Photos by Miles Storey/Torontoist.

10:02 p.m.—And here are a few of Miles Storey’s photos from right in the thick of it.

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10:20 p.m.—The reaction to the protest on Twitter has been mixed, but, like all things Twitter, curt and angry is winning over calm and measured—even, apparently, for organizations like radio station Energy FM, which should maybe consider finding someone new to man their Twitter.
tamilprotest0905_13.jpg tamilprotest0905_19.jpg tamilprotest0905_16.jpg
tamilprotest0905_17.jpg
Photos by Miles Storey/Torontoist.


10:50 p.m.—A few more photos from Miles Storey.
20090510tamils_blogspot1.jpg 20090510tamils_blogspot4.jpg 20090510tamils_blogspot5.jpg 20090510tamils_blogspot6.jpg
11:08 p.m.—And here’s a dramatic set of photos showing, in sequence, how the on-ramp fell out of police hands and into Tamil ones. (Hat tip to Spacing; photos used with permission.)
11:40 p.m.—We’ve got more photos, from Torontoist’s Nick Kozak, on the way, but while we wait, a quick recap of news coverage from the city’s mainstream outlets: The Globe, CityNews, Star, CBC, and National Post. (It goes without saying, but all those outlets allowing comments have hundreds of them.) The Post also has a full transcript of Bill Blair’s press conference earlier tonight. Most sources peg the number of protestors as ranging from two to three thousand, though that number dwindled after sunset, especially as families headed home, according to our Miles Storey.
tamil_express-1.jpg tamil_express-4.jpg tamil_express-5.jpg tamil_express-8.jpg tamil_express-9.jpg tamil_express-11.jpg tamil_express-15.jpg

tamil_express-17.jpg
Photos by Nick Kozak/Torontoist.


12:00 a.m.—And here are Nick Kozak’s photos.
12:11 a.m.According to CP24, protesters are now “dispersing…Organizers tell CP24 that they spoke with Liberal party leader Michael Ignatieff’s office and that he promised to bring up the issue with caucus and look at economic sanctions. The protesters say they are satisfied and are moving toward Queen’s Park. ”
12:20 a.m.Chris Drost, a friend of Torontoist’s and another photographer on the scene (who’s stayed with the protest for the bulk of the night, and whose photos we may soon feature) says that the move off the Gardiner has been “peaceful.” We’re going to hop over to Queen’s Park shortly to see what’s going on there, before we call it a night.
20090510queensparktamil2.jpg

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Photos by David Topping/Torontoist.


2:15 a.m.—There are at least a few hundred protesters gathered in Queen’s Park, more and more dense the further south you go; some are chanting, lots eating, most looking and sounding more than a little tired. Queen’s Park Crescent, which runs alongside the park, is filled with parked cars—of protesters and of the many, many police officers, who have lined the perimeter of the southernmost end of the park, where most of the crowd has gathered. When one pack of about eight protesters left from the larger group, we saw an officer walk them across the several lanes of street, south, to safety. One protester turned back to the cop and said, a little jokingly, “see you tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, the Toronto Police Service have announced that the Gardiner is now back open in both directions, and that “during the demonstration, three people were arrested and charged with Assault Peace Officer and Mischief Interfere with Property.”
20090510tamils_drost2.jpg 20090510tamils_drost4.jpg 20090510tamils_drost5.jpg 20090510tamils_drost6.jpg 20090510tamils_drost7.jpg 20090510tamils_drost8.jpg

20090510tamils_drost9.jpg
Photos by Chris Drost.


3:32 a.m.—And here are another set of photos from Chris Drost, who captured the Tamils’ move off the Gardiner earlier tonight, before the protest worked its way to Queen’s Park. Drost tells Torontoist:

One thing that struck me odd was how peaceful things got—protesters sat
down and chanted and drank their tea and Timmies. A constant supply was being brought up, while empty Timmie cups were transformed into candle holders (there were a few cup fires). Those little kids there are gonna be wiped tomorrow.
Cops did a great job keeping the peace—at one point things started to get a bit rowdy and it looked like cops were suiting up but someone managed to quell matters and then the rumour that someone in Ottawa was listening was enough to clear the decks. The riot cops moved in formation and slowly forced everyone, media included, off the highway.
[....]
Another odd note: the Tamil protesters pulled out garbage bags and started to clean up after themselves…when they tried to hop over to the eastbound lanes, the cops said: “Thanks but no need; we’ll take care of it for you.”

We’ll leave it at that for tonight.

Comments

  • JMfromTO

    This is not going to end well.

  • http://www.torontoist.com David Topping

    I just wanted to note a quick change I just made to this article for the sake of clarity: I originally said that “Toronto’s Tamil community” shut down the Gardiner, but I changed it to say that “Members of Toronto’s Tamil community.”
    I don’t think that the Toronto Police will be as laissez-faire about the Gardiner being shut down as they were about University Avenue.

  • http://undefined matt1256

    According to CP24 there have been assaults on some officers. I’m thinking these members of the Tamil community are putting the final nails in the coffin which holds the sympathy many might have had for them.

  • http://undefined dowlingm

    aim seems to be to get TPS to crack heads and get page 1 headlines. In Fantino’s day that would have been the first Union Stn blockade, never mind the later one and the Univ Ave shutdown. Unfortunately for them Blair isn’t so easily baited. Thank god the Jays were on the east coast and the Leafs and Raptors were playoff fail.

  • http://undefined dowlingm

    duh… that should have been “west coast” obviously.

  • http://thebitterguy.livejournal.com Justin M

    It appears they’ve given up on not flying the Tigers flags. Or am I mis-seeing them?

  • http://www.torontoist.com David Topping

    You can see in the full-sized shot of one of the photos above that they are indeed flying the Tigers’ flag.

  • http://undefined PickleToes

    What a coincidence! The protesters are flying the flag of a group recognized by the Government as a terrorist organization while they terrorize commuters by blocking arterial roadways.

  • Tim Kiladze

    I was at the corner of Yonge and Dundas when they passed by around 4:30p.m. or so. I hadn’t seen the protests in person yet, but from the television news reports I’ve seen to date, things looked pretty tame. Not so much today. They were pissed. And I don’t think it’s helping them.

  • http://undefined Tim Kiladze

    Make that Bay and Dundas.

  • http://undefined jw03

    Do the Tamil Tigers have a billing address so Toronto Police can send them an invoice for all the public resources they’ve wasted?
    I’m all for right to protest, but this has gone too far. Shutting down University Avenue for several days, and now the Gardiner? Enough.

  • http://undefined Greg Smith

    Do you *really* think this amounts to “terrorism”? I can think of a lot of ways to describe it, most of them very negative, but I think calling it terror is awfully hyperbolic.

  • http://undefined caviartothegeneral

    Tamil protestors: fuck off.

  • http://undefined PickleToes

    Definitely. It may be a mild version compared to what we’re accustomed to seeing, but the Tamils are still disrupting the public so that they can coerce the Government to do something.

  • http://www.stevemunro.ca Steve Munro

    Alas, they are doing their cause no good at all with this sort of approach. This will sound callous, but I doubt that a large number outside of their community is willing to put up with major disruptions in the city in the name of this international issue. They are certainly not surrounded by sympathetic protests from other groups.
    If they keep upping the ante, the backlash will hurt not just the protest, but the communuity in general, and other minorities by association.
    There is an important issue here: if protests above some critical size will not be controlled (note that I did not use the word “cannot”), does this give license to other groups to adapt the same strategy? Will this trigger a demand for a buildup in police capabilities, and what does this do to police-community relations?

  • http://undefined dowlingm

    +1 Steve Munro. This could be a long summer if other groups with a cause decide to shut down our city at will. The Department of Foreign Affairs is 125 Sussex Dr Ottawa, PMO is at 80 Wellington Ottawa – no government MPs in Toronto. Picket Flaherty’s office if Ottawa too far to go.

  • http://thebitterguy.livejournal.com Justin M

    If you’re terrified by this, just hide under your blanket and it’ll all be okay in a bit.

  • http://undefined Greg Smith

    A mild version of terrorism…? I think the (perhaps at this point very little remaining) analytic usefulness of the term is undermined by that essentially oxymoronic equivocation. Nothing that is mild is also terrorism, and vice versa.
    Your equation of the influence of protest with coercion is also misleading. If these protests do lead to any action favourable to the protesters’ aims — which I doubt — it won’t be because they *forced* it. The only thing they have forced is a police response. Hopefully it will end well… but as Steve suggests below, this will probably have a lasting effect on the relationship between police and most (or perhaps all) protests in this city for a long time.

  • Ken Hunt

    Agree or disagree with the methods, but you have to admit that this group has gotten their cause into the public consciousness.
    How many people in Toronto had any idea what was going on in Sri Lanka a month ago?
    Obviously there is a lot of negative backlash to this kind of protest, but at this point, in these people’s minds, their question is: what have we got to lose?

  • http://undefined ulysses

    Do I think taking over the Gardiner is dangerous and probably not a good idea? Yes. However, if my relatives were subject to the situation faced by the Tamils in Northern Sri Lanka, I certainly can’t say I wouldn’t do the same.
    I find a lot (almost all) of these comments really sad. It’s not like they’re protesting for tuition decreases or something less serious. This is about the lives of their families, friends and the fabric of the Tamil society in Sri Lanka. It’s callous and pathetic to say that we fully support protest and free speech, so long as it doesn’t really get in the way of our daily routines. That isn’t support for free speech, that’s lip service.
    When it comes to issues as important and passionate as this, protest doesn’t accomplish much by being polite. And to respond to the comment above which absurdly accuses them of terrorism… this is about getting attention for something that nobody outside of the Tamil community would think about for more than two seconds otherwise. The point is to get government moving to save lives and put an end to violence. The entire structure of this protest, even moving it on to the Gardiner, is to get attention, not to make people afraid. They haven’t threatened violence against anyone and so they are not using ‘terror’ as a political tool, which is the definition of terrorism. The fact that you equate traffic congestion with terrorism shows how insane our thinking on that topic has become.
    I hope this ends safely for all involved and that we can put aside our annoyance at the inconvenience to really think about how far we would go to try to get our government to protect the lives of our relatives if they lived abroad.
    Understanding is what makes us stronger and a better city.

  • http://undefined typezed

    When I walked through their protest on University a couple weeks ago I was surprised by the number of young children. When I was there during early afternoon on a school day, many families were tugging school age and younger children around, like it was a street carnival. Tonight they have children up on a major expressway. A spokesperson on CP24 was arguing against some of the initial actions (resisting people to occupy the road) of the police endangering children and the elderly.
    It’s not only in Sri Lanka that the Tigers employ human shields.

  • http://undefined Greg Smith

    Much of Toronto’s sizeable (yet usually low-profile) Tamil community is clearly deeply concerned by the troubling events in Sri Lanka and is desperate to so something about it, notwitstanding the slim prospect of achieving anything concrete. This can be understood in terms of the politics of representation. Unless the organizers are very naive, it would seem that they are settling for simply being heard.
    In puzzling over this, I have difficulty imagining how they might have so successfully raised the profile of their issue of concern without resorting to this series of substantially disruptive protests. The city (and I do not mean the City), as a community of communities, has got to find a more productive channel for such frustration.

  • http://undefined Dry Brain

    PickleToes, get some perspective. Terrorism? Inconvience does not equal terrorism.
    Ulysses is right. This thread is sad, as are comment threads on stories about past protests on the Globe and Mail, National Post and the Star sites. The Tamil Tigers are, perhaps (I admit to ignorance on this issue, so I’m not making any judgements) an ethically dodgy group who welcome terrorists into their ranks, but that’s not why Torontonians are complaining. People are complaining because a bunch of angry non-white people have blocked off major streets over a foreign political issue.
    And in response, under the web’s cloak of anonymity, people have been talking hateful bullshit. (One commenter over at the Post even said that the civil right to protest was no greater than his “right” to an easy commute, as if traffic jams constitute an affront to civil liberties. Others suggested the protesters be rounded up and deported, a comment that got several dozen approving votes from other readers, and only a handful of disapproving votes.)
    I don’t like the protests either; they’ve gone too far and are too disruptive. But this whole episode has exposed an ugly undercurrent of xenophobia and willful ignorance in this allegedly tolerant, inclusive city.

  • http://www.stevemunro.ca Steve Munro

    Understanding is fairly easy to come by, but political action by the general public is quite another thing. The typical response to massive “inconvenience” (imagine if this continues for several days) will not be pretty.
    Calls in various threads to “bring back Fantino” are the sort of response I would expect from people who never expect to be on the receiving end of a police action. Be careful what you ask for.
    Free Speech and the right to protest do not confer any right to block highways or to disrupt the city. That may sound like I am being too polite, but that’s the law. There are responsibilities attached to the exercise of freedom.

  • http://wendychi.wordpress.com Wendy Battenberg

    I think protests are a good way to get points across, and I agree that something should be done, but I don’t think it’s fair to put all those innocent bystanders in such a position. Yes, now everybody knows about the protest, but it’s also causing huge problems for people just trying to get somewhere. And on Mother’s Day, too. Maybe I’m just too young and naive to understand this situation properly, but that’s how I’m seeing it.

  • http://undefined dowlingm

    If I wanted to block a highway AND ACHIEVE ACTION I would block the road to Ottawa airport when Parliament heading into recess.

  • http://undefined aldrig

    It’s called civil disobedience and it’s a time-honoured tradition. Public disruption is the point. Complaining about its affect on the public is missing the point entirely.

  • http://www.bitpicture.com Marc Lostracco

    This photo is incredible!

  • http://undefined echo_rob

    im sick of your protesting….GTFO the roads and protest in ways other people somehow manage to….PEACEFULLY WHILE STILL GETTING THEIR POINT ACROSS…. you guys have pasted a tainted image of your community and if anything reduced the amount of support for your cause.
    Oh yea and a round of applause for putting your kids on the highway to make your cause…..lets put our kids at risk to make a point….very well done!!!!!!

  • http://www.stevemunro.ca Steve Munro

    “Civil disobedience” is not protected by law, only by whatever tradition one might appeal to. It is particularly inappropriate when it is carried out in a location where its impact on any agency that could have an effect on the desired change is negligible.

  • http://undefined Greg Smith

    I would not like to imagine how much stronger the backlash against a sizeable demonstration in sympathy with a formally designated terrorist group conducted near or in relation to an airport would be.

  • http://undefined ulysses

    “Free Speech and the right to protest do not confer any right to block highways or to disrupt the city. That may sound like I am being too polite, but that’s the law.”
    Not to be overdramatic but…
    Based on that logic, would you then argue that the Civil Rights movement, factory sit-ins for basic workplace safety and fair-pay, young Americans tearing up draft cards and fleeing to Canada, the actions of Gandhi, and hundreds of other actions that violated the law should have never taken place? Would we have been better off?
    Violating the law should not be taken lightly. It might be appropriate to arrest some people involved in the actions on the Gardiner today. What I’m saying is that we should understand that the cause for which they’re agitating might be important enough to get arrested for, and that they deserve our understanding, or at least an attempt to see things their way.
    I just think that if my family was in another country, being trapped in a war zone and in immediate risk because of a government that won’t agree to a cease fire, and my government wouldn’t take as much action as possible to stop it, I would sure as hell be mad and passionate and do everything I could (non violently) to stop it, even if it means getting arrested for disrupting a roadway. How could I live with myself otherwise, if I didn’t feel that I did all that I could?
    This is a very serious issue and deserves to be treated with respect.

  • http://undefined kman510

    It’s time to get the tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets out. Im watching the coverage on CP24 and they just lit up the Gardiner with floodlights so it wont be long before police flank them. What I dont get is the people they are interviewing keep changing the numbers from 3200, 5000, to 6500 killed. I’ve lost the little sympathy I had for these people. Only in Canada.

  • http://undefined CSM

    I support free speech in Canada. If the Tamils want to spend the week at Queen’s Park or some other location protesting, they can do so. However, should they break the law by blocking streets or being violent, I believe they should be arrested.
    Free speech does not mean a protester can do whatever they want. It means that, within limits, it is not illegal to protest on behalf of specific ideas.
    Why is their freedom of protest superior to my freedom to travel within the city? If you want to state it is because of the horrors being inflicted in Sri Lanka, be prepared for every group with an issue to escalate their protests in the city.

  • http://undefined aldrig

    Clearly civil disobedience isn’t protected by law since the definition of civil disobedience is the refusal to obey, you know, certain laws.

  • http://undefined Yonge And Bloor

    Well said, ulysses.

  • http://theintrepid.blogspot.com/ Stephen Michalowicz

    CTV News is calling it, “The Mess on The Express.”

  • http://undefined kman510

    According to their leader, he conversed with a rep from Ignatieuf’s office and they promised they would bring it up tomorrow…

  • http://undefined kman510

    And…now their leaving the Gardiner. Crisis averted.

  • http://undefined Paul Kishimoto

    Some thoughts:

    • There are interesting (if limited) parallels between Sri Lanka (now) and Israel (December). A recognized government is (accidentally?) killing minority civilians in pursuit of a group that claims to represent said minority. The group is (rightly or not) labelled terrorist. Governments who oppose terror are thereby required to support the government doing the killing. Canadian protests in support of the minority are opposed by equating the protestors with the terrorist group.
    • The references to civil disobedience are appropriate. “Go back to Colombo” echoes “Go back to your ghetto.” The latter sounds pretty ugly; to me, so does the former. “Clear these Tamils off our highway” → “Clear these niggers off our streets,” etc.
    • As raised, civil disobedience is never about safety or public order. The ’60′s were a violent time, on both sides. Would anyone say the outcome was negative?
    • I wonder if there are people who are sympathetic with participants in the often-violent protests at WTO meetings, but not with these protestors. Is the Sri Lankan government more or less corrupt than the corporate executives who preciptated the current recession? Does the difference (if any) mean one set of protests is more valid than the other?
    • Using “terrorism”, “human shield”, “hostage taking” to describe the protest muddies the debate and is irresponsible.
    • Does anyone seriously believe we can enjoy the continued, significant benefits of multiculturalism without having to acknowledge ugly human suffering abroad that didn’t formerly intrude on our comfortable lives?

    Anyway, I’m happy this thread is slightly less one-sided than this one: http://cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2009/05/10/toronto-tamilprotest.html#socialcomments

  • http://undefined Ryan Francis

    The red flags being waved at this latest protest show a tiger surrounded by 33 bullets and two automatic rifles. This flag resembles the insignia of the most brutal of all terrorist groups Asia has known. The flag to me resembles the sign of an organization which ethnically cleansed Muslims of Sri Lanka’s north and east for a creation of a Tamil only homeland.
    As a Canadian citizen it is appalling to me that Toronto’s police is concerned for the safety of a group who is trying to force Canada into pressuring Sri Lanka’s democratic government into allowing its cornered cult leader Prabhakaran to flee, re-arm and take Sri Lanka back into years of civil war.
    Many of these people have pending refugee cases which are dependant on a war in Sri Lanka.
    I am appalled that no one is bringing these issues into the public eye. All reports of civilian casualties in Sri Lanka come from news sites sympathetic to the Tamil Tigers. Only the Tamil Tigers benefit by claims of civilian casualties in Sri Lanka.
    Can a Muslim carry a flag in support of Al Qaeda? Why then are these people allowed to take the city of Toronto hostage?
    How come none of your reporters pose this question to the protesters? “Why are you not asking the Tamil Tigers to release Tamils they hold as a human shield?”
    Do not give into a group trying to cripple this country to get what they want.

  • http://undefined iliad

    The difference between the civil rights movement, factory sit-ins, or the strike at YorkU for that matter, and this act of blatant stupidity, is that a proper protest is centred and directed *directly* at the site of the offence. In this case, the Gardner, Citizens of Toronto, or hell even the entire state of Canada has had absolutely ZERO to do with this conflict. To compare the two is a logical fallacy. By this reasoning, PETA should block the airport, Environmentalists should block the pride parade, and Natives should blockade Mecca during the Hajj, etc. There is NO relationship between Canada and the civil war in Sri Lanka.
    What is in fact going on is blackmail. When the protestors demand that the Federal and Provincial governments guarantee them direct actions or they refuse to remove themselves, well that is blackmail. Plain and simple.
    Let’s be clear here, Canada has offered these people everything a person should reasonably ask for… peace, order and good government (ha-ha). We have taken in a very sizable population of displaced peoples (Tamil refugees) with open hands. Now we are being blackmailed by several thousand people to act out their nationalistic dreams. Well, Tamil Eelam is not something I can, will, or want to give these people. I can and did offer these people a life of peace and the opportunity for prosperity, and now we are collectively having our hand slapped and being told this isn’t good enough for these people.
    Lastly, it is also incorrect to suggest that the magnitude of this war can justify these actions. They cannot. I am frequently reading comments that “it’s only 1.5 hours out of your life, PEOPLE ARE DYING”. What these people fail to recognize is that this isn’t by any stretch a “peace” protest. These protestors should be demanding an immediate surrender by the LTTE. I have yet to hear one protestor demand that the LTTE surrender. The loss of this war is a forgone conclusion for the LTTE, yet the LTTE continue to barricade themselves in their final stronghold and shoot any civilians who try to escape. Where is the protest to stop the last of the war?
    It is high time for this protest and conflict to end. The LTTE should surrender.

  • http://undefined iliad

    Yay! Iggy decides to get blackmailed! What a wondrous day for Canadian democracy! From now on, no matter what the issue, we can be assured that the liberal party will “fight” for our cause, regardless of if the issue is worth pursing!
    I can *hardly* wait for the next hiccup in the Israel/Palestine perpetual war… I wonder if the D.V.P. or the 401 will be the preferred target? After-all, we now know that this strategy works!
    Perhaps my fellow pirates will take their concerns to runway 24-R during the next revision of C-61 and a Canadian DMCA! I hear it works!
    “We don’t negotiate with Terrorists” was never more applicable.

  • http://undefined Greg Smith

    “As a Canadian citizen it is appalling to me that Toronto’s police is concerned for the safety of a group who is trying to force Canada into pressuring Sri Lanka’s democratic government into allowing its cornered cult leader Prabhakaran to flee, re-arm and take Sri Lanka back into years of civil war.”
    I hope that you do not feel that it is appropriate for the police to modulate their concern for the safety of a given group based on that group’s politics? I would think it an uncontroversial position that the police should be concerned for everyone‘s safety, and that their behavior when interacting with any group should be based on that group’s actions rather than its (supposed) views.

  • http://undefined montauk

    bringing your kids with you to a protest ≠ human shields

  • http://undefined Paul Kishimoto

    In this case, the Gardner, Citizens of Toronto, or hell even the entire state of Canada has had absolutely ZERO to do with this conflict. To compare the two is a logical fallacy.

    Gee…since you’re clever enough to refute “ulysses” as “iliad”, your black-and-white perspective on this complex issue must be the right one. Let’s also hear your thoughts on proper protests and your clear summary of the plain and simple facts. Rigorous, infallacious logic holds the answer!

  • http://undefined montauk

    Amen.

  • http://undefined iliad

    I hear no suggestions from you either…
    But since you asked, I believe that these protestors should be protesting primarily at the Consulate of Sri Lanka (Yonge and St. Clair). Secondly at Parliament Hill. The protestors should be calling for PEACE. Canada cannot, should not and must not promise the Tamils Eelam. This is not ours to give, We have given Tamil Canadians all we can. Peace, order and good government. Anything else is not our collective responsibility.
    I believe that the protestors should be calling for a peaceful resolution to this conflict. Far too much blood has been spilled by all parties. The LTTE need to immediately surrender. If the LTTE surrendered tomorrow, not one more civilian would be killed. If these protestors are *truly* concerned about the civilians, then let the civilians go free.
    I believe once the LTTE has surrendered Canada should send in the DART team to provide humanitarian assistance with the distressed internally displaced people. Canada can play a role in the PEACE but has no place in the conflict. We can further provide logistical and legal support to Sri Lanka in establishing both a war crimes tribunal (the LTTE *are* terrorists after all) and a ‘truth and reconciliation’ commission. Lastly, we have a tremendous Tamil dispora in Canada (obviously). Canada should work with these concerned citizens to improve the livelihood of tamils in Sri Lanka.
    As for the role of logic. In times of high emotion, logic is the absolute best place to base our actions.
    But don’t let *my* overly simplistic and poorly researched thoughts cloud your ability to make snarky comments….

  • http://undefined typezed

    Okay then. Pushing your baby in a stroller up an expressway ramp behind the hooligan element of your community who have been tossing bicycles at the police, then crying the police are putting children at risk = foolish and hypocritical.
    It was intended as a parallel to show that their cause isn’t pure and their tactics are thoughtless. Of course they’re not yet doing it here with the dedication of their heroes.

  • http://undefined montauk

    It’s one of those odd quirks of internet discourse that innumerable arguments are based on claims of hypocrisy. Let’s say they are hypocrites. So what? Hypocrisy proves hypocrisy, and that’s all it proves. It doesn’t demonstrate that someone’s in the wrong, it doesn’t critique their actions; it’s means the subject of the discussion has failed to meet someone’s highly subjective criteria of moral consistency across different domains. It’s an ad hominem argument disguising itself as logic. I don’t like hypocrisy any more than the next person, but I don’t find it a useful accusation.
    I also don’t think the protesters are “the hooligan element”. They don’t have a history of hooliganism – before these protests, no one ever heard from them – and they don’t seem to behaving more hooliganish than other protestors. I’d argue they’re even less obnoxious than some – such as Critical Mass kids, for example. The crucial difference is that they’re blocking traffic, which has been shown throughout our recent history to make normally cool and collected people go absolutely ballistic, which is great for getting attention.
    For example, sometimes my bus takes a good seven minutes to make a left-hand turn on Keele, and although I know it’s no one’s fault in particular, this seven-minute delay makes me want to run up and down the aisle screaming the most alarming profanities and smashing all the windows with my bare hands. It works.

  • http://undefined matt1256

    Drawing parallels between the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is easy. Part of the problem lies in the differences and the terms used in the conflicts. One cannot expect to be attacked constantly and just eat the damage (Israel being rocketed), especially under the flag of genocide (which applies to the Palestinian action against Israel by virtue of the announce intention to destroy Israel, a national, racial, ethic or religious group[NRERG]). However, the scale and type of appropriate action needs to be addressed. The Tamil question is different. Genocide is inappropriately applied to the conflict as the intention of the LTTE rebellion is to form a new state by carving it out of Sri Lanka. There is no intent to destroy the Tamils as an ethnic group, it is merely a rebellion over political control over part of a landmass and its inhabitants.
    If you wish to talk about civil disobedience, look at the location of the acts. They were held inside the offending country to cause change in the country. They were not disrupting the normal function of an outside nation in order to achieve goals in another land. Attempting to make Canada (and the US) play World Police by taking these actions is stepping in to legitimizing all action by these governments in foreign countries. If these people want Canada to move in and start taking care of business, they better be there to support other actions by Canada and the US in foreign nations (and that definitely includes toppling governments and/or intervening. I hope those Tamils were fans of US action in Iraq).
    Civil disobedience was to basically cause shit in the home country. In India it was to screw with the British, but the battle was fought in India and it wasn’t an internal conflict. It was a foreign power dominating another. It was mean to regain control of their own country, not to create a new state.
    Protesting seems to be quite popular these days. From tuition fees to bicycles all the way to supporting a rebellion in another country whose tactics and actions are no less atrocious than the ones done by those they are rebelling against. The WTO protests were full of idiots, and this one is no different. It’s fun to bring the whole family in to potentially dangerous situations. Maybe the police won’t tear gas you because there are babies present.
    I agree that using terms like “terrorism”, “human shields” and “hostage taking” to describe the protest is irresponsible. Although I do wish they would practice what they preach and follow Canadian laws and stop disrupting our lives by imposing their civil war on us. If you love us so much, perhaps respecting us would be a good way to go.
    To counter your final point Paul, multiculturalism is an interesting point to raise. The Tamils are looking to destroy multiculturalism by creating a monocultural state. If they, and us, call on multiculturalism to be so fantastic then they should be calling for the surrender of the rebellion and continue to live in such a state while campaigning for increased equality and benefits if they feel they are being treated as second class citizens rather than violently attempting to create a Tamil state.
    On this note, to further the “World Police” line of thinking, let us suppose the Tamil state was created and remaining non-Tamils are treated as second class citizens. What do you expect then? Sanctions? We must accept responsibility for the results of the conflict if we intervene and police the actions of the newly created state and Sri Lanka. What can we do though? Protests varying from foreign powers imposing upon the two states will happen, protests about how one side is worse than the other…just another super shit storm. The results of this conflict will also set a precident, allowing any NRERG to create a rebellion against the ruling government and expect Canadian support against the government.
    Iggy needs to not bring up sanctions against the Sri Lankan government, but how to address the unlawful action of the protestors. The only concession that should be made is to have an investigation (as close to center as possible) commissioned to analyze the conflict (military, secret and uninvited preferably…we don’t want either side to pretty up their crimes for the audience) and then have the findings presented to the UN. I trust NGO reports about as far as I can spit.

  • http://undefined Septimus

    As an avid cyclist, after reading the angry reactions of drivers to the Tamil protest, I can say that I fully support the Tamils’ goals, whatever they are (I didn’t read that part).

  • ulysses

    PETA, environmentalists and Native issues are long term policy views which are different than this type of situation in that they aren’t an immediate response to the killing of civilians (who are family members and friends of the protesters)
    I would certainly have supported similar action on behalf of Lebanon or the Palestinians and think that if that had lead to Canadian Government pressure on Israel to halt their overwhelming military offenses, it would have saved a number of lives and been a good thing. Just as I supported the mass protests for the Iraq war although those (especially in Europe) must have inconvenienced huge numbers of people.
    In terms of targeting the location of the protest… these protests have been going on for a long time now and it is only once frustration builds that they escalate and culminate with this type of action. Especially given the news that came out yesterday about rapidly increasing casualties (UN mourns Sri Lanka ‘bloodbath’: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8043169.stm), it isn’t surprising that the passion of the protesters turned to more extreme desperation.
    The Government should not promise the Tamils a homeland, and the protesters have not asked them to. The protesters reacted positively when Beth Oda became involved and simply felt that the government could do much more to end immediate killing and suffering.
    I agree that they should also be advocating for the LTTE to surrender. That is a fair point.
    If, in response to the IRA, the British Government had overrun all of Ireland and were killing many civilians, don’t you think the Irish-Canadian community would have been up-in-arms?
    Although Canada has certainly offered immigrants a lot, I don’t think it’s fair to ask that these issues are ‘left at home’. If we don’t want to have to deal with international conflict, we should have a zero immigration policy but I think that would rob us of much more than some commuting time. As you say, we have given a lot, and now that the police have handled this skillfully rather than disperse them by force, we have given something more for which I am proud.

  • http://wesshepherdphotographers.com wesshepherd

    I can’t believe that this is allowed to happen—we’ve come to the point where a group of terrorist sympathizers can continue, over a period of weeks, to harrass and inconvenience the people of their adopted homeland while demanding that those same people come to the aid of a recognized terrorist organization.
    And am I the only one who finds it disturbing to see a photograph of a demonstrator, presumably a legal immigrant to Canada, holding a picture which says “Our Leader Prabhakaran”? Shouldn’t this guy then be back home supporting his leader, instead of bringing the Tamil conflict with him to Canada? As far as I am aware, Prabhakaran doesn’t lead anything in this country.

  • http://undefined montauk

    It’s irrelevant that they immigrated here. We all, largely, immigrated here at some point. This “omg ungrateful immigrants!” mentality is based on useless moralizing on how “we” second or third generation Canadians feel “they” should act. It’s pompous and entitled. Recently immigrated Canadians have no stronger obligation to behave in a certain way than any other Canadian. Coming here ten years ago and holding up traffic is no worse, and no better, than coming here forty years ago and holding up traffic. Judge citizens on their actions, not on your perceptions of what’s “appropriate” for people at their level of seniority (or lack thereof). Canada is not a fraternity.

  • http://undefined friend68

    Bringing young children to a protest on an elevated highway and purposely putting women and small children in the front rows is absolutely the strategy of a human sheild.

  • http://www.torontoist.com David Topping

    An update that doesn’t warrant an update to the live coverage above, but that is worth mentioning: I’ve just received permission from the photographer of these amazing photos to include some of them in the article (I’d only linked out to them before).

  • http://undefined torontothegreat

    Except for the, you know, over 1 million aboriginals that live here :P Of course, I do realize it’s easy to forget about us, especially after all your ancestors threw us onto reservations (internment camps?) and residential schools for rape fodder.
    Maybe we should fix our own historic problems before we give a damn about a terrorist organization that kills people so that their language isn’t unified (or am I missing something ‘deeper’ here?).
    The parallels to Israel are not even close. The only real parallel is the fact that there is a conflict happening. In fact, most palastinians would not view Israel as a civil war but rather an invasion (for good reason).
    The parallels to Quebec Sovereignty on the other hand are astounding. Only difference, the Quebecois didn’t kill mass amounts of people to have an independent state.

  • http://undefined matt1256

    They are angry because a bunch of people blocked off the Gardiner over a foreign political issue. The fact that they aren’t white is irrelevant, people would be just as upset if it was the English doing it. Stop trying to create an issue that isn’t there.

  • http://undefined montauk

    I said “largely” specifically with Aboriginals in mind.
    My ancestors weren’t involved in residential schools, the creation of reservations and forced ghettoization, the periodic outlawing of Aboriginal ceremony and regalia, the Sixties Scoop, the theft of land, the horrifying water standards, the failure to sign onto the UN declaration for the rights of indigenous peoples, or any other embarrassing atrocities perpetuated against Aboriginal peoples. Half my ancestors are from Poland; they fled to Canada during the Holocaust – so they have no connection to the churches involved. The other half are from Asia. I recognize, however, that as a non-Aboriginal Canadian, I indirectly profit from the government-sanctioned subjugation of Aboriginal peoples, as my Canadian ancestors have (two generations worth) – primarily through land and economy. Also I think my university is probably on Aboriginal land. At any rate, suffice it to say that the existence and rights of Aboriginals aren’t forgettable to me.
    I agree that we need to fix our problems here, but I don’t agree that Canada can’t work on international issues until it has solved its domestic ones.

  • http://undefined addict

    Miles, Nick & Chris – those are some stellar photos.
    i don’t agree with the method this group used. peaceful demonstration does not include breaking the law… and yes, the Highway Traffic Act *is* a law.
    lots of people protest in Canda for lots of different reasons/causes. it’s not the people or the causes that have angered/frustrated those affected by the protest.
    so many people think the anger/frustration was solely because these are non-white people upset about foreign issues. but think about it this way. if these were CAW members protesting about their pensions, do you think people would’ve been more tolerant? i doubt it.

  • http://undefined torontothegreat

    I guess your use of the word ‘all’ threw me off. We all largely, would indicate that we ‘all’ did something.
    Anyhow, I’m not here to help you split hairs on what you said.
    >I agree that we need to fix our problems here, but I don’t agree that Canada can’t work on international issues until it has solved its domestic ones.
    I never said we shouldn’t involve ourselves in international issues, my Somalian family would agree with me. However it’s heartbreaking to me that we have devoted so much time to everyone else’s problems, when we just generally ignore a culture that has every right to be angry and has every right to be here and has every right to keep their own culture. Unlike this particular conflict.

  • http://undefined friend68

    The fact that more people know what they are concerned about is hardly a justification, as that could obviously taken to an extreme that no one would approve of. (OK, well maybe not no one).

  • http://undefined friend68

    I can only comment for myself, but this protest in particular is galling for a couple of reasons.
    One is the perception that laws are not being enforced equally and fairly.
    Second is the inclusion of children in this kind of protest. I think it is irresponsible for parents to put their children in a situation where they are put at risk.
    Third is that the venue has little to do with the desired results. If action is desired from the Canadian federal government, shouldn’t the venue be Ottawa? Not Toronto, not the Gardener, not the US Consulate.
    As an aside, I’m also very proud of the police forces involved in this, for their restraint and judgement in an obviously emotionally charged and risky environment.

  • http://undefined torontothegreat

    >I also don’t think the protesters are “the hooligan element”. They don’t have a history of hooliganism – before these protests, no one ever heard from them – and they don’t seem to behaving more hooliganish than other protestors
    You never heard about the extortion of money then? Gang Violence? The Tamil community in Toronto has had a sordid past (to say the least).

  • http://undefined montauk

    I think there’s a key distinction that needs to be made between “The Tamil community” and “Tamils who are involved in extortion and gang violence”. In fact, I think there’s also a distinction that needs to be made between “The Tamil community” and “Tamils in Toronto”. We know better than to say “The white community has a sordid history of money laundering and drug-running in Toronto”; let’s extend that nuance to Tamils.

  • ulysses

    Protesting about their pensions, no I don’t think people would be more tolerant. On the other hand, if they were protesting the government not doing enough to stop someone from shelling Windsor and killing their families, then yes, I think people would be a bit more understanding.
    It’s such a habit to write off protests being about special interests or non-majority political views. It’s important to keep in mind that this is very different. This issue is rooted in urgency and the need for immediate action, not for potential future reform of some non life-threatening issue.

  • http://undefined torontothegreat

    >before these protests, no one ever heard from them
    That’s a good distinction to start with. Did their sordid history not pave the way for an apathetic public? I believe it’s going to have something to do with it. From the other side of Canada I heard about these things. That’s all I’m refuting in your claim.

  • http://undefined matt1256

    Urgency is lost in a war that has lasted well over 26 years. Also, if Windsor was getting shelled by our government and the protests were it, it would be appropriate. Internet conflict and internal protests. Also, don’t forget that if you want to relocate the conflict to Canada, that means the people of Windsor are out there killing families and otherwise in London, Guelph, Hamilton, etc.
    Canada’s only position should be enforcing the laws in our country, sympathizing with the loss of life on both sides and then taking a stance of non-involvement except for the offer of humanitarian aid in post-conflict restructuring. If they want aid, both sides need to stop fighting.

  • http://undefined montauk

    No. That is not what a human shield is.
    A human shield is when combatants (i.e, persons engaged in violence or physical/military aggression) surround themselves with civilians to prevent themselves from being targeted by rival combatants.
    You are arbitrarily designating male Tamils as combatants, police as rival combatants, and female Tamils as the unwilling civilians. These designations are wrong. All of the Tamils are civilians. That’s why the women don’t count as “human shields”. You can’t become a human shield by virtue of having a vagina or being brought to a protest with your parents keeping an eye on you.
    If you really see a bunch of Tamil civilians protesting and cops there to keep peace and order and the first thing that pops into your head is “human shield!”, you must have grown up in Milton and never seen the news.
    Of course, saying “HUMAN SHIELD HUMAN SHIELD OMG HUMAN SHIELD” isn’t a legitimate argument to begin with. It’s just an attempt to force a connection between scary brown people here engaged in a relatively peaceful protest, and scary brown people over there blowing each other up. Look, you are saying, at how scary these brown people are! Look at how savage they are! Human shields!
    There’s a GO train out of Milton, and frequent buses too, fyi.

  • http://undefined montauk

    I don’t think you can assume that “Tamils who earned a bad reputation” and “Tamils currently protesting” are the same group. I don’t like the implication that if some members of your ethnicity have committed crimes, you bear some sort of accountability when the public and government are apathetic about your issues. The Tamils are not some kind of hyper-organized league with internal policing and monthly newsletters and shit; you can’t ascribe to all Tamils the “sordid history” of a relative few. Maybe that’s how people operate, but it’s not the Tamils’ fault if people ignorantly homogenize them.

  • http://undefined typezed

    I thought I was making the distinction between the radical minority and the rest of the community when I used the word element. The large mob of excited teenagers and young adults confronting five bicycle cops and a traffic officer to get somewhere they don’t belong aren’t being peaceful, nor were they being peaceful when they tried to stop the Dundas streetcar a couple Wednesdays ago. They are trying to provoke reaction. Perhaps at this point the organizers should tell them five-foot tall grandmothers and the people pushing strollers that the action has escalated and they’re no longer safe there. This wasn’t done. Instead everyone is invited up, and the organizers return to the charade that a protest is peaceful while directly challenging civic order. The organizers then exploit the prospect of harm to the elderly and young children as a grievance when speaking to the media about police actions. Of course this isn’t the same as tossing people in front of bullets. But if there can be a parallel drawn between the disregard and endangerment here and the criticisms that the homeland political and military leaders they support maneuver around civilians and then cry foul when innocents get hurt, then I’m willing to make it as a talking point.
    Anything to undermine this nonsense.
    I’m not upset because traffic is disrupted. I wasn’t on the roads, and I prefer the TTC to the Gardiner. It disturbs me to see the conflicts and dysfunctions of distant lands being brought here, to this place that has been providing refuge to people from all over. It radicalizes the involved immigrant communities and it makes the rest of us angry and defensive and less charitable to people who are different. Nothing is going to be achieved by this, and there is no institutional oppression here for them to disobey. Their only real grievance with the rest of the population is that many of us who are safe and privileged don’t care enough about desperate people far away of us. But we probably don’t care enough about lots of desperate people in lots of places that aren’t Sri Lanka, and that’s a universal human flaw that won’t be solved by any amount of drum-banging and emoting on the roadways.

  • http://undefined montauk

    First, you can be civically (sp?) disobedient and still peaceful. Peace means non-violence, not obedience. Most Toronto protests – despite accusations of brutality from both sides – go down pretty peacefully. This was no exception. Let’s not make a mountain out of a molehill.
    Secondly, for people with non-Canadian homelands, these aren’t “distant lands”. They affect these people’s friends and families. You have to consider that your perception of what issues count as “our” issues hinges on the assumption that we all share white, second-or-third generation Canadian histories and values. We don’t.
    Finally, if being politically active in the issues of their homeland makes “the rest of us” (I wonder what demographic of people counts as “us”?) angry and defensive and less charitable to people who are different, our tolerance of difference is pretty shoddy and probably not worth pursuing anyway.
    Anyway, I don’t think the Tamils in these protests care about ingratiating themselves to “us”. They aren’t trying to win public favour, they’re trying to get governmental attention. Not everything revolves around the solicitation or loss of “our” good graces.

  • http://undefined Alecto

    Thank you for one of the best comments I’ve seen on this issue yet. The Tamil protestors don’t seem to be protesting for peace; they are asking Canada to intervene AGAINST Sri Lanka. In other words, take sides in another country’s civil war. There is no good reason or precedent for Canada to do this.
    This tactic of trying to inconvenience ordinary citizens to try to bully our government into supporting a particular faction in a foreign war just seems so very wrong to me.
    I’d dearly love to hear from some Sri Lankan Canadians.

  • http://undefined Tommy thorne

    I am very aware of the atrocity that is happening in Sri Lanka and have been told by couple of my fellow Sri Lankan Tamils what is happening in their homeland. There not out there to get sympathy and when they do cooperate with the cops they get nothing out of it. None of them want to be out there protesting but its not up to them, there not doing this for their own needs but to help there brothers and sisters in this war. If they don’t then who will? It’s either they get hated upon by the protest or by any chance save the lives of innocent people. What would you do? All there asking is for the Canadian Government to put pressure on the Sri Lankan Government and not surprisingly the government has barely done anything to help out. They have the ability to put a certain amount of pressure on them or show initiative that there doing something about this tragic issue. There out there for a good cause and i’m totally with them as a Canadian. I totally understand what there going through. They have tried protesting peacefully at places around Ontario mainly Toronto and Ottawa but nothing really happened. Everyday many people are dying and the whole Tamil population is going to be wiped out. This is what i’m being told, which is clearly ethnic cleansing. People are getting killed, raped, discriminated, kidnapped… why because their simply Tamil. All they want in Sri Lanka is equal rights like everybody else. Everyone needs to open there eyes wider to see these people are not out there to cause chaos lol.. but no doubt i believe there could be better ways in portraying their message. However, since this incident it created a lot of attention and i believe some actions from the Canadian Government is taking place. If this is the only way to bring attention to the Canadian Government then i guess that’s the only thing they can do. If there was any other possible solutions then for sure it wouldn’t have been taken to Gardiner. Anyways, i hope peace comes to their country and many others who are facing similar issues!

  • http://undefined Daniel Sills

    There not out there to be a nuisance and bring sympathy to them, their out there because they want the Canadian Government to take actions on the Sri Lankan Government. Tamils are getting killed there and the issue is very similar to the genocidal act in Rwanda. So those haters out there, show some respect to these people. If you were in there shoes who would be doing anything you can to help out. Everyone needs to get there facts straight before they talk, because its obvious everyone’s talking out of anger and not realizing the actual issue. It’s really pathetic!!! Its sad to see our fellow citizens behaving like this, have a heart! plus there not even asking for much, also talk to a tamil citizen about this issue instead of blabbering hatred things. Simply pathetic!

  • http://undefined Daniel Sills

    p.s. a lot of these negative comments are from racist Sinhalese people in Toronto! There the ones that are discriminating against Tamils in Sri Lanka!

  • http://undefined Methodman

    THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO PROTEST! I HAVE TAMIL FREINDS AND I AM FULLY AWARE WHAT IS HAPPENING IN SRI LANKA. ITS REALLY SAD, BUT A LOT COUNTRIES ARE DEALING WITH THE SAME ISSUE. ALSO, I DON’T THINK IT WAS THE BEST THING TO PROTEST ON GARDINER. BUT I’M SURE THEY KNEW THAT AND REALIZED IT WAS THE LAST OPTION THEY HAD.

  • http://undefined friend68

    You’re very clever with your dictionary (or I suspect Wikipedia) definition of “human shield” but I don’t think there is any believable reason for placing the children up front other than trying to discourage police from breaking up their protest, and making those children the first to be hurt should that decision be made. I would submit that a human shield is a human who is used as a shield.
    I’m not arbitrarily assigning anyone certain roles, and despite your insinuations, it’s not an issue of gender or race. I believe that the cycling activists who brought children onto the Gardiner were similarly irresponsible, thought they did not line their kids up against the police’s position.
    And if you are suggesting that it’s perfectly rational for kids to be brought onto the highway because their parents could get a babysitter… well, I don’t know what to say to you.
    And despite your distaste for Milton (not to mention civilized debate), I did not grow up there.

  • http://undefined montauk

    Oh, give me a break. You know perfectly well that the concept of a “human shield”, and the loaded connotations that accompany it, isn’t befitting a bunch of people walking onto a highway and then leaving in a typical mild-mannered Canadian protest. (I don’t know why everyone’s absolutely adamant that the protest was inches from total ultraviolence; a genuinely violent protest in this country is really quite rare – even with road rage.)
    “Human shield” is selectively applied to armed conflicts involving civilians – do a Google News search for “human shield” and then tell me you just innocently used the word, and by golly, you’d use it for anyone, it just so happened that you’re using it to describe Tamil protesters. No sir, no strategic sensationalizing there! You can absolutely argue that keeping kids in front is like a “human shield”, and I can absolutely argue that what’s happening to the Tamils in Sri Lanka is a “holocaust”, but let’s not kid ourselves that the choice of words isn’t 100% strategic and 100% loaded. You’re stretching.
    It’s like that CH channel anchor who saw the Native protesters at the Caledonia road blockade, who wore bandannas and scarves over the faces to avoid TV recognition, and said with relish, “But don’t they look like terrorists?” One could easily find me a thousand pictures of bandanna-wearing terrorists and defend the application of the word, but god help you justifying the application of the context.

  • ulysses

    The last few comments have given me some hope that the city isn’t completely selfish and unthoughtful.
    I still can’t believe that anyone, even those posting about how ‘stupid’ the protest is, wouldn’t be doing the exact same thing in that situation. Please, seriously, take the time to imagine your family in imminent and urgent danger and to know that your government could do something to help. It isn’t picking sides… it’s only stopping the violence taking place right now until something stability can be put in place.
    At least it looks like the United States and England are clearly saying that the death toll is “unacceptable” (as opposed to none of their business, as most of these comments would have us all say).
    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601091&sid=aSBwBHQXA1jo&refer=india
    After 8 years of George W., it’s pretty strange to feel that I wish our government would act more like the Americans on foreign affairs. I hope it’s not a feeling I’ll have to get used to.

  • http://undefined canuck in uk

    Interesting how people are offended by the use of Tamil Tiger flag. Labelling the flag wavers as “terrorists” is ridiculous and is a discredit to any of your arguments.
    Likewise, the Irish tricolour was once seen as a “Terrorist” (or freedom fighter) flag too. Indeed, it still is in some parts of the North of Ireland (or Northern Ireland, depending on your views)!

  • http://undefined friend68

    I’m not trying to imply anything else other than I think it is irresponsible and dangerous to use children in a protest such as this in this way. Add to that they weren’t just brought along with their parents, there were lined up in the front.
    And despite your continual attempt to marginalize anyone who disagrees with you, it has nothing to do with race.
    Also, other than another attempt to paint someone else as a racist, I don’t see how this is like the ridiculous comment an uninformed newscaster. But hey, first Milton and now Hamilton — is anyone from a smaller city racist too?

  • http://undefined montauk

    You’re continually misrepresenting my arguments as idly calling you racist. I did not, at any point, call you racist. If I were going to make a claim of racism, I wouldn’t say “you’re a racist!”, I’d say “that idea is racist”, because I don’t believe it’s useful or accurate to try to typify someone as a racist. I do think there are racist implications to applying “human shield” to a bunch of a peaceful Tamil protesters in the midst of a media flood of accusations of human shield practices by the LTTE in Sri Lanka – that’s what I’m getting at, when I’m saying you’re trying to make a connection between peaceful brown people here and violent brown people there, but the bent of my argument throughout this has been the use of “human shield” as more strategic than accurate.
    However, since you think I’m “marginalizing” you (by replying to your comment? in an online comments section?), I’m am genuinely changing my mind. I think you and I are working from such drastically different experiences of the realities of these concepts – marginalization, human shields, what-have-you, that you are unable to see how your use of those words is problematic and inappropriate — just as I am unable to see how your use is acceptable and appropriate. This sounds like I’m saying “You’re just ignorant and dumb!” but I’m really not — I think you’re making perfectly rational statements based on your experiences, just as I am making perfectly rational statements based on mine. It isn’t either of our faults that our experiences – both valid – differ.

  • http://undefined montauk

    ^ that’s to friend86 or whatever your username is

  • http://undefined friend68

    It seems we both believe each is misrepresenting the thoughts of the other.
    I read it as an accusation of racism when you imply that I am making the points I am trying to because they are “scary brown people” or when you make the statement, “Look, you are saying, at how scary these brown people are! Look at how savage they are! Human shields!”
    I don’t attempt to imply anything about race when I refer to the use of children in this way, as I think that placing children in harm’s way to make a point or to attempt to affect the reactions of another is reprehensible no matter who does it. I will concende that the phrase “human shield” can imply more than I mean, as that tactic has certainly been used by terrorist groups — and I do not suggest that I view these protesters in that way.
    I made the comment that you might be trying to marginalize or stigmatize those who disagree with you by implying they have racist motivations and therefore that they are beneath debate and that their opinions are not valid. I don’t believe that I am unable to see how certain phrases might be problematic — I just don’t agree with your interpretation of all of them, and I don’t believe that your portrayal of the motives behind my postings has been accurate.

  • http://undefined montauk

    Here’s an example. To me, the word “marginalized”, for example, has a really specific context and meaning. It’s not “some asshole in the comments section calling me racist”, it’s when society itself is pushing your people into a corner. To me, applying “marginalization” to my commenting is a total hyperbole.
    I feel the same way about “human shield”. To me, it’s when some militia starts using civilians to protect themselves from another militia’s attack. It’s in a specific context of extreme violence and combat. So to me, applying “human shield” to a bunch of peaceful protesters is hyperbole.
    I’m not saying “you’re too stupid to get this”. I’m saying, we are both coming at this from very different contexts. Sorry if it came out as an insult, I didn’t mean it as such.

  • http://undefined friend68

    All that talk about the understood definitions of words and phrases just seems to me, at this point, a distraction from talking about whether it was appropriate or wise, or what the motives were, behind the choice to line up kids against the police on the highway.

  • http://undefined montauk

    And to me, the use of loaded words is a big deal and an issue unto itself, not a distraction. How an event is characterized, to me, can affect how it’s discussed or debated, blah blah blah.