There are lots of bad videos from Toronto streets during the G20. This, though, might be the best.
It’s just seventeen seconds long, but here’s what happens: in the midst of Saturday’s violence, a man holds his black hoodie up to his face and walks through the smashed window of the Bell store on Yonge Street south of College. He grabs a white box—presumably with a phone inside—and quickly heads back out. As he leaves, he knocks into a man in a brown t-shirt, and in a strange moment of courteousness, seems to half-apologize for the bump.
Then, a man in a light grey shirt grabs the man in the hoodie, wraps his arm around his neck, and wrestles him handily to the ground. After he does, the man in the grey t-shirt reaches across the man in the hoodie, grabs the box, and tosses it back into the store. (In the background, the man in the brown shirt, who seemed to be about to enter the store himself, apparently reconsiders.) The man in the grey t-shirt pulls the man in the hoodie up, then shoves him away.
The video, uploaded to YouTube yesterday (title: “Looter Gets Owned During G20 Toronto Riots”) was shot by Corey Surge, a local writer and director. “I had seen on the news that there was a large group of protesters making their way down Queen,” explains Surge, “so I hopped on my crappy Canadian Tire bike with my camera and thought I’d snap a few pics. What I ended up in the middle of was pretty shocking—definitely not something you’d expect in Canada, let alone the city you live in….It was overwhelming.”
“I just kept thinking that this is unlike anything I have seen before in person, unlike anything I’ve been a part of,” Surge continues. “I was also grateful that I had my dorky bike helmet on to protect myself from projectiles and glass.”
Surge says, too, that he wanted to do what the man in the grey t-shirt did: “As scrawny as I am, I’m quite squirrelly and my instinct was actually to interject.” A few minutes earlier, though, Surge watched as a man who’d tried to stop one rioter from breaking a window was “swarmed by no less than eight to ten other people,” so “self preservation, and fear of my mother and father’s scorn if they had to pick me up at the hospital (or jail), dictated I not put myself at risk against this mob.”
No such fears for the man in the grey t-shirt, though, whose identity for now remains unknown to Surge and us. (If you do know, email firstname.lastname@example.org.) [ : He’s Roger Reis, a banker who also happens to have a black belt. Here’s Torontoist’s interview with him.]