Day of Four Rallies, part one

You have to give it to Toronto. This city does rallies. That one town can be so thoroughly tolerant is unique and wonderful. Today, I watched the Toronto rally in support of Marc Emery, who is about to begin serving a five-year sentence in an American jail on drug charges (see my previous post). However, the day quickly turned, well, strange.

When I arrived at the U.S. consulate, more precisely on the other wide of the street, I ran into a Tamil protest going on at the same time. As many of you might know, the Tamil people have been cruelly dealt with at the hands of the Sri Lankan government, so to be honest I wanted to spend time learning a bit more—have a look at TamilNet and check it out for current news and events in the Tamil community, and have a look at thisIMG_0782

—some diorama, hey?) while the pro-pot rally went on with the protesters, who weren’t allowed to stand on the sidewalk for their protest. For some reason, no one had gotten a permit.  In retrospect, maybe that wasn’t much of a surprise.

Still, I could not ignore the dedication of these people. The Hash Mob trio had dared arrest many times before (Mernagh’s site includes some interesting stories thereupon), and weren'[t necessarily afraid; however, I was worried about the people who worked for Goodwin but had yet to go through what he had. honestly, I was hoping they wouldn’t be arrested, so when the paddy wagon showed up there must have been a general urge to panic. They clearly did not, to their credit. Instead, a couple of them sparked up. I wanted to ask the cops what they thought about that, what they felt it could mean in a larger sense, but it seemed better to stand aside and watch.

The group decided to move on to Queen’s Park: IMG_0785

On the way (I straggled behind, taking these photos), one young woman started saying some rather angry, vituperative things about the police, ideas not at all in keeping with what Goodwin and the group had in mind. This woman came into Goodwin’s line of fire immediately. He called her an agent provacateur; she refused to stop yelling at the cops. Goodwin was certain she was with the police, a plant. If this is true, it represents a dangerous and unnecessary turn in the ever-unsteady relationship between the law and marijuana activists. To whatever extent she may have thought she was effective, she wasn’t. Goodwin asked her whether she ever rolled a joint, she said, “I’ve been rolling joints for days!” in a tone of voice that suggested she was both abjectly lying and terribly uncomfortable about having been caught so easily—and by people who were stoned, at that.

To be honest, I’ve always had a hard time understanding why people like thisIMG_0786

warrant police scrutiny. She’s definitely a public threat. Right.

So the protest continued to Queen’s ParkIMG_0799

and then to another traffic islandIMG_0807

Christensen and Goodwin shared the megaphone, reminding the small crowd—as well as people driving past, honking their horns and cheering support—that Emery was going away for a crime engineered by the U.S. AG’s office, meaning that soverignty issues were in play along with matters of personal rights. Then the anonymous woman somehow got the megaphone. She said a couple of uncertain words before Christensen took it back, none too soon either.

Meanwhile, a pro-Palestinian rally, hundreds strong, marched south. I wondered if the pro-pot organizers felt at all jealous about relative numbers. And then there were all these people walking past in sky-blue T-shirts….

The police would not answer my questions; apparently they realized I’d taken their picture.IMG_0808However, I must say they were not provocative in any way, which as an observer I especially appreciate. But then, no one gave them a reason besides that woman who could well have been a plant.  

At about that point, I decided it was time to take off.  As it happened, I didn’t miss much. Goodwin said he was confronted afterwards while on his own by two cops, threatened with arrest because Goodwin was trying to find out from the anonymous woman whether in fact she was a plant. They let him go, saying they were kind to him because it was “a nice day.” Which it was. However, that was heavy-handed.

(Next time, some notions about the why of all this, and a note about that fourth rally.)


About johnwylam1957

I'm a poet and teacher now living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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