Monday, June 21st, 2010
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Jayme Poisson, Toronto Star
June 21, 2010
They were the first out of the gate, the first to occupy an Esso, and the first to disperse. Welcome to protesting G20-style.
About 100 protesters briefly occupied an Esso gas station and convenience store at Dundas and Church Sts. Monday afternoon in the first major protest of the G20 summit.
Some came with bandanas covering their faces. Others carried signs that read “Fake lake or human rights.” Most had a legal aid phone number scribbled across their forearms in case of arrest.
The main organizers, members of a Guelph-based anti-poverty group called Sense of Security, had vowed to “take a piece of property” in Toronto’s downtown core in an attempt to bring attention to lack of housing for the poor.
But their plans were stymied when a squad of about 50 police officers, many on bikes, redirected their march at Sherbourne and Dundas Sts.
While the Esso wasn’t their first choice, “we have to go with what we’ve got,” said Julian Ichim, of the on-the-fly venue change. He would not divulge what building the group had initially planned to occupy.
“Corporations like Esso have caused irreparable damage all over the world,” shouted Ichim, referring to Esso’s parent company, ExxonMobil. “There is a lack of housing. This is our housing now.”
But it wasn’t their house for long. The protesters congregated in the gas station’s convenience store for all of about 10 minutes, then began heading north along Yonge St.
“This is what democracy looks like,” they chanted. “That is what a police state looks like,” they added, pointing to a growing number of police officers surrounding them from all sides.