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Jun 26, 2010     By  David Silverberg - 8 comments

article imageToronto G20 protest turns violent, city venues in lockdown

By David Silverberg.
Toronto - What started as a large peaceful protest in downtown Toronto to rally against the G20 summit has suddenly turned violent. Police cars have been set ablaze, protesters hurled bricks and golf balls at windows and many Toronto venues are on lockdown.
A portion of the G20 summit protesters in Toronto clashed with police Saturday afternoon, forcing Toronto Police to take control of downtown Toronto.
At King and Bay streets, a Toronto Police vehicle has been set on fire. Along Yonge Street, various stores -- such as American Apparel and the Zanzibar strip club -- have had their windows broken by thrown objects. Looting has also been reported along Yonge Street.
The security perimeter on Front Street has not been compromised, Toronto Police say.
Black-clad protesters have dispersed across Toronto, wreaking havoc on a wide range of Toronto sites. The Yonge and College streets area are facing impacting damage; news report say protesters are also moving to University and College streets.
Police are reportedly using tear gas right now at the University and College area, the Globe & Mail reports. One Globe reporter recently liveblogged: "Huge rubber bullet shot at cluster of photographers and me, missed but close."
On CBC News, Toronto Police denied using any tear gas.
The violent protest has forced Toronto attractions to shut their doors. The Eaton Centre, the Delta Chelsea Hotel, the Sheraton Hotel and the subway system between Bloor and St. George stations have been shut down. Hospitals, including Toronto General and Sick Kids', have also locked their doors. There is no streetcar service along College, Queen and Dundas streets. GO Transit is not coming into Toronto.
Also, police headquarters at 40 College Street is on lockdown.
As CTV reported: "While protest organizers promised a family-friendly demonstration, a splinter group calling itself the 'Get off the Fence contingent' has announced plans to break away from the main group and challenge the heavy security cordon around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where the G20 summit will begin Saturday afternoon."
A common tactic for the so-called Black Bloc protesters includes smashing windows of banks or retail outlets, and then scampering back to their contingent in the larger crowd. Because they wear similar clothing, and balaclavas to cover their faces, police and media have difficulty identifying the suspects.
Toronto's EMS confirms three people have been injured in the protests.
It is unclear how many protesters have engaged in violent demonstrations. CP24 estimates the Yonge and College area have amassed around 400 protesters, although the news TV reporters couldn't confirm how many of those protesters are actively hurling objects at windows or confronting police.
"This is not protest, this is simply crime," Mayor David Miller told media. "This is having an impact on streets of Toronto, and this is not acceptable...People should stay calm and support efforts of Toronto Police including all of their allies."
President Obama, Prime Minister Harper and other heads of state are gathering at the Metro Convention Centre for this weekend's G20 summit.
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