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International

Toronto police use tear gas to combat G20 `thugs`

International desk |
Update: 2010-06-26 12:18:43

TORONTO: Toronto police used tear gas and arrested 75 when a violent mob tried to hijack a peaceful protest by some 10,000 people against the G20 summit here Saturday, the city`s police chief said.


"We have never seen this level of wanton criminality on our streets," chief Bill Blair told a press conference hours after the protest, adding police were still scouring the streets fearing more trouble.


Some 10,000 people marched against the G20 summit Saturday demonstrati
Saturday`s arrests bring the number detained in summit-related incidents since mid-June to 107, for various charges including assault, wearing disguises, weapons and immigration violations and three separate bomb plots.


"I`m profoundly disappointed by the vandalism that has taken place, windows have been broken and police cars have been burned," Blair said. "Those responsible will be held accountable."


Canada spent more than a billion dollars to secure this week`s back-to-back G8 and G20 summits, hoping to avoid the serious street battles that marred recent gatherings of these global forums.


Thousands of police reinforcements backed by riot officers on horseback and spotter helicopters were drafted into the city center, much of which is sealed off behind concrete and steel barriers.


"It wasn`t the workers of the world that caused the financial crisis," Sid Ryan of the Ontario Federation of Labor said in a speech. "We don`t want to see a transfer of wealth from the public sector to the private sector."


"The people, united, will never be defeated," steelworkers and their unionized brethren shouted back, placards poking through rips in a tapestry of umbrellas that read: "Long live socialism" and "Scrap the summits."


Their issues include the legitimacy of the G20 itself, and jobs. "We don`t want G20 countries to cut stimulus spending until jobs recover," Jeff Atkinson, spokesman for the Canadian Labor Congress, told AFP.


Greenpeace International Director Kumi Naidoo argued that if G20 countries could spend one trillion dollars to rescue banks in trouble, why not find money to help unemployed workers, for the environment and for social causes.


Student activist Liana Salvador lamented that she was 50,000 dollars in debt to pay for school. "I`m an ordinary student whose parents taught me that knowledge is power, but whose government says education is just expensive."


"Do only the rich deserve to learn?" she demanded. "One billion for education, not fortification."


BDST: 0849 HRS , June 27, 2010
SIS

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