06 July 2010

Reflections on the G20 shenanigans: anarchist flakes, dumb cops and isolated politicians

We might make allowances for the vandals in black who performed their now clichéd window-smashing gig at the G20 Summit. They are, after all, young and may eventually grow up and leave their macho tomfoolery behind. The police aren't so easy to forgive. They are adults and adults with a very special responsibility.

The "anarchists" show up at every conference of international leaders and run out the same stupid routine: don face masks, smash property, hide in the crowd. And they do all this in front of hundreds of officers. Yet every time it seems the police are surprised. Are they incapable of learning?

The answer seems to be no. So allow a mere layman to offer a suggestion or two. To begin with, they might rethink the whole idea of erecting barricades, decking themselves out in armour, and arraying themselves in serried ranks against the people. In other words, they might behave more like police and less like military. They should have officers in conventional police uniforms - without the guns - mixing with the crowds. Let the demonstrators and the police look each other in the eye and recognize each other as fellow humans and fellow citizens. Have a chat, for heaven's sake, get in the spirit of peaceful protest.

With police in the crowd, vandals would have nowhere to hide. How awkward for them. Indeed, if the police and the demonstrators had some rapport going, some demonstrators at least might feel inclined to help a policeman who was wrestling with a juvenile delinquent in black. There is certainly no incentive to help when the police display themselves as an alien force, a force intent on intimidation.

The politicians could do their bit as well. Instead of hiding behind the barricades, they might try mixing with the crowds a little. They might also try mediating between the police and the demonstrators before the event to try for a civilized atmosphere. That would include a discussion about how to handle the miscreants whose mode of expression is smashing things. And then of course they might use good sense and not hold an event like this in the middle of a large city.

And let's not excuse the demonstrators from responsibility. Can they not at least shame the strutting, black-clad fools in their midst into a semblance of mature behaviour? The legitimate messages of the constructive majority are being seriously undermined by the mindlessly violent actions of a very few, so they have a great deal to gain by leashing them. Or just turning them over to the cops.

The arranging of this G20 was a fiasco. Terrible choice of location. Ridiculously expensive. Simple-minded approach to security. South Korea can hardly do worse in November.

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