Thousands riot at G-20 summit in Toronto (Second Lead)June 27th, 2010 - 7:40 pm ICT by IANS
By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, June 27 (IANS) Thousands of protesters rampaged through Canada’s financial capital, unleashing an unprecedented fury of violence as world leaders, including Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, gathered here for the G-20 summit Saturday.
By Sunday morning, over 400 protesters were arrested as authorities expected more violence on the second of the two-day summit.
Toronto, also country’s largest city, resembled a police state early Sunday, with security personnel everywhere and city crews cleaning up debris from Saturday’s mayhem.
Four police cruisers were set on fire, storefronts smashed, windowpanes sprayed with anti-police and anti-G-20 slogans as more than 10,000 protesters came out on the streets to oppose the summit attended by leaders of the world’s most important nations.
The rioters even didn’t spare the city police headquarters as riot-geared security forces at many places battled protesters. For the first time in Toronto’s history, the police used teargas in their battles with the protestors.
Banks and major stores in and around Yonge Street bore the brunt of the rioting even as 19,000 security personnel had been deployed to keep peace during the summit.
Toronto’s Eaton Centre - its most famous mall and tourist attraction in downtown - was shut down as store keepers and shoppers ran for safety.
Policemen on bicycles could be seen urging people via loudspeakers to run for safety from the rioters.
The Hudson’s Bay Company, which is the world’s oldest registered corporate, was also vandalised, as was Scotiabank where protesters sprayed ‘Class War’.
As violence increased and smoke from the burning vehicles and smashed stores thickened, underground trains, street cars and the major Gardiner Expressway stopped operations.
Toronto police chief Bill Blair said: “It is very regrettable that such vandalism and violence could not be prevented. I want to assure you that the persons responsible will be held accountable.”
Calling the rioters “thugs”, city mayor David Miller said: “We have thousands of people peacefully asserting their democratic right to speak up, and a small, relatively small small group, probably a few hundreds, people who seem mostly to be not from Toronto, commit deliberate acts violence.”
A spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose government has come under severe criticism for spending $1.2 billion on G-8/G-20 summits, said “the thugs that prompted violence earlier today represent in no way, shape or form the Canadian way of life”.
(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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