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serve and protect

I am not going to get on a soapbox and talk about G20 and G8 and what a ridiculous amount of time and money and care Toronto is wasting. Security forces pulled in from across the country, closing of streets for motorcades, evacuation of buildings, the uprooting of saplings which might be used as weapons ... it's like having the Olympics, only instead of Shaun White and Jonathan Toews we get Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Angela Merkel. And we never get to see them perform.

No, I am not going to rant about that. I am instead going to share a moment I had the other day, walking through a downtown parkette. It was late afternoon, with a gray sky beginning to lighten. I was inhaling that most wonderful and evocative of smells -- rain on hot pavement -- while I strolled from the St Lawrence market to Queen Street. I did not have an umbrella because I am a straight middle aged casual kind of guy (the who carries an umbrella discussion will have to wait) but it didn't really matter because it was barely raining.

Anyway, the parkette is about an acre of grass and shrubs with one of those old timey wooden bandstands in the middle -- about right for a brass quartet to serenade weekend picnickers, or a couple of hobos to catch a night's sleep. There were no musicians or streeters there when I walked past. Instead, the thing was full of cops. Must have been twenty of them -- a variety of ranks and uniforms crammed under the overhang. They'd come in out of the rain from wherever they had been patrolling. And now they were peering out at the city they were sworn to protect, while the rain dripped around them.

The scene was so ludicrous I had to laugh. How much are we spending on security for this summit? A billion dollars? Something like that. I walked past the bandstand, laughing out loud, wishing I had a camera.

Is there an upside? At the London G20 summit cops charged into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators. That's the picture up there -- a very ugly scene indeed. This kind of brutality is unlikely to happen in Toronto, as long the protesters take advantage of rainy days.


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