Weapons of Mass Distraction

Taking a page from the Israeli Defence Force, the Toronto Police held an underwhelming press conference to display some of the “weapons” seized from the “protesters” swept up in the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. Yes, even larger than the October Crisis.

The items, which were laid out on several tables in the lobby of Toronto Police headquarters, include gas masks, cans of spray paint, a replica gun, crowbars, saws, pocket knives, a staple gun, a drill, a baseball bat, a slingshot, chains, bear spray, dog repellent, handcuffs, chain-link body armour and bows and arrows. Some of the arrows had their pointy ends covered with fabric, which officers said were designed to be dipped in a flammable liquid and lit ablaze.

However, the “weapons” included items not normally considered dangerous, including skateboard and bicycle helmets, bandanas, golf balls, tennis balls, bamboo poles, goggles, rope, plastic tubes and walkie talkies. The police also laid out several notebooks and shields depicting red clenched fists, a resistance symbol.

900+ people were taken in over the weekend – more than a few of them journalists and passersby in the wrong place at the wrong time. For example, Brian Barrett:

However, police also included objects taken from a Whitby, Ont., man who was heading to a role playing fantasy game in Centennial Park Saturday morning. As was reported by the Globe on Saturday, Brian Barrett, 25, was stopped at Union Station for wearing chain mail and carrying a bag with an archery bow, shield and graphite swords. His jousting gear was seized by police, but was on display Tuesday, even though he was not charged and police told a Globe reporter it was a case of bad timing.

Now that’s some dry understatement. There was also a chainsaw and crossbow displayed that police also admitted were not G20 related. As for the rest…we, the public, have no way of knowing whether, say, the baseball bat was intended to be used during the demonstrations or to be used at, you know, a baseball game (I hear those happen on weekends in Toronto sometimes). What we do know is, as self-defeating and self-indulgent as I believe the Black Bloc tactics are, they attacked property with makeshift weapons and didn’t directly assault officers. Try as the might to provoke them.

The governments of Canada, Ontario, and Toronto have a lot of explaining to do.