Oscar Alvarado

Oscar Alvarado (The Coalition for Gun Control): Oscar is a dual citizen of Canada and Panama whose academic, professional and volunteer work has taken him to all continents. He is fluent in English, Spanish and French. After receiving his BA in Biomedical Science and Economics from McGill University, Oscar spent a year in Kazakhstan as an English teacher with the United Nations Volunteers. He then earned an MA in Environmental Security from the UN University for Peace in Costa Rica. Prior to his AP fellowship, Oscar also interned at the Security Governance / Counter-Terrorism Laboratory of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) in Turin, Italy.



Whose Streets.. Our Streets?

06 Jul

All I want is for this to be just another account of the peace, confusion and chaos that occurred in reaction to the G20 Summit in Toronto on June 26/27. As a Human Rights Monitor with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, I was present at several gatherings throughout the weekend, which varied from calm to hectic and beyond. The wide spectrum of social advocacy, in all its forms, was fully displayed and I dedicate this to all the victims of some of the violence that unfortunately occurred.

For all pictures, please visit: Fellow Oscar’s Flickr Set

THE PEACE – Friday (June 25)

The whole week leading up to the Summit was filled with peaceful protests, marches, rallies and gatherings all over Toronto. The first one I observed and attended was a march for Gender Justice.

From my friend’s balcony, we saw the crowd slowly make its way along College St towards Queen’s Park. The mood of the crowd was festive, emotional and vocal! Naturally, there was a police presence but it was mostly passive and proportional to the crowd (although I did receive a lot of cold stares for taking pictures of them). This mood, amongst both protesters and police, would continue until Saturday afternoon.

THE CHAOS – Saturday (June 26)

My first shift as a Human Rights Monitor was interesting and fairly relaxed. So many diverse causes were being represented and no one was letting the rain ruin the atmosphere.

Once my shift ended, I headed to my friend’s roof for BBQ. There we met 2 undercover police officers who would remain there with us as events on the streets unfolded throughout the day. As a peaceful rally marched through their designated route, a group who had blended in with everyone else splintered off and began a path of destruction (where not even Tim Horton’s was spared). Using Black Bloc tactics they set several police cars on fire, vandalized countless ‘symbols of capitalism’ and looted shops all along Queen St W, Yonge St and College St. Knowing that the other peaceful rallies would be ending at Queen’s Park, these anarchists changed back into plain clothes and joined them there.

When I arrived at Queen’s Park at around 6pm, the scene was that of protesters scattered on the lawn, passively taking advantage of their right to peaceful assembly. At around 7pm, for reasons still unknown and despite Queen’s Park being the designated protest area, the riot police began encroaching on protesters and arresting individuals.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XRF86mhSm4

Eventually police resorted to force as some protesters began to throw objects, despite the pleas of protesters for them to stop. After several hours, the group had effectively been dispersed from Queen’s Park and had made its way to Bloor St W and then down Yonge St until Dundas Square. On my way home, I was randomly and illegally searched by police.

THE REACTION – Sunday (June 27)

The day after, the tension in the air was palpable. The police was put on high alert, monitors were given extra safety measures and protesters were advised not to gather in large groups. Inevitably, a large peaceful gathering eventually made its way to the intersection of Queen St W and Spadina Ave. After a rendition of Oh Canada!, the riot police barricaded the intersection and prohibited people from leaving. The result was over 200 people being detained in the cold rain for 4 hours for breaching the peace. At least some of us had fun though.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gq02ckqKX7Q

In the end, the G8/G20 Summit cost over $1.2billion and resulted in 900 people being arrested, a new record for Canada. As a neutral observer, I recognize the limits of my objectivity but in doing so, I end my account here without any commentary, opinion or judgments.

Posted By Oscar Alvarado

Posted Jul 6th, 2010

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