Since yesterday’s field report was from someone other than me, I’m going to keep it going with one from my mom, who’s in Toronto today:
I am glad I had already changed my plans to travel to Kingston, as a result of the rail strike called for Sunday and Monday, because I wouldn’t have been able to get to Oshawa to get the train today anyway. The Go Trains and the subway and the buses stopped running at about 1 pm. No one in, no one out, as my mother used to say.
Things were going along fairly peacefully, and I was following the protest on Twitter. I decided, at shortly after 1 pm, to return to Eaton Centre, at Yonge and Dundas to go to Sears. I went there last night, and bought a skirt. The clerk did not remove the security tag, so I decided to head over to Sears to get the skirt detached from the ink-shedding security tag. Because you just never know when you’ll need to wear your brand new skirt.
All was calm, actually almost deserted, with bunches of security people around but not very many shoppers and strollers, and no police. The Twitter feed told me the demonstration was ‘peacefully’ headed down University toward the security fence, and the Canadian Federation of Labour was keeping everyone in line (no kidding).
So I got the button removed from my skirt, and slowly (I have a very bad leg at the moment) hobbled to the exit. The revolving doors aren’t.
I go out the remaining door and onto Yonge. Ever get that weird feeling something has gone terribly wrong? The streets were filled with people, no cars anywhere, and … no cops. No one seemed to be doing anything too bad, but … I got up Yonge a block to – yes – the Pickle Barrel – and turned back to see what was going on behind me on Yonge toward the security zone.
Only about a gazillion black hooded people rushing – it seemed to me – toward ME. I leapt into the Atrium right beside the Pickle Barrel and stood in the entrance with the security guy. None of the shops were open, but no one seemed too upset, so I did what any good Canadian would do under the circumstances, went down to the food fair and bought a coffee. Fortunately for me, I don’t have a thing for Starbucks.
Almost all the shops were closed, but the Pickle Barrel was open and I could see people having lunch. The music was playing in the food fair and I drank my coffee and wondered how far it was to Winners. Since I wasn’t going anywhere else anyway.
Twitter: Police car on fire (people should be required to say WHERE when they tweet this. They had enough letters)
Twitter: Eaton Centre in lock down (this is less than a block from where I’m sitting)
Twitter: windows are being smashed at Yonge and Dundas (guess where I am)
Twitter: Delta Chelsea is in lock down (about two blocks north on Yonge)
Twitter: second police car on fire (CAN NO ONE tweet DIRECTIONS???)
Twitter: American Apparel store windows smashed (roughly about twenty feet up the road from the Atrium)
The weird thing is I heard nothing. Could hear nothing but the tinkly music and the sounds of staff in all the food fair shops. People buying food from the Thai fast food folks. A & W french fries ordered. The whirl of the juice bar.
I sat in this Blackberry fueled limbo for about half an hour and then – went up the escalator to street level. The street was jammed with people walking north toward Bloor, but no demonstrators. Just – people walking in the middle of the road because there was glass all over the sidewalks. No one seemed particularly upset, and people were taking pictures of each other posed in front of these smashed store fronts.
About ten of the stores I had just walked past were windowless. I didn’t have the heart to look to see if the World’s Biggest Bookstore had been done in, because I was trying to figure out how to cross Yonge to get to my little alley that lead onto Gould Street and the Ryerson University Campus.I could see my little alley but … now I know how obstinate salmon must feel when everyone else is going up the river and I wanted to go down, or across.
Did I mention the bum leg? Next time, I’m taking a stick … although the cops were taking canes away from folks they determined didn’t need them. But that’s another story.
No cops anywhere but thousands of people. I don’t know if they were following these Black Bloc anarchists or what, but the street was packed. So I did what we Canadians do best: clutching my Sears bag and my shoulder purse to my chest, hoisting my fuschia umbrella, smiling gamely, I hobbled out over the glass, stepped down into the street and “Excuse me”d across the street. Ten feet down the little walk way and ta da – I was in the green splendour of Ryerson’s central common. Ten minutes or so of shuffling along with my best impression of “Knee? What knee?” I reached the International Living Learning Centre (am I the only one troubled by the lack of comma?) where no one even knew what was going on.
This must be what tornado aftermath is like. The destruction was horrendous, and yet – it all happened so fast. I see from the twitter feeds that the city is in chaos tonight; but outside my window, looking onto Jarvis, you’d never know the police are chasing the demonstrators and the demonstrators – the few nasty ones – are chasing the police all over the city core.
I sure hope those G20 folks are having a good meeting. They probably didn’t have to go to the Metro all night store, that closed at 7 pm, to get their dinner.
Even if I could have got to Kingston, I couldn’t have, as all transit was shut down until after six and the Bloor and Yonge stations keep opening and then closing.
On the other hand, this was my first experience using Twitter and the Web to get importance information about the situation. Although – I suppose if I had used the information AND my common sense, I wouldn’t have decided to return to get the plastic thingee off my new skirt in the first place.
And that’s me – live – from just off Yonge and Dundas. Over to you, Peter.
love you all
Glad you are not here