G20: one year later
While the streets of Toronto are no longer filled with riot police and protestors, for many, the effects of last year’s G20 summit are still all too tangible.
So on Sunday, June 26, to mark the one-year anniversary of the G20, members of the Kitchener Waterloo Community Support group gathered in the Waterloo public square to remind the public that the impact of the summit and the charges and arrests that came out of it are still being felt, particularly by members of the KW community.
“The main thing for today is just to let people around here know that people in this community are still affected by [the G20],” said Laura MacDonald, one of the event’s organizers.
“It’s still going on, they’re still looking at another year or more for the legal process, so it’s really dragging out a lot and they have really restrictive bail conditions that prevent them from talking to their friends, they’re not allowed to be here because it’s a public demonstration.”
Sunday’s event featured live music, as well as the sale of food, books and buttons, aimed at raising money and awareness for the KW residents who still face charges.
According to MacDonald, there are still about six people from KW facing serious conspiracy charges, out of the approximately 25 local activists who were arrested at the summit.
According to Wilfrid Laurier University graduate Janice Lee, who was on the streets of Toronto during the protests, it is important to put faces and personalities to those who are still facing charges.
“I think what people misunderstand is that it wasn’t just, as the media paints it, these thugs or hardcore activists,” she said. “I would call them concerned community members. These are people that you know. Especially in Kitchener-Waterloo, these are people that went to Laurier, these are people that went to UW, they volunteer, they’re good community members, who were just trampled over.”
While bail restrictions kept most of the KW residents who are facing charges from attending Sunday’s event, Sterling Stutz was the lone co-accused who was able to be there.
Stutz, a third-year student at Laurier was arrested in Toronto on June 26, 2010 and after spending 10 days in jail was released into the custody of her parents and placed on house arrest.
She eventually got her house arrest varied, however, was living in Toronto and unable to return to Laurier and had to spend the past year as a visiting student at the University of Toronto.
Bail restrictions also prevent Stutz from associtating with her co-accused.
“Every thing that’s going on is really difficult to deal with but it’s also making us stronger,” she said. “I miss my friends that I can’t talk to, best friends, roommates, I can’t talk to them right now but there will be a time when I can and it’ll be awesome, and it’ll be ok until then.”
Stutz will be able to return to WLU this January.
While the accused still await trials and still deal with legal fees, according to Lee, the activists do not want to dwell on what happened in Toronto last June.
“We don’t want to just hold onto all this anger,” she said. “We’re kind of over the sense of outrage I think, well maybe not completely, but we’re trying to move forward.”
According to MacDonald, the event received a generally positive reaction from the public.
“It’s been a pretty good response, we’ve had one person who saw our signs and came out on his own and brought his own sign,” she said.
“Everybody’s been really supportive, but we’re not really trying to pull people in today, today is mostly about context.”