Bored Canadians find excitement at G20 protest rallies

A protester kicks a police car

Toronto, ON — Hundreds of Canadians bored with their dreary lives got a massive shot of adrenaline and excitement by deliberately getting themselves tangled in rallies aimed at destabilizing the G-20 Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre over the weekend.

“I saw a police car burning up,” said Jonny Marwood, 17. “That was wicked cool, man.”

Marwood was referring to a string of incidents that occurred Friday as world leaders were arriving for the Summit. Protesters frustrated by the tight security surrounding the event decided to unleash their anger at businesses in the city’s downtown core. Dozens of establishments, mostly banks and Starbucks coffee shops, were vandalized and looted, and several police cars were smashed and set on fire. The incidents quickly drew throngs of curious onlookers.

“As soon as I saw the riots on TV, I got down there fast as I can to get in on the action,” said Regis McRae, 35. “It’s either that, or afternoon Scrabble with Grandpa. It was a no-brainer for me.”

For some, the rallies offered opportunities for instant YouTube fame.

“I wanted to do something crazy and put it on YouTube,” said Graeme Covind, 16. “So me and my friend brought a video camera, and he filmed me kicking a mailbox.” Covind said his G20 protest clip has already garnered thousands of views.

Unfortunately for some thrill seekers, rubbernecking at the protest rallies resulted in temporary detention, and in some worse cases, criminal charges. Imelda Scranton, 28, was part of a crowd of onlookers that got corraled in with hardcore protesters attempting one final act of defiance Sunday night near the city’s Chinatown district. Police in full riot gear circled the group and held them immobilized for hours in the pouring rain.

Scranton, a part-time worker at a bowling alley, said she doesn’t regret being in the wrong place at the wrong time. “It’s definitely one of those experiences that you get to embellish and tell people about,” she says. “It gives your life some sort of meaning and relevance. I can’t wait to tell my grand kids about that night I got beat up by cops in the middle of a hurricane.”

In a press conference Monday, Toronto police chief Bill Blair said he found it “regrettable that some innocent bystanders got caught in with the bad seeds.”

“It wouldn’t have come to this if people just stayed home instead of coming out to these things like it’s Disneyland or something. You could have watched the protests on TV,” Blair added.

The G20 Summit itself, which ended with a promise from all participating world leaders to cut their deficits in half by 2013, was largely ignored by the media for the most part. For instance, during the Summit’s closing ceremony, CNN was running a story on Lady Gaga’s bus driver instead.

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