I haven’t seen any footage of today’s protest in Ottawa. Apparently it was largely peaceful, but marred (as these vents so often are) by an aggressive and idiotic few:
Police officers in riot gear pushed back a thick crowd of anti-war activists, some of whom were shouting at the security forces and trying to jostle them with the sticks of their placards. At least three protesters were pushed down onto the ground and arrested as CBC Newsworld television cameras recorded the action.
Some police in riot gear could be seen pulling on gas masks, suggesting that they were ready to release gas to control the crowd.
Hasn’t the last 100 years demonstrated that violent protest is a fool’s errand? Think of history’s most effective protests–they were all non-violent. I’m not talking about rebellion or revolution here–I’m talking about a mob getting hostile and destructive. As we’ve seen everywhere on the globe, hostile and destructive mobs get put down, whereas peaceful ones are effective.
I’m reminded of the overblown pepper-spray incident at the APEC conference at UBC in 1997. The event was mismanaged, and the police and government deserve the blame. However, I’ve seen the footage from the front lines. The demonstrators were pushing their way through a roadblock, and the police acted correctly. The lesson? In a democracy, violence is an ineffective method of rendering social change.