Friday, 14 October 2011

G20 memories loom on eve of Occupy Toronto protests,

Response to an article by: Brendan Kennedy Staff Reporter, Toronto Star,
Thursday, October 13, 2011,

If this occupation turns violent, will Torontonians mimic the fine work done by Vancouverites who took more than one million photos and 1,000 hours of video of their Stanley Cup rioters? Thankfully, Police were able to regain control of both riots before someone was seriously injured or killed but it was a disgusting scene that unfolded for all to see in Vancouver, and for Toronto, too. But what made Vancouver's Stanley Cup riot unique was citizen response! Did West Coast social media evolve to create community in response to Toronto's G20 riot? Regardless, the future is here!

While civil libertarians may wail, 'there’s nothing illegal about being in the streets', it's just not the same when you are trying to set a Police cruiser on fire! Seeing what Vancouver witnessed, should it really surprise when it reminds taxpayers of 'alleged' peaceful G20 protesters with various weapons our combined Police forces confiscated.

G20 violence left riot organizers with a black eye as taxpayers clamored to make themselves heard; to provide a visible reminder to hooligans that they will be held accountable for their actions after a post-riot Angus Reid poll told us that 3 of 4 Torontonians and 2 of 3 Canadians believed police treatment of protesters during the summit was justified. The Stanley Cup riots touched a raw nerve in Vancouver, too when 19 of every 20 residents wanted the troublemakers prosecuted to the full extent of the law, according to another poll by Angus Reid.
For Vancouver Police; armed with this volume of information, it is clear that social media; including Twitter and Facebook have been instrumental in identifying many rioters with pages such as Facebook riot pics having posted photos of people smashing windows, tipping over urinals and brawling with police. Photographs and video footage have been posted by the public, ranging from senior citizens to high school students leaving messages on these pages; some by the perpetrators themselves. While there may be some who think an oppressive Big Brother eye is watching us, the fact remains that social media users give out the minutiae of their lives for free on Twitter and Facebook.

Is the trend of people on Twitter and Facebook calling on the public to identify criminals in the Vancouver riot simply an attempt by the community of West Coast social media enthusiasts to embrace a new role in citizen journalism, with the explicit intention of identifying people to create a sense of public safety? Some Vancouver rioters are receiving punishment far worse than anything the courts might dole out for their crimes. Outed by their own postings, their friends and even their parents, some of the young men involved in Vancouver’s Stanley Cup riot found it necessary to turn themselves in to police.

Given how social media is integrated into people's lives, many of the individuals identified during the Vancouver riots will not have the option of simply erasing their Facebook and Twitter accounts in order to avoid public disclosure. These tools are so much a part of daily life now that some can no longer separate their private lives from their public lives online. Increasingly, for the younger generation, not having a life online is akin to not having a social life. Over the last decade, notions of privacy have been eroded through social media, and the Vancouver riots show the effects of living in a social media world.

Torontonians mimic Vancouverites with large volume image taking of a gang of hooligans using social media should Occupy Toronto turn violent, the likes of which invaded sleepy Toronto during G20?


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