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Police Thwart Effort to Shut Down Toronto Financial District

jim writes: "Police thwart initial effort by protest to shut down Toronto's financial area


TORONTO (CP) - Police said they seized the materials for making Molotov
cocktails and arrested at least a dozen people early Tuesday as they sought to
stop a plan by anti-poverty protesters to shut down the city's financial

Several hundred police officers holding batons and body shields made a human
wall to block protesters at several intersections throughout the city. The
demonstration, organized by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, appeared to
have failed in its objective as workers trickled into office buildings for 9
a.m. start times.

"We've got the (financial) area under control," said Sgt. Jim Muscat.

The coalition said it was trying to cause an economic disruption in order to
protest the policies of the provincial government, led by Conservative Premier
Mike Harris.

Police did not immediately release details, but early reports indicated at
least a dozen people were arrested Tuesday morning, more than an hour ahead of
the 7 a.m. start time for the demonstration.

Police Chief Julian Fantino said it was obvious that those arrested weren't
preparing for a peaceful protest.

He said police seized sticks, rocks and other objects that show protesters
"clearly intended to attack our police officers and our horses."

Hundreds of demonstrators, some from as far away as Texas, broke off into
several groups trying to find a way past the barriers in the hopes of causing a
Bay Street, the city's main financial district.

There were several scuffles between protesters and police.

Police seized pieces of two-by-fours with metal wing nuts in the ends, chunks
of concrete, Molotov cocktail equipment and a large bag full of gas masks.

Many protesters, who turned out despite periods of heavy rain, chanted. "This
is what democracy looks like."

Some carried anti-government placards while others beat on drums. One person
was seen burning an American flag.

Messages were written in red spray paint on building walls and sidewalks.

Scrawled on a wall of the historic Royal York Hotel was the slogan: No War But
The Class War. Another read: Today the Street, Tomorrow?

It appeared protesters also used roadways to wreak havoc on the financial

Several slow moving vehicles lead a long stretch of traffic during the morning
rush hour on the Don Valley Parkway, an expressway leading into the downtown

Organizers said the goal was to cause economic disruption and draw attention
to the policies of the Conservative government, which they allege is killing
the poor, workers and aboriginals.

"The Tory government has been implementing policies for the last six years
that have nothing to do with protecting the people of Ontario and everything to
do with making sure the business class gets everything that they need," said
march organizer Sarah Blackstock.

A rally, organized by the same coalition, at the Ontario legislature two years
ago turned into a riot when protesters and police clashed."