Toronto has a new kind of sight-seer this afternoon: the riot tourist. At about 5 this afternoon, Yonge Street, which was closed to traffic, was absolutely filled with people, most of them dressed as though out shopping on a Saturday afternoon, taking photographs of all the smashed windows.
Protestors had dug bricks out of the median at Yonge and College streets and heaved them through the windows of Tim Hortons in College Park, and also thrown through that window the arm of a mannequin they had taken from American Apparel, further down Yonge. A woman handed her camera to someone else and then went and stood in front of the gaping window of Timmie’s, making a peace sign as the friend took her photo in front of the destruction. There were no protestors or police about, just gawkers.
Everywhere the windows are smashed: Pizza Pizza, American Apparel, Zanzibar strip club, De Boer’s, Quiznos Subs, the ironically named Urban Brick. The Bell store in College park went in for some particularly virulent destruction. There is a strange silence on Toronto’s main boulevard, and a kind of weird glee, or awe, in the tone of the thousands who are milling about.
“I am by the smashed Tim Hortons,” one young man said to a friend on the phone, explaining where he was. Everyone, these days, has a camera, and everyone was taking pictures: the city is filled with thousands of citizen journalists chronicling the destruction.
One guy stopped to take a picture of the truck-sized hole in the front of the TD Bank on College Street, while a friend went in to take money out. The machine was functioning just fine. I asked him why everyone was taking pictures.
“This is Toronto, man,” he replied. This is the first time anything has happened here in years. This is good. We need stuff like this.” Why we should need stuff like this was not made clear. The owner of the Second Cup which sublets from the Alterna credit union, on Bay and College Streets, had taped a sign in his window noting, “Independently Owned, Uniquely Canadian,” but to no avail: the protestors had thrown a brick through the window anyway.