“The Big Smoke” Screen: Toronto’s G20 Protests, Police Brutality, and the Unaccountability of Public Officials


  • Ian Hussey York University
  • Patrice LeClerc St. Lawrence University




Anarchism, G8, G20, police brutality, social movements


The G8 and G20 summits took place in Huntsville and Toronto, Ontario, Canada on 25-26 and 26-27 June 2010 respectively. Summits such as these often have large budgets attached to them and attract protests from people with various political leanings deploying a diversity of tactics, and these particular summits were no exception. In this article, we contrast official and media accounts of the protest and the policing of the events with a narrative grounded in protestors’ experience, in an attempt to complicate present popular understandings of these protests. In the discussion section of the article we provide theoretical and analytic insights into what the events of last summer can tell us about organizing and policing dissent. Le sommets du G8 et du G20 se sont tenus à Huntsville et Toronto, Ontario, Canada le 25-26 et 26-27 juin 2010 respectivement. Les sommets comme ceux-ci ont généralement des budgets importants et attirent des manifestations organisées par des individus avec des tendances politiques multiples, utilisant des stratégies diverses. Ces sommets ne font pas exception. Dans cet article, nous contrastons les descriptions des manifestations et du comportement de la police par les sources officielles et les médias, avec les récits issus de l’expérience des manifestants, dans un souci de complexifier la compréhension populaire des ces manifestations. Nous offrons des contributions théoriques et analytiques pour comprendre ce que les événements de l’été dernier peuvent nous dire à propos de l’organisation et le contrôle de la contestation.

Author Biographies

Ian Hussey, York University

Ian Hussey is a PhD Candidate in Sociology at York University. His dissertation is an institutional ethnography of the postcolonial politics of fair trade and market-driven development. He has also written about fair trade in Canada in the Journal of Business Ethics with Darryl Reed, Bob Thomson, and JF Lemay.

Patrice LeClerc, St. Lawrence University

Patrice LeClerc is Associate Professor of Sociology at St. Lawrence University. She writes about comparative social movements and social policy in the United States, Canada and Quebec; her current work focuses on nationalism.






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