In the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

Published: July 2nd 2010
in News » Local

Sammy Katz live on CP24
Pic: screenshot

During last weekend’s G20 Summit in Toronto, many Canadians were understandably glued to their TVs, watching with baited breath. As the ugly situation unfolded at the corner of QueenSt. and Spadina Ave. on Sunday evening, with hundreds of people stranded out in the rain for up to four hours as police corralled them into a corner and seemingly did not know what to do next, many viewers heard the voice of Sammy Katz reporting from the scene for CP24 from his dying cell phone.


The situation was tense and anyone watching at home could not have been anything but noticeably troubled by what had happened to our city, given the vandalism of the day before and the flaming police cars. Now, it seemed like a whole crowd of innocent bystanders was being kept out in the rain for hours – police had already picked Black bloc vandals and other wanted people out of the crowd earlier so why was everyone else still being held without explanation?


Perhaps the one bright spot in all the confusion was CP24’s coverage, which included a lengthy conversation with Katz, the 23-year old managing director of the Canadian Network for Israel Affairs. In fact, if it hadn’t been for his citizen reporting, which led to CP24 calling city officials and catalyzing the crowd’s eventual release, there is no telling how long the standoff would have persisted for.


“I still don’t believe that Sunday actually happened. People were calling me the G20 hero on Twitter and stuff like that. I’m not a hero. I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. It was very surreal,” Katz said.


He spoke to Shalom Life on Monday, the day after his ordeal, telling the story of how he came to be among those in the Queen and Spadina crowd.  It all began on Saturday, when Katz decided to head down to the G20 Summit to take photos of the protests, a potential once in a lifetime opportunity. He was witness to Black Bloc vandalism, including the lighting of a flair at Queen and Spadina to distract police as vandals headed east on Queen “rampaging through the streets.”


“I was just following them taking pictures really just for myself,” he recalled. He followed the Black Bloc until Queen’s Park, where they took off their black clothes and blended back into the crowd. He described them as young kids smashing windows. “There was one girl who I saw smash at least 20 windows.”


He witnessed riot police closing off Queen’s Park after 45 minutes of confrontation. At that point, it was not possible to differentiate between legitimate protesters, bystanders and the Black Bloc.


His experience on Sunday was wholly unlike Saturday. The atmosphere was “as if you’re waiting for a bomb to explode.”


“Police didn’t really know what to do at this point. People were really upset that they weren’t able to control better the crowd on Saturday. Personally, I think they did a great job. The police car which they lit on fire, that police car was right beside the Toronto stock exchange. A police car burning to the ground is much better than watching the stock exchange burning to the ground.”


Related articles: (G20, G-20, Sammy Katz, Black Bloc, explosives)

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