I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, but if the open mic portion of the Hindsight’s G20/20 exhibit goes ahead today, here is what I would say:
There is a town in Europe that at one time as a tourist attraction, would put on a life-size chess game once a year. The part of the chess pieces would be played by living people dressed in costumes, white or black, appropriate to the piece. The chess board was appropriately large, of course. The actual chess game however was a reenactment of a game from a few hundred years ago, so the outcome was predetermined. There would be no surprises, everyone knew what they were supposed to do, and were constrained by moves hundreds of years old. In a sense, everyone was a pawn.
I have felt in the past that protest marches in Canada have often been like that; everyone knew their role, invisible boundaries and unwritten rules would be observed, whether by protesters or police, and at the end of protest nothing would have really changed.
The impact G20 protests are helping to change that, not because of the police brutality, or the childish actions of the so-called Black Block, but because of the overwhelming presence protesters and observers, armed with cameras and video recorders, many linked to social networks. Citizen journalists all, who turned the surveillance society back on itself, as the authorities ended up under the microscope of thousands of lenses. The police have lost the advantage of plausible deniability; it is almost impossible for them to brutalize and then claim it never happened.
The lens is a more powerful weapon in the long run than teargas, billy clubs or bullets, whether rubber or lead. When it comes to the camera, we have the right to bear arms, and thus we need to be “packing heat” every time we step outside our homes.
I’ll finish by co-opting a slogan from the NRA: You can have my camera when you pry it from my cold dead hands.