As always, police provocation may well have played a role in isolated acts of vandalism. The patrol car, torched by three or four individuals, was done in full view of a whole phalanx of riot policemen who stood idly by at the intersection. “Backup! Put your batons down”, shouted the attending police captain to the riot squad. No attempt was made to arrest the perpetrators. Fire extinguishers possessed by the police were not deployed. The Toronto Fire Department, which can respond to any downtown emergency within minutes, did not arrive for over an hour as camera teams gathered from all the networks.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up