Montebello, Quebec - There's an incredible number of citizen journalists roaming around working on their YouTube reports here among the 1,500 folks demonstrating.
Too bad the RCMP guarding the Security and Prosperty Partnership summit don't broadcast their unedited footage on the Net, too. Then we'd really get the full picture.
As it is, there are parallel protests in front of the luxury cedar chateau. The Council of Canadians plan is to march to the gates of the resort, present a petition, then retreat back to the park for speeches. Yeah, like that's going to happen. Folks have been hearing speeches all weekend.
So, inevitably, a throng of protestors stay behind, the stench of vinegar- and lemon-juice-soaked hankies wafting in the air; we now own the only throughway in and out of town.
Quebec police jostle us something fierce when we opt to stay. Right off, someone's managed to put a badass cartoon of Bush, Calderón, and Harper peeing on the people way up top the fence to the delight of all. No harm here.
Then another demonstrator tapes an upside-down American flag to a lamppost and has trouble sparking it until someone throws him a can of aerosol deodorant. Dude, you gotta douse that flag beforehand with lighter fluid.
Ultimately, we get whacked with a burst of pepper spray to make way for RCMP riot police shields. Five officers are supposedly injured in the pushing and shoving, but from my vantage point directly in front of them I counted several keeling over from dehydration.
I guess we're responsible because they had to wear all that gear.
Having survived a Slipknot mosh pit, I find this modest demo not even close to a riot. And bouncers at metal concerts do a better job of crowd control.
Late in the afternoon, having recovered from the pepper spray, a dozen 110-pound anarchists make another valiant effort to form a human battering ram to symbolically smash the police line.
Instead, they're like grade schoolers playing a game of Red Rover. Repelled, the police fire a small shotgun-shell-size canister of tear gas. But everyone is prepared and barely moves. Several more canisters go off. I stroll further down the highway and turn around to see a concert fog of tear gas rising in the air. It's an improvement from the 2,400 canisters unloaded at the summit in Quebec City in 2001, but had the police simply allowed us to party protest in the street until tired, they wouldn't have had to use any.
When an anarchist, or maybe agent provocateur, throws a rock directly over my head, dinging the helmeted cop in front of me, we all turned to the Mad Max-garbed fellow and belittle him with "Peaceful protest." And he skulks away.
The Black Bloc doesn't get it: tossing tomatoes, rocks and cueballs may make for a good time, but versus pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets are a mockery. Who's leading their effort anyway? No true anarchist would be playing as much to the media as this group in their brazen but stupidly unsuccessful attempt to disrupt.
We own the streets. Leave it at that. As I say, anyone who's been in a mosh pit could easily have handled Montebello. And would've had an equally good time, if not better.