Posted July 1, 2015
By: Hans Mathias Moeller
The following blog post is an excerpt from our recently published special report, Toronto Pan American Games 2015: Assessment of the Physical Threat Environment. This report examines the risks from protests, social unrest, natural hazards, terrorism, and other potential threats to the Games.
With the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games (Pan Am Games) only a few weeks away, organizations that may be sponsoring or sending participants to the Games need to be aware of the physical threat environment surrounding the event. In our first special report post, we provided a high level overview of the Games’ vulnerability to terrorist attacks. In this post, we review the potential threats to the Games from protestors and groups with social grievances.
The Public Safety Canada Government Centre (GOC) received reports on more than 160 protests between May 2014 and March 2015, the majority of which were environmentally motivated. The most recent social unrest event to occur in Toronto was rioting during the 2010 G-20 meeting. Demonstrations in Canada related to social causes are typically peaceful, but occasionally result in clashes between police and protestors. In particular, dynamic protests organized by anti-capitalists and black bloc anarchist groups during high-level economic meetings hosting heads of states or multinational corporations. Large events like the Games are attractive to activists seeking media attention for local and national grievances.
Visitors to the Pan Am Games should be aware that protest activities are generally concentrated to a few locations in downtown Toronto, including City Hall, Nathan Phillips Square, and Yonge-Dundas Square. The most disruptive protests tend to occur in and around the Yonge and Dundas intersection, where protesters occasionally block traffic.
Cyveillance has identified at least one protest that will occur during the Games; a counter-protest by the Jewish Defense League against Al-Quds Day. This is scheduled to take place in front of the U.S. Consulate on July 11. In addition, a Canadian anti-capitalist group is planning a demonstration during the Pan American Economic and Climate Summit on July 8. Protest material suggests that over 900 activists are planning to attend the event, which will be followed by a march against corporations along Bay Street in the center of Toronto’s financial district. There is no indication that this particular event will extend into, or impact, the Pan Am Games.
While Toronto is generally considered a safe city, those attending the Games should be aware of their surroundings and look out for early indications and warnings related to physical threats.
Contact us to request a copy of the special report, Toronto Pan American Games 2015: Assessment of the Physical Threat Environment. Be sure to listen to our webinar on the Games featuring two of our expert analysts.