Human roadblock

May 11, 2009

I was relaxing Sunday evening killing zombies on the Xbox, when I got a news alert on my blackberry stating Tamil protesters were blocking two lanes of traffic on the Gardiner Expressway.  The Gardiner is a major freeway that goes through downtown Toronto. We don’t often see big protests or demonstrations, so my excitement begins to build.

The freeway snakes in between high rise condo buildings, and my first instinct was to figure out a way to get a vantage point up in the building to shoot the protest from a high angle.  I spotted a couple of guys enjoying a few beers on their 10th floor balcony  and shouted up. They were happy to come down and take me up to a spot overlooking the site of the protest. I took my pictures of the blockaded road, filed them, and got back down to street level to see if I could get in nice and close.

I ran up the onramp to the freeway, and spent a few minutes shooting the flags in the crowd, before making my way to the front lines. The demonstrators were peaceful, and the police seemed to be somewhat patient with the large crowd. Demonstration leaders kept the crowd calm with megaphones, telling them to keep the peace, but that didn’t keep a few aggressive situations from developing.

After I made my way to the front of the protest, some of the demonstrators and police began pushing and shoving, and a protester got hit in the back of the head with a baton by a police officer.  I’m still unsure why tempers escalated, but the man emerged from the scuffle with a bloody head. It was extremely dark and though the batteries in my flash were dying, I was able to shoot a frame every 3 seconds and managed to catch the police officer hitting the protester in the head.

The crowd began to yell “Sit down, let the media see what happened!”. People started to sit down as the man emerged from the crowd with a bloody face. I ran down to try to get in nice and close, where I was able to make some frames of him.

Shortly after the scuffle, the demonstrators agreed to leave the freeway, and it was over.


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Dear Sir,After reading of this article, i am pained to say that,Sri Lanka!s ethnic crises are not ended.After listening,watching their sufferings, we firmly believe that , Sri Lanka has to be watched,monitered by world policy makers,writers,politicians should sit together and get concrete packages for safe,dignified living.

Posted by krishnamurthi ramachandran | Report as abusive

[…] I have written more on the experience on the Reuters Photography Blog. […]

Posted by Mark Blinch Photography Blog » Protests | Report as abusive

Dear Sir,All your photos are keen to watch,study,analyze and pass on comments.The above photo is very much painful to see it.As per today!s reports, Sri Lanka ethnic crises will put an end.The Sri Lankan Government should give more powers,freedom,job opportunities,to ethnic Tamils at the earliest.

Posted by krishnamurthi ramachandran | Report as abusive