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State Department Issues Travel Warning: Avoid G20 Protests

The violence of the lambs.

2:40 PM, Jun 18, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Remind me. Has the State Department ever had to issue a travel warning for the greater Topeka metro area due to potential violence from Tea Party protesters?

Fears of violence prompted a U.S. State Department recommendation that Americans avoid downtown Toronto next week because the large-scale demonstrations around the June 26-27 summit of the G20 rich and emerging nations could turn nasty.

"Even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can become violent and unpredictable," the State Department said in a travel alert that expires on June 28. "You should avoid them if at all possible."

Nongovernmental groups have promised peaceful protests, but previous summits have attracted violent groups intent on disrupting the meetings or fighting with police. Organizers admit anarchist groups may join these demonstrations too.

The G20 meeting in Pittsburgh in September 2009, which happened while the media was absolutely freaking out over conservatives yelling at town halls, resulted in an estimated $50,000 in damages and more than 80 arrests of protesters. There was very little talk about the imminent threat to the Republic caused by these sometimes violent protests.

Remind me. Has the Tea Party movement, often unfairly ridiculed as Astroturf, ever sponsored a fully furnished living area (ahem, "convergence space" and "People's Kitchen") for professional protesters after a hard day's work hoisting signs, throwing rocks, and yelling?

G20 protesters will have comfy couches, a kitchen, mellow music and even a barbecue after a long day of hoisting signs and pounding pavements.

After months of summit officials publicizing Toronto's plans, demonstrators unveiled some of their own Thursday.

Community activists showed off a dark basement on Queen Street West in Toronto, which will be a headquarters-of-sorts for weary protesters looking for some reprieve.

"It is costing us a lot of money," said Syed Hussan of The Toronto Community Mobilization Network.

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