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Who is James Ruehle?

A media review of June 26 2010 and the origins of the ‘black block is cops’ conspiracy theory.

Dominion Stories

Who is James Ruehle?

Also posted by bineshii:

At about 11pm June 26, Canadian Press released an article with this tacked at the end:

“James Ruehle, a 49-year-old contractor from Pickering, a half hour's drive from Toronto, saw the burning of the three police cruisers. Ruehle was stopped in his truck at the lights at the corner of King and Bay streets in the city's financial district as the protesters approached. Three police vehicles zipped past the line of traffic into the intersection, where they stopped with lights flashing. A group of about 20 to 30 police then began to congregate but an officer Ruehle thought was a police captain ordered them back.

"The cop was yelling at them 'Back up!' 'Put your batons down!'" said Ruehle.

The police in the cars, he said, then amazed him by backing off, leaving the cruisers running in the middle of the intersection with their lights flashing and doors open.
"It was like an invitation G(to the protesters)," said Ruehle. "One kid with a helmet and a black suit jumps on the trunk lid of the police car and jumps up and down like a madman." Ruehle said three or four others in similar garb quickly joined in.”

This article, and an unfortunately prominent twitter that was posted around noon on the 26th by an identity posing as an internal organizer [@g20moblize], were the first appearances of an insidious meme that spread quickly, infecting the minds of many otherwise thoughtful intelligent people. The premise was the police, ‘let the city burn’ –or that they left out bait for the Black Block to deliberately escalate protester violence in order to justify cracking down on peaceful protesters later in the day. Or alternately, that the police could have preemptively arrested the entire black block –thus preventing the riot before it even began, instead they used police provocateurs and burning police cars to justify their billion dollar budget.

The Ruehle article, was posted almost at midnight on the 26th, and until then, the police provocateur argument was absent from mainstream media coverage, but was sprinkled through out wingnut blogs and comments on various articles the same day.

A Google search of “g20 provocateur Toronto” on June 26 leads to 40 pages of articles and comments, only a handful of are from mainstream news and none are from creditable sources. Some examples; davidickeofficalforum, stubblejumpingredneck, sparkoflife, truth411, allmysteries,, and 420reality –the names do not fill me with confidence in objective professional journalism.

The intention of this article is not to uphold mainstream media as reliable or trustworthy sources of information. The objective is to assume the CopTV model –where mainstream media and state policing agencies work hand in hand to suppress resistance movements. Thus, what ever the nightly news is saying is somewhat similar to the what the police are thinking.

A Google search of “Violence” and  “Toronto” limited to June 26 2010 leads to 60 pages of articles, primarily by mainstream news sources. There are a handful of independently written articles and witness accounts, but most articles are reposts from Canadian Press, Associated Press, CanWest News or QMI Agency. There is no mention of the black block as police provocateurs argument.

What there is, is a large element of criticism of police incompetence, with the police themselves explaining why they had difficulty containing the rioting while defending their ability to maintain the perimeter of the fence unchallenged.

An article suggesting a very different scenario than the Ruehle situation, was released by Canadian Press, around the same time --11pm Saturday night. It was carried on Canadian Business, Mclean’s, MSN, Guelph Mercury, 680news and the Chronicle Herald of Halifax. The article interviews ‘security expert John Thompson, who according to them, has studied demonstrations for 25 years:
“…police handled the mobs the way they should. … officers will often let demonstrators tire themselves out and then slowly push them away. By keeping them moving, police prevent tension from boiling over into intense violence.

Thompson, who works for the Mackenzie Institute think-tank, said 90 per cent of protesters are generally peaceful, with only two per cent looking for an altercation. The remaining eight per cent join in once trouble begins to brew.

He said police often wait for the stunned peaceful protesters to get hungry, tired, or bored of watching and disperse, making it easier for officers to tame the remaining troublemakers.

Thompson said that although police in Saturday’s riot allowed demonstrators to smash windows, that tactic helped them successfully protect the summit security perimeter, which police expected to be the main target for destruction.

And by avoiding a confrontation right off the bat, police will be more able to control future protests, he said.

‘If you surround a mob with people and start wailing away with clubs and a barrage of tear gas, you'll have a battle on your hands and next time it’ll be worse.’

‘You can't defend everything. That's just not possible for anyone. Broken windows can be fixed, graffiti can be scrubbed off, but the demonstrators never worked up enough tension (to cause more destruction.)’”

In an article titled, ‘Anarchists leave trail of destruction’ released by QMI Agency the hands off approach police took towards the riot is clearly explained by tactical decisions and failures:

“…frustrated by an impenetrable line of security forces surrounding the downtown site where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was hosting the G20 summit, activists turned on the city. Police let them get as far as Queen St. W. and then brought them to a halt.

“’They’re very organized — it’s almost like a cat-and-mouse game,’ one observer said. ‘They are picking the few weakness they can find in the cops and targeting them and then quickly dispersing so they don’t get caught. They’re definitely the leaders.’

The police were waiting for the militant protesters to burn themselves out, while at the same time extremely cautious not to egg them on or enrgize an increassed aggression that could burn all night.

“Later, a large crowd gathered outside the security fence at Bay and Front Sts. and the mayhem promised to go well into the night.”

Other reports state that the police expected the violence to continue, and in fact escalate as night fell on the city. Perhaps expecting John Thompson’s remaining 8 percent to materialize from the suburbs as news spread of rioting downtown. 

In addition to expectations of rioting expanding overnight, news reported threats from unionists to storm the fence,

Canadian Press reported:  “As night fell hundreds of protesters mounted a futile campaign. Chanting "To the fence," the group made several attempts to approach the security barrier, but was blocked by riot police at every turn.”

An article originating in the Globe and Mail, quotes Kelly O’Sullivan, who spoke at the Toronto Community Mobilization Networks’ morning press conference on the 26th. Reports identified O’Sullivan as the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4308 –an organization representing community organizations all over Toronto.

“We’re calling for many of us to go to the fence,”  QMI, also following the story quotes O’Sullivan, "Many of us will go to the fence, we go to the fence because the (G20) don't represent working people.

Canadian Press quoted O’Sullivan,  ‘…storming the fence is a challenge against the G20, which unions believe doesn't represent the working class.’

"Nothing has ever been given to working people. We have to take what we deserve. If going to the fence involves violence we will decide how we will respond."

So in addition to police thinking that rioting was likely to increase overnight, as oppose to disperse like it did, and with early morning threats of union leaders storming the fence in stead of politely voicing their opinions on the legislature lawns --is it a wonder police attacked the hordes of protesters on the streets all day? It seems the police, unlike many people in the resistance movement, did not base their strategy on the weakness of the antiG20 Convergence, but on it’s strength. By all accounts, the police over estimated the ability of the Convergence to mount sustained militant action.

While no doubt resistors gave it their best shot and won many skirmishes throughout the day, the police did not need the black block to ‘justify’ it’s brutally repressive behaviour, they had rationally formed theories based on research and expert evidence that they based their actions on. Their failure was in basing their action on faulty surveillance and a misunderstanding of the simultaneously organized and chaotic nature of anti-capitalist resistance.

By these accounts of the 26th, police were expecting far worse than what happened. They were expecting rioting with potential severe and aggressive attacks on police that was likely to escalate into full scale rioting all over the city over night, in the meantime, thousands of unionists descending on the fence –potentially breaching it.

This was the disaster situation police envisioned, and what they are patting themselves on the back for preventing.


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thanks for this

one correction, it wasn't a fake media co-op twitter account. The account in question is called @g20mobilize. Cheers.


thanks, i knew that, i don't know why i wrote media coop. --brain fart.

Look who's talking

It's your web site that seems obsessed with creating disinformation to shield the cops from scrutiny. Why so many stories 'debunking' the obvious: that the police infiltrated and manipulated the G20 protests to rationalize a massive crackdown. Everyone can see they succeeded, now we need an inquiry to find out what really went down.

Yes, the cops infiltrated

Yes, the cops infiltrated protest groups, or at least they tried their very best. That's what secret police/thought police do. This is something that certainly merits discussion.

But I was on the streets, and I saw the cops running scared. The point is by no means to shield the cops from scrutiny. It is to show that they were outwitted (and specifically, outrun) by the black bloc and the *thousands* of people who walked alongside them. 

I also think an inquiry would be good, because it would show how scared and incompetent the $1bn police were, and how unacceptable their mass arrests (done out of a cowardly sense of revenge) actually were.

Thanks Binshii for this piece. 

Thank u

Thanks, Bineshii. Another solid piece. I thought the conspiracy nuts lining up behind Judy Rebick and Alex Jones was a huge downer. But the upshot is we're getting sharper analysis from u and others who have been forced to respond to their nonsense. Keep it coming! 

question unanswered

This article never addresses the question it alludes to at the start -- why *did* the police leave those cars in that intersection? Indeed, it's a question that has yet to be answered anywhere, so far as I know. What, then, makes it "an insidious meme"?

As well, competent police make decisions based on what is happening -- not what they think might.

This piece of crap

Who wrote this piece of propaganda crap? I covered the G-20 protests and there is no doubt in my mind that if the police were not using provocateurs they planned to let this happen, they all but put a bow on the cars that got burned. This article was written by someone who was not there and has a very biased slant on the side of authority.

 If you were there, you must

 If you were there, you must have seen the cop getting out of car *after* it had been smashed and running away, right? 

rules of engagement

I’m into to open dialogue and having the validity of my arguments and research challenged, but only on certain conditions:

That you thoughtfully read the article and present an argument related to the actual content.

That you don’t just knee jerk respond the same old line no matter what anybody says:
* duh-cats voice over *   "but they’z iz cops"

That you are not a rude nasty troll, whose goal in life is to sit at your desk being a jerk to anyone you can type at.

Also the words ‘piece of crap’ or similar insults are translated in my mind to, ‘douchbag  alert skip or delete.’


I very much appreciate positive feed back, because publishing on line you have to develop a thick skin because rude nastiness is rampant when people don't have to face who they are talking to. Also, I strongly recommend anytime you like something on line, to comment an appreciation, or a thought developed from the article, otherwise these kinds of open publishing forums get over run by trolls and it becomes demoralizing to authors.


Further Commentary Pending

This is a good peice in demystifying the events at the Toronto G20 and at that intersection for someone who was not there or anywhere near there. I think that an number of important lessons need to be drawn from the Toronto G20, and that these questions might begin to address the following questions (not loaded, i think):

  • Why are parts of the anit-capitalist movement so profoundly disillusioned with the Black Bloc tactic, while others so profoundly enamoured with it, and more importantly what if any compromise position can there be to resolve this rift?
  • What tactical changes need to be taken into account to respond to increased police adaptability and competence in dealing with 'Summit Protests'? For example in the article i noted that the police relied on 'militant' protesters tiring out before getting to their main objective. Should these militants have kept their heads down until getting to the fence and acted as much needed support for the Unionists? Should there be greater, or less collusion with mainstream protesters in this?
  • What medium-term objectives can the anti-capitalist movement formulate to justify any of the tactics used at this kind of protest? As far as i can tell they have failed. Failure would require some serious re-examining of tactics and short-term objectives. But no medium-term objectives have been clearly formulated by any summit protest group, outside of the long-term objectives of ending capitalist exploitation etc... Are we shutting down summits as a symbolic act? As a means of stopping the summit leaders from formulating their policies? As a stepping stone to armed urban guerrilla actions?

Anyways, these are my thoughts on this. I know this has already been happening, but i really want to encoourage Toronto organisers to keep up debriefings, and encourage debate about what happened. Its you guys on the ground, that the rest of us rely on to tell us about new ideas you may have had about your experiences, so that we can think about what's happening in our own communities and how to deal with that.



Good Article

 Thanks a lot for this article, as it brings up a lot of information about the thinking of the police that I have not seen or heard anywhere else.  Very interesting and important stuff no matter what people's opinion of the black bloc tactic is.  We really can't understand the black bloc tactic or really any militant tactic without this kind of information. 

Good article.

Good article.

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