The recent G20 riots in Toronto have prompted many journalists to overstate the size and ferocity of the violence. This isn’t really surprising – journalists often exaggerate the facts to add ‘drama’ to their reports. But calling the recent violence “unprecedented” is really stretching the truth – as anyone who’s seen Violent August can attest.
During the two days of major rioting in August, 1918, Toronto Mayor Tommy Church stated that some 50,000 rioters took to the streets. And while the Mayor, too, was probably exaggerating the facts to justify his draconian response to the rioting (locking down the city and threatening martial law) – it’s pretty clear that the crowds were at least 20,000 – 30,000 strong. And if you remember that Toronto’s population at the time was only around 500,000, that means roughly 6% of Toronto’s good citizens were rioting. To match those numbers, (conservatively putting Toronto’s population at two million), that would mean approximately 120,000 rioters would have been on the streets to truly make the G20 riot “unprecedented”.