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Marchers briefly block gas station during G20 protest in downtown Toronto

TORONTO - Hundreds of noisy G20 demonstrators shut down traffic in downtown Toronto on Monday protesting the heavy police presence in the city.

TORONTO - Hundreds of noisy G20 demonstrators shut down traffic in downtown Toronto on Monday protesting the heavy police presence in the city.

With the gathering of world leaders just days away, anti-poverty activists and others rallied at Allan Gardens.

Chanting slogans such as "Whose streets? Our streets!" and "Justice now!" the demonstrators — some masked, others wearing T-shirts with slogans or carrying banners — marched through the streets.

They blocked intersections, briefly occupied an Esso gas station then walked past the Eaton Centre.

"I know a lot of people who really don't like the G20 but are afraid to be out on the streets of Toronto," said a man who said he's a member of the hip-hop duo Test Their Logik.

"They see the sound weapons, they see the tear gas, they see the press releases the pigs are putting out, saying that like they're going to have snipers on the rooftops," he said.

The duo performed a song for the crowd that started off as "a police state, a police state, rise up, rebel, before it's too late."

Demonstrators say the $1 billion spent on military-style security for the gathering of world leaders could better be spent on the poor, health care or child care.

They shouted "Stop the war, arm the poor, make the rich pay."

Dozens of officers on bicycles moved like a wave alongside protesters, blocking side streets as the loud but peaceful marchers passed by.

The G20 leaders only serve the rich, and the G20 doesn't represent them, some protesters said.

"Who steals the wealth we create?" said Jamila Ghaddar, an organizer with the Hamilton Coalition Against the G20.

"Money and resources are supposed to go to the people in our society so everybody is taken care of. They steal that," Ghaddar told the crowd.

Representatives of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and the Kingston Coalition Against Poverty were in the crowd, said Kelly Pflug-Back, 21, a rally organizer and University of Guelph student.

"We are involved on a day-to-day basis with trying to provide the things that the government is not providing, trying to create a framework for a community that is self-sufficient," said Pflug-Back.

The marchers also oppose the Western presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, said protester Morteza Gorgzadeh.

One protester was arrested. The demonstrators plan to stage another march during Tuesday afternoon's rush hour.

Meanwhile, police warn they have added a water cannon to their arsenal as they step up security ahead of the summit in Toronto.

Provincial police Const. Michelle Murphy of the Integrated Security Unit said the water projection system will be used to control large crowds if there are riots.

"The projection system causes less injuries so that's why it's an option for us," said Murphy.

Toronto's police chief has said 5,100 officers have been assigned to keep the city safe as the weekend summit nears.

Officers have been doing security sweeps through parks where protests will be held. Workers have put the finishing touches on the three-metre-tall fence that surrounds the security zone.

People are advised to avoid the fenced-off area, and officers will ask those trying to get inside for identification and their reason for entering.

The Canada Revenue Agency said Monday it will close its tax office near the security zone Wednesday through Friday.

Security for the G8 summit in Huntsville, Ont., was also boosted. As of Monday, no public access was being granted to Deerhurst Resort where world leaders will gather.

Road restrictions on a portion of Highway 60 go into effect Wednesday.

 
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