Culture  Shutting our windows, plugging our ears

On a rainy afternoon in February of 2003, I lay down on Toronto’s Yonge Street with a few hundred others to protest a possible American-led invasion of Iraq. I lay there shivering, thinking proudly of how brave we must have looked to the people passing by.

Since then, the United States has invaded Iraq, I’ve attended dozens more protests, and the novelty has worn off. So a few weeks ago, watching a pro-choice march crawl alongside Mont-Royal’s Sunday afternoon shoppers, I decided to train my lens on a new subject: the spectators.

A well-organized protest can be stirring and inspirational. But too often a worthwhile message goes into a tinny megaphone and comes out garbled. And so people continue with their shopping, plug their ears, or shut their windows. But I’m optimistic. Because once in a while a protest is powerful enough to rattle those windows and shake people out of their Sunday afternoon stupors. Either way, I’ll be there. Rain or shine.

–Images and text by Stephen Davis