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Anti-2010 Protesters "get Their Game On"


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Why the Vancouver Sun published such a long article about the anti-2010 lunatics is beyond me...though it speaks quite a bit about the state of the media and its rather cynical and delusional world view:

Anti-Olympic protesters get their game on

By DOUG WARD, Vancouver Sun

January 29, 2010

VANCOUVER -- Anarchist punk ruled on the night of Jan. 22 at Victory Square, in the heart of the Olympic city. More than 200 anti-2010 protesters, some carrying black flags and burning torches, gathered for what had all the hallmarks of a dress rehearsal for the street protests that could erupt during the Winter Games just over two weeks away.

The crowd, mostly young, some wearing bandanas over their faces, had come to march against the "police repression" of anti-Olympic activism. A portable audio system jacked up the energy level with the opening chords of the Rolling Stones' Street Fighting Man. "Everywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy," howled Mick Jagger.

A few protesters with megaphones screamed slogans, often laced with obscenity, at startled motorists: "No 2010!" and "Did You Vote For Gordon Campbell?"

The small but angry far-left demo recalled the much larger anti-globalization demonstrations of a decade ago: the APEC protest and the Riot at the Hyatt in Vancouver, the epic Battle in Seattle against the World Trade Organization and the violent clash between demonstrators at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City.

Many alumni of those so-called anti-globalization convergences were in the crowd, along with younger activists seeking to emulate their radical forebears.

Among the veterans of those earlier protests was Alissa Westergard-Thorpe, an indefatigable anti-Olympic activist and a student at the University of B.C.

Now 35, Westergard-Thorpe is a key figure in the militant Olympic Resistance Network (ORN), perhaps the most radical of the anti-Olympic groups behind the "Take Back Our City" march from the Vancouver Art Gallery to BC Place Stadium, set for the afternoon of Feb. 12, when tens of thousands of people will be arriving at the stadium for the Olympic Games opening ceremonies.

"I hope it does go down like APEC," said Westergard-Thorpe, who was pepper-sprayed, strip-searched and arrested by police at that protest.

"I hope it does look like when Jean Chretien used to come to the Hyatt and we used to have thousands of people out in the street." :unsure:

Westergard-Thorpe added that the Feb. 12 marchers should be able to proceed toward BC Place as far as any non-ticket member of the public can get.

Whether any protesters would try to breach the security fences, she said: "That really depends on what type of police repression we face during the day. You know if we have a day where we're being beaten back by the police when you're simply trying to march, people's tempers can get high." :blink:

A 'mega-industry event'

As to whether she's hoping a disruption of traffic heading to BC Place might affect the opening ceremonies, set to be watched by millions of people around the world, Westergard-Thorpe said: "Absolutely, I would love to disrupt the opening ceremonies."

Westergard-Thorpe said sports should not be immune to politics.

"I'm not anti-sport. But I am against the idea that sporting events like this, which are really mega-industry events, are somehow separate from political events and they're not."

The names, faces and views of ORN members are familiar to police, who've visited many of the activists in recent months.

Staff Sgt. Mike Cote of the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit said security officials are concerned about the threat of disruption on the night of the opening ceremonies, but that the protest will be allowed to proceed so long as it is lawful.

"The ISU has no issue with protest as long as the protesters don't interfere with our security perimeter or with the rights of other people," said Cote. "And we have no reason to believe that the planned protest will not respect the laws in place in Vancouver."

Cote said there may not be vehicles to disrupt because traffic will be limited in the zone around BC Place, with little parking available in the adjacent area — "in fact, it will be non-existent."

The ISU media official said the final leg of the Olympic torch relay will be organized to ensure there is no disruption. "We have the capability of changing the relay route and upgrading or downgrading security at a moment's notice so it's really a call made on the ground."

ORN members said the protest size should be more than double the 400 demonstrators who disrupted the torch relay in October in Victoria. The protesters created havoc in the capital city's downtown for three hours, forcing relay organizers to move the torch by van to avoid the protesters.

Vanoc declined to comment on the proposed protest marches during the Olympics, citing its blanket policy that it respects "every citizen's right to freedom of expression as protected by Canadian law" and noting its security partners will "ensure peaceful, lawful and safe public demonstrations can occur outside of the venues in plain sight of the media and the public."

The "Take Back the City" march is being organized by the ironically named 2010 Welcoming Committee, whose endorsers include the Workers Communist party of Iran, the East Van Abolitionists and the Vandu Womyn's Group. 2010 Welcoming Committee spokesman Bob Ages of the Council of Canadians predicted the demonstration will stay within the limits of the law. "It's going to be very large and from our perspective it will be peaceful — there's no reason for it not to be," said Ages, who has had discussions with the Vancouver police department about the march.

But Ages' Council of Canadians is a middle-class, milquetoast group compared to ORN and its younger activists.

Despite its small size, the far-left ORN will be the most visible because the mainstream left, including the NDP and the labour movement, has mostly been supportive of the Olympics.

ORN is an umbrella organization for groups like the Anti-Poverty Committee, StopWar.ca, the Work Less Party and the Native Youth Movement. Ages acknowledged that ORN members may not follow the game plan.

"We have in the movement what I call a diversity of tactics. Some people have different ideas about the most effective way of getting their message across."

Westergard-Thorpe and ORN want the protests to become as much a part of the 2010 story as the gold-medal quests of downhiller Manny Osborne-Paradis or the Canadian hockey teams.

ORN is holding a two-day summit in east Vancouver with various seminars on the evils of capitalism and the Olympics. They are planning "days of action," beginning on the first day of Olympic competitions, Feb. 13, against Olympic corporate sponsors. (ORN members have defended the use of vandalism, even arson, to target corporate Olympic sponsors.) They are also participating in the annual Women's Memorial March, through the Downtown Eastside, to remember women murdered or missing in B.C.

While most Canadians think the Olympics are about striving for athletic excellence, most of these protesters believe the 2010 Games are just another "capitalist circus" not unlike the WTO or the G8 Summits.

Many of them are anti-poverty activists who believe that the Olympic Games have accelerated gentrification and homelessness in the Downtown Eastside. They fault Vanoc and the provincial government for failing to deliver on earlier promises to sharply increase social housing in the area.

Some have attacked the Olympics for damaging the environment, citing the destruction of the Eagleridge Bluffs in West Vancouver by the widening of the Sea to Sky Highway. Others say the Olympics are less about sports than promoting the interests of local developers and the marketing strategies of corporate sponsors like the Royal Bank of Canada, Coca-Cola, McDonald's and The Bay.

Finally, the ORN protesters say repeatedly that the Olympics are being held on unceded native land because the vast majority of first nations in B.C. do not have land claims treaties. The activists heap scorn on the chiefs and councils of the Lil'wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations for becoming official hosts of the games. They call Phil Fontaine, former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, a "collaborator" for taking a new job with RBC and promoting its sponsorship of the Olympic torch relay.

Grand Chief Tewanee Joseph, executive director of the Four Host Nations, dismisses claims the councils are selling out to the Games, noting the $57 million and 2,000 jobs brought to the aboriginal community as a result of the Olympics wouldn't have materialized otherwise. The Olympics are also an opportunity to share Canada's first nation stories, successes and culture with the world, he said, as well as educate the world about native poverty, suicide rates and land claims through education.

"Everyone has a right to voice their opinions. These are our lands and the Games are on our traditional territories but we don't need them to speak for us," he said of the protesters.

"We're a full partner and we're a proud partner; indigenous people have never been part of the Games before. We never want to be on the outside looking in. If we didn't do it somebody else would have stepped in and told our stories for us."

APEC remembered

Robert Diab, a lawyer who teaches legal studies at Capilano College, said it's unclear whether the police have learned lessons from APEC or the Riot at the Hyatt, two demonstrations where protesters were injured by the police.

Diab said the long-running uncertainty in recent years over protest zones during the Olympics could prompt some activists to see how far they can go. "It seems obvious that all of the anxiety around security and civil liberties at the Olympics may well become a self-fulfilling prophecy. There is so much tension over whether rights will be limited that we may see protesters trying to test the limits in a way they might ordinarily not be inclined to do."

To the protesters who turned out a week ago at Victory Square, the Olympics are too good an opportunity not to exploit.

A young woman in a hoodie took a megaphone and said: "They say the Olympics are coming in February. But we've been living in it for the last five years. And now we're in the thick of it: a s—t sandwich with no bread."

She passed the megaphone to a male comrade who raged that "these pigs would like to see the last breath of sanity choked out of this world. To me capitalism is exploitation and the state a murderer." Someone offered up a pro forma "right on!"

Local activist groups have been talking about disrupting the 2010 Games for years now.

They've put the word out to other anti-capitalist activists around North America to converge on Vancouver during the Olympics. And over the past few years, members of ORN have tried to muck up Olympic public events, forcing Vanoc to stop staging large Olympic-fever rallies in downtown Vancouver.

"If people have political issues, the Olympics is a way to get your issues through the media to the forefront," said Westergard-Thorpe, adding that ORN wants to illuminate the real Vancouver for the international media. "I don't want them to see a sanitized, corporatized image given to them. I want them to see what Vancouver is really about, which is poverty, environmental destruction and a crackdown on civil liberties." :lol:

A protest veteran

Chris Shaw, perhaps the best-known of the city's anti-Olympic protesters, also marched on Friday night as a medic, ready to help any protester injured in any confrontation with the police. He too is a veteran of earlier anti-globalization protests — "APEC sparked my interest and Seattle cemented it" — but he's not out of central casting.

At 59, he's older than most anti-Olympic activists. He's also a top medical researcher at Vancouver General Hospital, managing research projects into Parkinson's Disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Shaw was a key organizer of the No side in the 2003 plebiscite on the Olympics in Vancouver, which was won by the Yes side with 63 per cent of the vote.

As Shaw recounted in his book, Five Ring Circus: Myths and Realities of the Olympic Games, he became interested in the 2010 Olympics while driving back to Vancouver from a protest at the 2002 G8 Summit in Kananaskis, Alberta. He and his friends saw an article in a newspaper on the floor of their car about how Vancouver was hoping to get on the shortlist of cities bidding for the 2010 Games. Shaw and his friends discussed whether the Olympics was similar to the globalization phenomenon they had been opposing in Kananaskis.

"If so, maybe exposing it could be our 'wedge' issue, one that we could use to broach the flaws of globalization to an apathetic or uninformed audience," wrote Shaw in his book.

Shaw said he doesn't want to see any violence at the Feb. 12 march on BC Place. Shaw is the medical response coordinator for the protest.

"I would like to see a lot of people on the street, demonstrating and talking to people. I would like to see the embarrassment that a demonstration during the Olympics might bring to different levels of government. It might force them to deal with issues they've neglected. And if it was the start of a re-establishment of an anti-globalization movement, that would be icing on the cake."

Shaw is among several anti-Olympic critics who have attracted the attention of the ISU.

The police have visited the homes — and sometimes the workplaces and friends — of activists. So far there have been no pre-emptive arrests and the police have long dropped their earlier attempt to limit protest to safe assembly areas. They agree now that the whole city — at least the area outside security perimeters around Olympic venues — is a free-speech zone.

Nevertheless, the police visits are viewed by the protesters as a tactic of intimidation and further proof that the Olympics has undermined civil liberties. To that end, the rally on Friday night was called Struggle Against Police Repression and organized by the 12th and Clark Collective, which sounds like your basic off-Commercial Drive activist communal house. The march headed down Hastings Street, disrupting eastbound traffic.

As it passed the new Woodward's redevelopment, there was a sense of life imitating art. The scene was strikingly similar to the massive photograph mural hanging inside the atrium of Woodward's — Stan Douglas's Abbott & Cordova, which depicts a scene from the 1971 Gastown Riot.

Only in Douglas's hyper-real tableau, the police are chasing protesters on horses. On Friday night, policemen on mountain bikes accompanied the march along Hastings and did nothing to stop its progress.

The new Woodward's was also a reminder that the anti-Olympic protesters tactic of direct action — or "vulgar activism" as APC member David Cunningham once described it — can be effective.

Many credit the 2002 Woodsquat occupation of the old vacant Woodward's building for raising the issue of homelessness and setting in motion the eventual redevelopment of the landmark department store building.

This is one of the arguments for confronting the Olympics put forward by Gord Hill, a 41-year-old aboriginal activist, originally from near Alert Bay. Hill is another veteran of earlier anti-globalization protests who marched on Friday night and plans to join the Feb. 12 march on the Olympic opening ceremonies. He was arrested for disrupting the unveiling of the Olympic countdown clock three years ago and has been visited several times recently by police officers from the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit.

He said the intersection of the Feb. 12 march and the Olympic opening ceremonies is a "vulnerable point" for Olympic security officials. "We're going to disrupt the traffic flow for sure. I mean you can't have hundreds of people walking through the street and not disrupt the traffic."

He came up with the anti-Olympic movement's slogan of "No 2010 Olympics On Stolen Native Land."

Hill acknowledged that the public sees the Olympics as a "benign sporting event ... But when you scratch the surface you see what a putrid, disgusting thing it is."

Hill has discussed on his No2010.com website why anti-Olympic groups are willing to vandalize businesses. "Groups that carry out militant direct action are just one part of the anti-Olympics movement. Most do not carry out vandalism or arson. Those that do have targeted corporate sponsors of the Olympics as a form of sabotage (along with police & military targets). This can increase the costs for corporations seeking to profit from the Games, and could potentially deter some corporate investment. All militant direct actions that have occurred have consisted of property damage and no person has been injured as a result."

Border issues

Also at the Friday march was Harsha Walia, project manager at the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre and a regular participant in anti-Olympic events. Walia, who also marched in Seattle against the WTO, said it's unclear how many Americans will attend the anti-Olympic events. She expects that Canada Border Services Agency will do its best to prevent activists from crossing the border. She noted how the CBA stopped American journalist Amy Goodman at the border and questioned her for 90 minutes about whether she was coming to Canada to speak against the Olympics. American border officials have similarly tried to stop recruitment of American activists, added Walia, noting that B.C. Olympic critic Marla Renn was denied entry at the border, preventing her from speaking about the Olympics to college students in Oregon.

Both the Canadian and American border services say it will be business as usual during the Olympics and there are no plans to increase security measures to red-flag suspected protesters heading across the border.

Faith St. John, spokeswoman for Canada Border Services, was tight-lipped about how CBSA would deal with suspected protesters, saying only that Canadian admissions requirements will not change and individual travellers may be subject to more "in-depth examinations" on a case-by-case basis.

The Friday march concluded peacefully at Thornton Park in front of the Pacific Central Station. No laws were broken, traffic disruption was minimal and a smiling policeman was satisfied enough to quip that he thought the demonstrators' torches "were a nice touch."

Don't bet on the police being as complimentary during the direct action protests promised by ORN members during the Olympic period.

"The general goal is to disrupt the Olympics," said ORN's Hill, "and to send a clear message to the International Olympic Committee, Vanoc and other Olympic host cities that holding the Olympics can bring you this type of resistance."

With files from Kelly Sinoski


© Copyright © The Vancouver Sun

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Of course such an article is going to provoke negative reactions from those of us who believe in Olympic values and the worthiness of the institution. People are always going to think what they want to (even if it seems stupid from our own perspective) and there is no point in trying to reason with them, it is usually a waste of time. If anyone in Vancouver actually comes in contact with any of them, just ignore them. Any reaction they get from you will be considered a victory for their compaign of hate. I believe in freedom of speech and assembly, but when groups like this threaten to harm the public good through acts of arson and vandalism, then they must be crushed.

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ORN members said the protest size should be more than double the 400 demonstrators who disrupted the torch relay in October in Victoria.

So, we're talking about 800 people; and that's going by the protesters' own expections which are always hyped up. Any decent police force ought to be able to control a crowd that size and the TV cameras should pay them no attention.

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GeeCee - where are you volunteering? Have fun!

I'm volunteering at the Main Media Centre in Vancouver, doing Accreditation. Big tent between the IBC (new convention centre) and the MPC (old convention centre - Canada Place, the building with the sails).

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I hope the police use full brutality, if there trying to break down security fences they have every right too. Why can't they accept the Olympics are coming and just leave town? :angry:

A lot of these anti-2010 activists and anti-capitalist activists and anarchists grew up in wealthy families, ran away from home, and joined these organizations.

I too hope for police brutality...apparently, they think if the police try to stop you from climbing over a security fence it's police brutality. :huh:

I'm actually worried, because the people who are responsible for the anti-2010 protests are also responsible for the World Trade Organization Summit Riot in Seattle about ten years ago, nicknamed "Battle of Seattle".

"Battle of Seattle"...thousands of protesters blocked the streets leading to the convention centre, meaning delegates couldn't get to the venue. Then later in the day, a few hundred anarchists started rioting and it became a sh!tstorm from there. Seattle police had to move to riot control mode, and the Mayor of Seattle declared Martial Law for 50 blocks of Downtown Seattle.



And then there's the APEC 1997 Summit in Vancouver. It was held at the University of British Columbia, which in hindsight was a bad choice considering UBC is known for its student anarchists and radicalists. Student protesters tore down the security fence that separated the protesters from the world leaders inside the theatre, causing police to use force which lunatics for some reason called "police brutality". And later in the day, student protesters blocked the only motorcade route out of the venue...police used pepper spray, and apparently it was again called "police brutality".


I can only hope that we will have zero tolerance for this kind of behaviour...and I would like to think that security is prepared for this, especially since it's their number one concern at this point. With 5,000 police officers and 6,000 soldiers in the city plus another 5,000 contracted security guards, I'd like to think that we will be safe.

But these protesters really distract security forces from focusing on what should be the real concern: international terrorism. Keep in mind that a Vancouver mining company has lost 2-tons of explosive grade ammonnium nitrate (equivalent to four Oklahomas), and the RCMP is still trying to find it.

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A lot of these anti-2010 activists and anti-capitalist activists and anarchists grew up in wealthy families' date=' ran away from home, and joined these organizations.[/quote']

We have similar type people here on the east coast, We call them "squeegee's". They've been responsible for several riots in Halifax including the G7 riot in 2002. I'm afraid is becoming more and more likely we will see a battle of Seattle type event in downtown Vancouver, possibly very close to Canada place and the media center which would obviously give them quite a lot of publicity. Any word on how many police/military will be in Vancouver for the games?

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This was just posted on Craigslist....some scary delusional people in this city:

In preparation for the 2010 Olympics, Vancouver police are out in full swing silencing protestors, harassing and intimidating innocent civilians while using unjust techniques to lock up the homeless population. Operation Press Record is intended to call upon ANY citizen of Vancouver or travelling visitors to the city to carry a Video Camera with them AT ALL TIMES and document any footage of authorities abusing their power, using violent or any other ILLEGAL tactic that go against our human rights.

In addition to documenting illegal tactics by the Police, it will put the authorities in an awkward situation as if they target individuals holding camcorders & cameras, they will also be targeting those tourists who will be visiting the city for the games, which could erupt a PR nightmare on the Vancouver Police.

Operation Record was not created to be anti-police because like everything in life - there are good people and bad people and to generalize any group as having one characteristic is foolish. The intention of this operation however is to protect citizens from their rights of freedom of speech and to protect the homeless from being treated unjustly while reminding authorities that they also have to abide by the LAW and are not above it.

If you have a video camera - get to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics and perform your duties as a protector of human rights by PRESSING RECORD. We need video cameras EVERYWHERE. We need so many video cameras that we have individuals recording the people recording the police. It is only through the power of the LENS that we can protect our fellow citizens, our future childrens rights and stop authorities from abusing their power through a peaceful manner.



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I know i'm horrible saying this :lol: but the cops should once and for all teach those anarchist hippies the beautiful art of the police brutality :'D . If this keeps happening we're going to have even worse things than the nudist girl and the Casino Online retarded from Torino 2006 closing...

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Conveniently, the Vancouver Police Department has purchased a sonic cannon in time for the Games...it is meant to disperse crowds:


This is what it sounds like:

Not sure if this is related to anti-capitalism anarchism, but i'll post it here anyway:

Olympic spirit dampened as vandals ruin Israeli flags

Vandals have attempted to dampen Olympic spirit by attacking Israeli flag decals displayed along Vancouver’s sidewalks.

Two Israeli flag emblems have disappeared from South Granville after they were sloshed with paint and the words “Free Palestine” were scrawled on them last month.

“There are unfortunately incidents of all kinds aimed at all kinds of different people, different faiths, different minority groups, etc.,” Mark Gurvis, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver told The Province.

“It’s not shocking to us that this happens in the world and it’s not shocking to us that the flag of Israel would be targeted,” said Gurvis.

“It’s very sad that this would happen in the midst of the Olympics, at a time when our region will be welcoming the world, that something like this would be happening.”

The emblems, which were at the entrance of the Starbucks at 7th Avenue and Granville Street and on Granville between 12th and 14th Avenues, were removed by the South Granville Business Improvement Association on Dec. 26.

The decals are part of Flagwalk, a display of some 450 international flags from 80 countries participating in winter sporting events that crawl along through Yaletown to South Granville.

The spots where the flags were have remained empty for the time being as the BIAs had not factored in multiple replacement costs.



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Is there any way they could threaten the Opening Ceremony? Would blocking traffic to BC place effect it at all?

Probably, altough there's always someone who can infiltrate inside the spectators and poop the party for the rest. But yeah, they should block the traffic to BC place (and they will, so the athletes and performers can move in)

And horray for sonic cannons

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Is there any way they could threaten the Opening Ceremony? Would blocking traffic to BC place effect it at all?

Yes, they could block traffic to BC Place and there's a chance security officials won't use force because they're so d@mn passive...they'll let protesters walk all over them before doing anything. These protesters deem anything as "police brutality".

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I don't think it will be that crazy. Most of the people coming in to Vancouver are here to either celebrate, compete in, or report on the Games. And those that are staying in town are planning on taking in as much as they can. Hotels are booked. Roads are being shut down. Where will protestors stay? How will they get around. And how will they cope in a city and in an event where the overwhelming majority are in a mood to celebrate, not complain, to party, not party poop. They'll be a nuisance, as always, but I can't see them overtaking the city.

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I suppose this was bound to happen, an Olympics happening in an extremely left wing liberal city. At the same time, I imagine protesting is all these people have to look forward to, since they don't want to work and want everything handed to them on a silver platter. They're slackers, that's what they are. They want everyone to be as miserable as they are.

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