Revised Report: Some 200 people participated in the Anti-Olympic Torch Light Parade marking the 1-Year Countdown to the 2010 Winter Games on Feb 12, 2009 in downtown Vancouver.
After rallying at Victory Square at 6PM, where a 'Torch of Resistance' was lit and used to burn a Canadian Olympic flag, the demonstration marched to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, where a 2010 'Countdown' concert was taking place and dozens of police were assembled to stop any possible disruption. From there, the protest moved up Georgia St. to Burrard, stopping at various corporate sponsors, including the Hudson's Bay Company, Royal Bank of Canada, Bell, and CTV.
Representatives from the Olympic Resistance Network (ORN), Downtown Eastside Women's Center Elder's Council, and Stopwar.ca addressed the crowd. Among the banners were the anarchist's 'Sabotage the Systems of Social Control' and 'Communities not Olympics'.
About a dozen torches were lit on the protest route, which ended at the 'Countdown Clock' located at the Art Gallery. Several targets were hit with paint bombs, including the clock as the rally ended. There were no arrests.
The protest was organized by the Olympics Resistance Network (see press release below);
Resist 2010 ! No Olympics on Stolen Native Land !
Check out the image gallery at: http://www.no2010.com/node/791
Some corporate news stories:
Anti-Olympic protesters hold counter ceremony
By Jack Keating,
More than 150 protesters marched from Victory Square through downtown Vancouver in an anti -Olympic torch light parade Thursday night.
The parade, to mark the one-year countdown to the Olympics, was held to highlight all of the “negative social impacts” the 2010 Olympics will have on Vancouver.
The march left Victory Square where one protester burned an Olympic flag with a torch, and they marched by the Queen Elizabeth Theatre where dozens of police stood guard to prevent any attempt to enter the theatre where an Olympic gala event was being held.
The marchers, with about 10 flaming torches and chanting “homes not Games”, continued along Georgia Street to Burrard and then down Robson, stopping at some of the corporate Olympic sponsors offices, before ending up at the Olympic clock outside the Art Gallery.
Dozens of police on bicycles and motorcycles and others filming the march with video cameras kept a close watch on the parade.
There was a brief standoff between protesters and Vancouver police officers on bicycles at the clock that ended peacefully.
However, after the protest ended someone threw a red paint ball that splattered against the bottom of the clock.
Speakers from The Olympic Resistance Network, which organized the march, at Victory Square urged people to fight against the “2010 corporate invasion, police state tactics, homelessness, criminalization of the poor, ecological destruction, public debt, colonization and other negative social impacts” they say the Olympics will bring to Vancouver.
One speaker talked about the 370 per cent increase in homelessness in Vancouver in recent years while more than a billion dollars is being spent on the Olympics.
Anti-Olympic activist Garth Mullins said the parade was an alternative to VANOC’s “spin” on the 2010 Olympics.
“We’re trying to use the torches, which are the symbol of the Olympics, to actually take them and shine some light on the impacts of the Olympics on the poor and homeless people in the Downtown Eastside,” said Mullins.
“And also on the environment, indigenous people and people whose civil liberties are going to be eroded and crushed in Vancouver.”
Mullins also criticized Operation Silver, a massive security operation underway by the army, CSIS and police.
"We feel that their security plans are going to be very detrimental to people’s civil liberties and we’re also trying to shine some light on that,” said Mullins, wearing a jacket with the orange-coloured words “Resist 2010” across the back.
Alissa Westergard-Thorpe thought the rally and parade was a success.“I think it’s important that with the one-year countdown we get our voices out especially as the city, VANOC and the police are trying so hard to suppress dissent in the city,” said Westergard-Thorpe.
“And I think more and more people will be concerned over the next year as you see the police state build up and you see the economic waste and the environmental destruction associated with the Olympics even more people will care when the Olympics actually and I think a lot of people care right now.”
“I think merely the fact that we’re able to go out and march in the streets and express our viewpoint is always a success, especially when they’re trying so hard to restrict our right to protest.”
Several Hundred Anti-Olympic Protesters Light up the Streets
Anti-Olympic protesters lit up the streets of downtown Vancouver during a protest parade Thursday night, carrying makeshift torches and setting fire to a 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics flag.
Several hundred people participated in the march, which stopped outside of buildings belonging to Olympic sponsors such as the Hudson's Bay Company, CTV, and Canada Post. The protest focused on concerns about affordable housing in the city, native land use for Olympic venues, and the financial burden on taxpayers for the games.
CTV reported Thursday night that protesters also paint-bombed the Olympic clock, just as the demonstration ended.
Olympic protests during one year celebrations
Not everyone greeted the countdown to 2010 celebrations with cheers.
About 100 protesters, some carrying torches, marched through the downtown core to protest the Olympics.
Despite a heavy police presence, the Olympic countdown clock at the Vancouver Art Gallery was vandalized. It had red paint thrown on it.
Damage is minor and no arrests have been made. The vandals took off right away - leaving behind hoodies.
This is not the first time the clock has been vandalized.
An article on the lack of public events organized by Vanoc, ever fearful of protests:
In Whistler they are partying. But Vancouver, it's a much different story.
For years, the 2010 host city has celebrated every milestone on the Olympic journey. Not anymore. There isn't a single public event planned for the one-year countdown day for what some call the No-Fun City.
The city had been celebrating since it won the Games, but Vancouver's mayor, Gregor Robertson, dropped the puck on this one.
"Tomorrow there isn't big parties all across the city. There's so much energy focused on pulling the Games together, and the venues specifically, so all of the focus has been there in preparing. Unfortunately no work has been done for the big public celebration," he told CTV News on Wednesday.
While there's no special one-year countdown celebration in Vancouver there is one at the Richmond Speed Skating Oval. This is where Vancouver's mayor will be, along with Premier Gordon Campbell and IOC president Jacques Rogge. There'll be special performances and Olympic Athletes, but it is not a public celebration.
No parties in the host city? Beijing had a big bash for its one-year countdown -- why not us?
"That's a good question," said Robertson. "We gotta kick the fun into gear here."
There will be a public celebration in Whistler -- an outdoor concert in village square. Could it be previous protests have made Olympic organizers gun-shy about Vancouver?
"It's really a case of trying to manage crowds -- there's tremendous interest but only limited number of seats," said Colin Hansen, the provincial minister responsible for the Olympics.
"There are some challenges that come from the amount of size, scope and the amount of security in terms of safety, not even necessarily in regard to protest," said Maureen Douglas of VANOC.
But if you are looking for something to do, you can ride SkyTrain -- TransLink wants you to bring your "horns, cowbells and tambourines" and make some noise at 6 p.m. Or you can head to Canada Place where the heritage horns will blow at 6 p.m. and you are encouraged to "clap, sing, whistle or cheer."
They're having way more fun in other provinces -- flag raising in Parliament Hill, torch lighting in Calgary -- but nothing in Vancouver.
With a report from CTV
ORN Press Statement:
THURS FEB 12TH. STARTS AT 6 PM AT VICTORY SQUARE (CAMBIE AND HASTINGS)
February 11 2009- VANCOUVER- With one year remaining for the opening ceremonies of Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympics, opposition to the Games continues to grow. To mark the one-year countdown, the Olympics Resistance Network is organizing an anti-Olympics torch light parade on Thursday February 12th, which will start at Victory Square (Cambie and Hastings).
According to Alissa Westergard-Thorpe of the Olympics Resistance Network,“By organizing a public torch light parade through the streets of Vancouver while military helicopters circle overhead and the police rehearse suppressing dissent, we are hoping to shed some light on the negative impacts of the 2010 Olympics.”
According to a widely reported Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll conducted last month, only 52% of British Columbians feel that the Games have more benefits than drawbacks.
Just in the past month, residents have been forced to foot the bill for the Olympics Athletes Village and also found out that the total Olympics bill could top $7 billion.
This week, with over 1000 security and military personnel descending upon Vancouver for Olympic training exercises, civil liberties organizations including the Federal Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart have raised significant concerns about mass surveillance and privacy rights.
According to Gord Hill of the Olympics Resistance Network “We are seeing increasing dissatisfaction to the 2010 Olympics because it is more evident to Vancouverites that the Games are not bringing prosperity. While Olympic corporate sponsors are getting bailed out with taxpayer dollars, Indigenous lands are being stolen, more people are becoming homeless, the environment is being destroyed, and millions of dollars are being sunk into invasive security and military measures.”
Under the banner of “No Olympics on Stolen Native Land”, activists are highlighting the negative impacts of the Olympic Games on Indigenous peoples and lands, citing the disproportionate number of Indigenous people represented amongst the poor and homeless population in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the justification the Games has provided for the surveillance and repression of defiant Indigenous communities, and expedited processes for the corporate ravage of unceded Indigenous territories.
According to Angela Sterritt of Native 2010 Resistance, “It is the reality of strong opposition to the Olympic Games by Native peoples that has forced VANOC to desperately try and create the perception of Native support for the Olympics by throwing a lot of money to a few select people. The Four Host First Nations do not represent the people, they are a corporate body.”
Start: Feb 15 2009 - 19:00
End: Feb 15 2009 - 21:00
Sunday Feb 15 - Speaking Truth to Power
Vancouver writer Chris Shaw discusses Olympic Insecurity and the Cost to Communities, including the impact of unprecedented surveillance and military patrols. Over the past five years, Shaw's hard-hitting and tireless analysis has earned him the reputation as Vancouver's foremost advocate for social policy change. Shaw's earlier warnings of skyrocketing costs, heavy-handed secrecy, environmental destruction and repressive "security" are confirmed every day in the news headlines. Shaw will share the latest information and his forecast for BC in 2010.
The Olympic crackdown is coming! We're getting ready -- are you? Sponsored by VIPIRG and VIC FAN. Proceeds benefit VIC FAN and subMedia.Volunteers get in free.
February 15, 2009
Start: Feb 20 2009 - 18:30
End: Feb 20 2009 - 21:00
Olympic Resistance Film Night
Featuring a variety of short anti-Olympic documentaries and excerpts from 5 Ring Circus.
$3-$5 dollar sliding scale admissionDrinks and snacks by donation.
Start: Feb 28 2009 - 16:30
End: Feb 28 2009 - 19:00
Why I Oppose 2010:
We know you already know that mega-corporate industries like the 2010 Games and Tar Sands suck. But how does it affect displacement of peoples from their land, their homes, their jobs, their communities. From traditional Indigenous territories to urban ghettos, from migrant workers to low-income families, thousands are being evicted or pushed out, and once displaced many become cannon-fodder as precarious labour.
As intense policing and security measures (like 1000+ military personal inVancouver earlier this month for training exercises!) disproportionatelytarget the dispossessed, the ones with the wrong skin colour, the undesirables, we rise in struggle against injustice. against the ongoing occupation of this land. against the racist police state. against the exploitation of displaced migrant workers. against gentrification and so-called revitalization. For our dignity as the poor, the displaced, the colonized.
Join us - our struggle is your struggle. Plus this event will be awesome, informative, you'll meet other cool people and we will give you food :)
There will be rad speakers including:
*** JADA VOYAGEUR ***
a young single mother and activist from Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (Alberta) who will be speaking about front-linestruggles of and impacts on Indigenous communities as a result of the Tar Sands.
Organized by No One Is Illegal-Vancouver with the support of Native 2010 Resistance, Indigenous Free Skool, Tar Sands Free BC.
For more info email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 778 885 0040