Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The news media are abuzz in the last 24 hours over an incident during the Olympic Torch run in Guelph Ontario. The torchbearer, Cortney Hansen, was allegedly knocked over by a protester. There is, however, another side of the story, one that seems quite probable given the photograph above. The demonstrators allege that Hanson fell over because she collided with a policeman in the security detail. In other words she "tripped over a cop". The offending object in its Olympic outfit can be clearly seen in the photo above. The following article is from Global TV. Note that while the "stumble over cop" version is given that this take on the events is well buried below a headline that says the opposite. The same sequence of events was also reported by Tony Saxon, a reporter for the Guelph Mercury, who was apparently an eyewitness to the events. His story can be seen here. I find it interesting that the vast majority of news reports tell nothing about this other side of the story. By the time the matter has been clarified via the courts the Winter Olympics will probably have already come and gone, and it is doubtful if any retractions will be published at all, let alone timely ones. Here's the story.
Olympic torch bearer knocked over by protester:
Katherine Laidlaw, Dean Tester and Philip Ling, Canwest News Service:
HANOVER, Ont. — A woman carrying the Olympic torch was knocked down by a protester Monday morning during the Olympic torch run in Guelph, Ont.

Brittney Simpson, 19, from Kitchener, Ont., was arrested and has been charged with assault, according to Guelph Police Service. She is scheduled appear in court in February.

Simpson allegedly knocked the torchbearer — Cortney Hansen, 28, from Milton, Ont., — to the ground at about 7:50 a.m. Monday morning.

A crowd of demonstrators appeared and disrupted the relay but the torch remained lit, police said. Hansen was treated at the scene for her injuries by Olympic Torch Run medical staff, but got back up and continued her leg of the relay.

A spokesman for the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee said the disruption was an “isolated incident” and was responded to “rapidly and appropriately” by the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit and the RCMP. The two groups are responsible for the safety and security of the torchbearer and the escort team.

“It is unfortunate that this torchbearer’s once-in-a-lifetime experience with the Olympic flame was disrupted in this manner,” said torch relay director Jim Richards.

“We understand that the Olympic Games are a high-profile event and will attract attention and that people have the right to express their opinions,” he said. “We ask that they do so peacefully and respectfully.”

The incident occurred in front of about 1,000 children and parents who attended the festivities, police said in a release.

Simpson is part of an anti-racism protest group known as Kitchener-Waterloo Anti-Racism Action, gathered to protest the flame passing over native land and the continued poverty in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, according to protester Alex Hundert.

Hundert said the protest was meant to be peaceful and blamed the police for the incident.

“The RCMP people kind of freaked out and basically caused the person with the torch to stutter-step and then trip,” he said. “And then things got much worse, because as that person went down, they basically (started) . . . what sounds like a minor attack on the protesters.

"Basically, the relay team caused a disaster and the police decided they needed to arrest somebody."

A local reporter said it appeared the woman fell after bumping into a police officer. (NB-MOLLY )

“The 28-year-old Milton woman hit the ground hard ... seemingly tripping over the leg of a police officer who was struggling with protesters trying to interrupt Hansen’s Olympic moment in downtown Guelph,” Tony Saxon of the Guelph Mercury wrote.

There have been protests throughout the torch relay, but it has been mainly peaceful.

The relay route was altered Dec. 21 as the torch made its way through the Six Nations community in Grand River, Ont. The move was a response to anticipated conflict with protesters.

One of the protesters gathered outside a news conference that day said she was protesting the Olympics as a call to fair treatment of aboriginal people in Canada.

The torch was briefly delayed in Toronto Dec. 17 when hundreds of protesters filled the streets shouting, "No Olympics on stolen native land!"

Several groups in Victoria caused disturbances early in the torch’s national relay. Though that protest began peacefully in late October, it grew to a parade of around 200 people who effectively blocked the route and cut 10 torchbearers out of the relay.

One protester that said there is concern about the amount of money being spent on the games when budgets for health and education are being stretched.

Later Monday, on the Saugeen First Nation leg of the relay, there was no sign of protest.
Community members gathered around a fire outside the Ojibwa reserve band office awaiting the flame.

Nearly 50 Olympic supporters stood, some waving signs and carrying Canadian, Ontario and aboriginal flags.

Adam Kahgee, one of the flag bearers, said the community was supportive of the Olympic relay.

He said he appreciated the relay’s efforts to reach as many Canadians as possible, keeping with what he called the “for-the-people attitude of the Olympics.”

“I think it’s a great thing,” the 27-year-old Saugeen resident said.

He added that although no one in his community was protesting, those who have demonstrated in other regions are entitled to their opinions.

“Obviously, everybody has a different opinion and can express those opinions. It’s Canada, right?” he said.

“There are two sides to every story and it’s good that both sides are being heard.”

Randy Roote, whose nephew Blaine was another Saugeen torchbearer, said more community members came out to support the relay than he expected.

“I haven’t heard any bad feedback. It’s a big thing for our people to have the torch coming through,” he said, adding that one day maybe his community will have an Olympian of its own.
Earlier Monday, Day 60 of the relay found the torch passing through Erin, Orangeville, Hanover and Walkerton.

“Don’t drink the water there.” That’s the tired phrase Colin Wells heard when he told people where he would be carrying the Olympic flame during his portion of the relay.

Walkerton is perhaps best known for the E. coli tragedy from nearly a decade ago, when contaminated water resulted in seven deaths and widespread illness.

With supporters carrying flags and homemade Olympic rings lined the streets, cheering in support of the torch, Wells said he hopes being touched by the flame will remove some of the town’s negative stigma.

“That’s getting old. I really hope it brings some positivity to the town. It’s such a nice town — we get the best sausage at our local place.”

As the 39-year-old London, Ont., resident carried the torch over a bridge and into the town, snow blustered around him and coated his glasses. The wintry conditions didn’t put out his flame — although a torchbearer later in the relay in Walkerton wasn’t as lucky, as her flame had to be re-ignited twice.

Wells was joined by his wife and 17-year-old son, as well as his father, who was dressed in his original red and white torchbearer suit, with the words “Calgary ’88” printed on his back.

Both Wells and his father had carried the torch in the 1988 Calgary Olympic torch relay, after Wells filled out countless applications for both of them until they were both chosen and passed the torch off between them.

Wells said he believes in the spirit of the Olympics, and doesn’t understand why the flame encounters protesters.

“It’s horrible,” he said. “We had an aboriginal girl on our leg of the relay and she didn’t have a problem with the Olympics. I don’t understand it.”

Later, in Owen Sound, where the torch ended its day’s run Monday night, things smoothly until its second-last leg, when runner Peter Kelly bent to light the flame of the next torch bearer, Paralympic medalist and quadriplegic Jason Crone, and it didn’t work.

"I went to light Jason’s and it wouldn’t light," Kelly said. "You think these torches are light but after running 300 metres with it and holding it for five minutes, it’s heavy!"

As Kelly began his portion, the self-described "Olympic nut" said he tried to go slowly to absorb what was going on around him.

"It was unbelievable, the crowds were amazing. The kids with their own torches, and there was this one guy who had made this huge torch out of cardboard. Everyone was waving as we went by," he said.

Kelly said he’s carried the regret of not running in the relay for the Calgary 1988 Olympics with him for the past 21 years. "The first time I ever saw the Olympics, it was on a tiny black and white TV at the cottage. You could only make out traces of what was happening but I was absolutely fascinated," he said. "It’s just the idea of gathering the best in the world, you know?"

After VANOC escorts dismantled Crone’s torch and got it lit, the relay started again.

Crone, who completed the final leg of the torch relay for Day 60, won a bronze medal in wheelchair rugby at the Beijing Paralympics and is an Owen Sound native. He lit the community cauldron at the city’s celebration after the relay concluded for the day.

The torch relay begins again Tuesday for Day 61, and is expected to pass through Blue Mountain, Collingwood and Wasaga Beach, before stopping for the night in Barrie.

The torch’s trek began Oct. 30 in Victoria. It will make an appearance in 1,000 communities before Feb. 12, when it reaches its final destination of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.


Larry Gambone said...

This is typical of the blatant lying going on - remember the "protesters throwing marbles at police horses" story...

Larry Gambone said...

This is typical of the blatant lying going on - remember the "protesters throwing marbles at police horses" story...

mollymew said...

Larry is referring to a "story" (oh what a "story") in the mass media about actions at the recent anti-olympic protest at the end of October in Victoria BC. It was alleged that demonstrators threw marbles, hoping to make the police horses lose their footing. The story gradually shrunk to nothing and, guess what, no retractions. See the Porkupine Blog at http://porkupineblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/olympic-torch-protest-so-called-marble.html for details.

Anonymous said...

Your endorsement of anti-olympic violence is shameful.

mollymew said...

Dear "anonymous",
Read what I wrote above. What I was saying is that the story of violence WAS FALSE ie A LIE. How this can be misinterpretted as "endorsement" is beyond me. For what it is worth, to help out those who flunked "reading comprehension" , I DO NOT endorse any such violence as what was FALSELY reported to have occurred. I do, however, KNOW that a blind willingness to believe lies will lead to an endorsement of pretty well ANY violence committed by the side that you think is right. Once more, reread the goddamn article...or perhaps read it in the first place.

Larry Gambone said...

How is that most Nonnymice are idiots?