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PROTESTERS GREET “OLYMPIC TORCH PRACTICE RUN” IN DOWNTOWN VICTORIA

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PROTESTERS GREET “OLYMPIC TORCH PRACTICE RUN” IN DOWNTOWN VICTORIA

“OLYMPIC TORCH” CONFRONTED BY ANTI-OLYMPICS PROTEST AT ROYAL BANK LOCATION

VICTORIA, COAST SALISH TERRITORIES, MAY 21, 2009 – The Royal Bank-sponsored “Olympic Torch Practice Run” was greeted at its first stop by a “Practice Protest” in downtown Victoria this morning.

A prototype of the Olympic Torch is visiting five Victoria RBC locations this week to “practice” for the Olympic Torch Relay, which will begin at Mile Zero in Victoria on October 30, 2009. The “Olympic Torch Welcoming Committee” wielded banners, signs, and noisemakers to “practice” protesting the Olympic Torch relay.

“We’re here today because homeless people could be housed for a fraction of what the Torch Relay is costing taxpayers,” said spokesperson Zoe Blunt. “We’re here because First Nations peoples’ land rights are still violated daily, social justice activists are facing increasing harassment and surveillance, and our children and grandchildren will still be paying for this extravagance years from now.”

Chief of Police Jamie Graham warned activists gathered inside the bank that they would be arrested if they “defaced” property after one person wrote “No Olympics on Stolen Land” on a banner made available for public signing.

Other members of the “Olympic Torch Welcoming Committee” were expelled from the public celebrations inside RBC by Victoria police and private security guards for carrying anti-Olympic signs drawn on cardboard.

On the street outside the Fort and Douglas RBC location, protesters were under the close surveillance of uniformed and plain-clothed police.

“We’re quite surprised that a group of 30 Victoria residents with
hand-painted banners, signs and one megaphone merited such a hefty security presence”, said No 2010 Victoria organizer Tamara Herman. “We could think of better ways of spending the $1 billion security bill for the 2010 Olympics. Then again, we could also think of better ways of spending the $500,000 that the City of Victoria has put aside for the Torch Relay.”

RBC has received negative attention for its sponsorship of the 2010 Games and its investments in Alberta's tar sands environmental disaster.

No 2010 Victoria, a coalition of anti-Olympic activists and groups, is organizing a campaign targeted the Torch Relay and its corporate sponsors.

For more information: No 2010 Victoria, www.no2010victoria.net

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