Games Over! Rally Ends with Deployment of Riot Squad

Games Over! Rally Ends with Deployment of Riot Squad

Games Over! Rally Ends with Deployment of Riot Squad

On Sunday February 28, some 200 protesters took to the streets as part of a 'Games Over! Resistance Lives' rally on the day of the closing ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Gathering in the downtown area just blocks from BC Place, the protesters were initially blocked by lines of Vancouver police from moving down some streets.
Unlike the opening ceremonies protest of Feb 12, in which some 3-4,000 people participated after several months of organizing, the Feb 28 rally was organized with just a few days notice.
As the Games Over! rally progressed, pro-Olympic hockey fans viewing the final game between Canada and the USA came out to heckle and shout obscenities. Beginning at around 2:30PM, the rally began disrupting traffic on Hastings Street, a major artery with two 'Olympics lanes'.
At 3PM, the protesters formed a large circle at Hastings & Main, completely shutting down traffic. Speakers and singers kept the crowd occupied until 4PM, when a smudge ceremony was held to honour Harriet Nahanee, a Pacheedaht elder who died as a result of her imprisonment for blockading the Sea-to-Sky highway expansion in 2006.
By 4:30PM, the protest made its way to the Olympic Tent Village for the camp's 2-week celebration. While free food & entertainment were provided inside the village, Hastings was again blocked and would remain so until 4:30AM as tents and chairs were placed in the street. Vancouver police re-routed heavy traffic on side streets, clearly overwhelmed with the massive Olympic crowds in the downtown core.
The occupied street was only cleared after some 40 members of the Vancouver Police Crowd Control Unit (CCU), wearing helmets ('hard hat') and some carrying rifles and 'less-lethal' projectile launchers, marched into the street and ordered it cleared. K9 units also accompanied the CCU. There were no arrests.
Altogether, the protest action lasted some 15 hours, with Hastings Street being blocked for over 12 hours.
The Olympic Tent Village is to be dismantled by the occupants today (March 1). As a result of the camp, some 41 occupants were 'fast-tracked' by BC Housing into low-rent apartments around the city. The tent village was organized by the Downtown Eastside Power of Women's group, and endorsed by Streams of Justice.

Olympic protest goes head to head with hockey

By ANNE M. PETERSON, The Associated Press/Washington Post
Sunday, February 28, 2010
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Update to the age-old question, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" What is the sound of an Olympic protest in Vancouver during a gold-medal hockey game?

Few appeared to notice when a small group of protesters marched through downtown Sunday. The demonstration was held in the midst of the showdown game between the United States and Canada.

"The timing may appear awkward," said Eric Doherty, who represented a group that opposed highway expansion because of the games. "But this is sort of our closing ceremony. We put out effort into the start of the games. This is capping it off, so to speak."

About 200 protesters wound their way through downtown Vancouver as dozens of police officers on bicycles looked on. There were no arrests.
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One woman lofted a banner reading "Homes Not Games," another said "2010 Corporate Circus."

Police say there were no arrests but there were shouting matches with hockey fans on the streets. When protesters yelled "Shame!" at one group, the fans responded by singing the Canadian national anthem.

Police say there were no arrests.

The march was organized by the Olympic Resistance Network, an umbrella group for many causes surrounding the games, ranging from environmental to economic issues. The most prominent involve native Indians who want to reclaim property. ("No Olympics on Stolen Ancient Land") and those angry over the amount of money spent on Olympics as opposed to public housing ("Homes Not Games").

"Shame on you Canada! Shame on our government!" said Stella August, a native woman who addressed the crowd.

The protest was in sharp contrast to the one at the start of the games. On the first day of competition, more than 200 masked protesters clashed with police in riot gear. The protesters hurled newspaper boxes through windows of a department store selling Olympic souvenirs. No one was injured.

To date, 12 people have been arrested and investigation is ongoing, police said Sunday.

Police Chief Jim Chu said the disturbance was caused by a loosely organized anarchist group known to disrupt events that draw media coverage said. The group wears masks to hide identities.

Renee Smith-Valade, a spokeswoman for the Vancouver organizers, said: "Expressing an opinion in a peaceful and constructive way is part of what Canada's all about, but we don't support disruption, violence or property damage."

Just before the games, several thousand protesters staged an anti-Olympics "Take Back Our Streets" march. They headed to the stadium where the opening ceremony was held, and a mostly peaceful standoff with police near B.C. Place lasted about two hours. The protest also was staged by ORN.

The group said three people were arrested in that protest; the police reported just one arrest.