Opening Ceremonies Protests: Corporate Media Accounts

Opening Ceremonies Protests: Corporate Media Accounts

2,000 Protest Opening Ceremonies of 2010 Olympics

Police clash with anti-Olympic protesters
CBC News, Friday, February 12, 2010
Rows of police prevent anti-Olympic protesters from getting within 200 metres of BC Place, site of the opening ceremonies Friday night. Rows of police prevent anti-Olympic protesters from getting within 200 metres of BC Place, site of the opening ceremonies Friday night. (CBC)

Anti-Olympic protesters clashed with police in downtown Vancouver on Friday night as the marchers tried to approach BC Place, where opening ceremonies for the 2010 Games were underway.

Some protesters sprayed vinegar in officers' eyes, threw sticks, and spit on officers, police said.

Two officers were injured with flying objects and one was sent to hospital with a shoulder injury but was treated and released, said Const. Lindsey Houghton.

The 125 officers assembled in two rows, along with six police officials on horseback and managed to hold back the crowd, estimated at 1,500.

No protesters were injured.

One man was taken into custody and is facing a charge of assault, Houghton said.

Protesters got as far as the corner of Robson and Beatty streets before being stopped at the police lines, about 200 metres from BC Place stadium.

The protesters rallied outside the Vancouver Art Gallery at 3 p.m. before starting their seven-block walk to the stadium. They marched along West Georgia Street to Homer Street, where they turned south then east on Robson toward BC Place, where the ceremonies began at 6 p.m. local time.
Anti-Olympic protesters march along Robson Street in downtown Vancouver on Friday as the opening ceremonies were set to begin. Anti-Olympic protesters march along Robson Street in downtown Vancouver on Friday as the opening ceremonies were set to begin. (CBC)

Placards carried by the demonstrators suggested many disagreed with spending taxpayer money on the Games instead of targeting social problems.

Organizers said they wanted the protest to remain peaceful.

About 200 protesters forced organizers to reroute the Olympic torch relay twice early Friday as the runners made their way through the Downtown Eastside.

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Two officers injured in protest; one arrested
Upwards of 1,500 protest marchers opposed to the Vancouver Winter Olympics were stopped short of reaching the site of the Games' opening ceremonies Friday evening by a three-deep line of police.

The protest was largely peaceful, with only one arrest after two officers were hurt during a confrontation when marchers came face to face with police.

The chanting demonstrators, who are opposed to the Games for all kinds of reasons, had hoped to reach the plaza of B.C. Place Stadium, where 60,600 people were witnessing the colourful spectacle.

"We knew this was going to be a successful march from the beginning," said Sozan Savehilaghi, an organizer with the anti-Olympic 2010 Welcoming Committee. "People we were talking to on the streets when we were flyering, everybody was like, 'Yeah, the Olympics is really like a pain."'

But the police, clad in fluorescent yellow vests and baseball caps, blocked protesters on the street in front of the stadium. Behind the human barricade was a line of horse-mounted officers dressed in riot gear, their horses' eyes covered by protective shields.

The protest was largely peaceful until objects began being hurled at police from inside a group of masked, black-clad demonstrators shielded by their own large banners.

Police reacted by beginning to push the crowd back step-by-step. Scuffles broke out on the front line as banners were torn down.

Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu said two officers were hurt -- one stabbed in the hand by a pointed stick, the other taken to hospital after being hit in the shoulder by something thrown from the crowd.

Chu said one protester was arrested and would likely face an assault charge.

The protest began a few blocks away at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the city's traditional site of demonstrations.

Some groups were opposed to the Games on grounds the money would be better spent helping the homeless and alleviating poverty on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, or that despite claims of being green they were a blot on the environment.

Despite the partnership of four First Nations in the Games, aboriginal dissidents protested the Olympics were taking place on stolen land while many natives live in poverty.

But others -- opposed to Canadian troops in Afghanistan, upset at a road-building project outside Vancouver -- had no apparent connection to the anti-Olympic movement.

Chu said the demonstrators were able to exercise their right to protest but police were there to prevent the marchers from potentially disrupting the opening ceremonies.

"That line had several surges during the evening, with protesters trying to get past the line," he said.

"I can tell you our officers acted with exceptional restraint, and in the end the protesters even shook some of the officers' hands before they left."

Chu said the final legal of the torch run, which had been diverted a couple of times earlier Friday, was not affected by the march.

Anti-Olympic protest mostly peaceful, despite tense moments
By Doug Ward, Vancouver Sun, February 12, 2010

Protestors push against Vancouver police lines Thursday outside the BC Place before the start of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games to protest the Olympics and poverty.

VANCOUVER -- There were some tense moments but the march by thousands of anti-Olympic protesters to B.C. Place stadium Thursday was a mostly peaceful affair that did not disrupt the arrival of spectators to the 2010 Olympic opening ceremony.

The police allowed the protest march of about 2,000 people to proceed unimpeded from the Vancouver Art Gallery to the corner of Beatty and Robson in front of the stadium.

A nearly two-hour standoff between two phalanxes of police and protesters followed with the anarchist black flag waving about 40 meters in front of the Terry Fox monument and beside the Alberta House where people drank beer and watched the opening ceremony on television.

At one point there was pushing and shoving between police and protesters when a small group of demonstrators surged toward the police with a banner made of bamboo.

The police grabbed the bamboo banner, linked arms and briefly pushed back against the crowd.

Said Vancouver police in a statement after the standoff: "Protesters intent on provoking police moved to the front of the line and began throwing traffic barricades around. Their tactics then escalated as they sprayed vinegar in officers' eyes, threw sticks, and spit on members.Officers on the front line maintained restraint and despite several surges from the crowd, the line held steady."

Demonstrators started shouting “the whole world is watching” but gradually the tension dissipated and many protesters began to walk back towards the art gallery.

The anti-Olympic demonstrators began the march chanting their signature slogan: “No Olympics on Stolen Native Land.”

As they marched along Georgia Street underneath the giant posters of Olympic athletes on the wall of The Bay department store, a small group of anarchists in black hoodies and bandannas, began chanting “this is a ...class war” and “smash...the state.”

Protest organizer Alissa Westergard-Thorpe, midway into the march, said she was happy with the event.

“We’ve had a really lively festival at the art gallery and we’re having a really boisterous march. We’re happy that so far we’ve been allowed to exercise our rights to expression and assembly.”

Another protest leader, Chris Shaw, speaking to the crowd at the outset, said that “I’ve been dreaming about this for seven years.”

He applauded the demonstrators for confronting the “Olympic circus”

He added that “I wasn’t very proud of my country when I watched the flags go up and all the hooliganism and boosterism. That’s shameful.”

Standing along the protesters were many neutral rubber-neckers who came to watch what would happen. “This protest is about five years too late,” said Jay Sher, who was waiting for his daughter who was attending the opening ceremony.

“But most of us are here to watch to see if the protesters cross the police line. It’s like watching a NASCAR race and waiting to see the crash.”

The protesters carried banners that read: “5 RINGS SHACKLE US TO DEBT,” “ALL OF CANADA IS A FREEDOM OF SPEECH ZONE.”

International media jogged amid the crowd and climbed on top of barricades and newspaper boxes to take photographs.

Earlier on Friday more than 200 protesters - many of them dressed in black with their faces covered by scarves - blocked traffic along Commer
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