A Report on 2010 Heart Attack

A Report on 2010 Heart Attack

2010 Heart Attack: Vancouver Olympics Opening Day
By Scott Harris| February 14, 2010, Council of Canadians Blog

The major mobilization on Saturday, dubbed the "2010 Heart Attack" began
in the early hours of the morning, with around 300 activists gathering at
Thornton Park under a heavy police presence to march through the streets
of Vancouver in an attempt to disrupt "business as usual" on the opening
day of competition of the 2010 Games.

The march departed from Thornton Park just after 9:00 am, with the goal of
reaching the intersection of Denman and Georgia, where buses destined for
the Whistler venues have to pass. Police on bicycles ringed the march as
it snaked its way through the streets towards the upscale downtown,
turning up Hastings Street and moving into the heart of the city, nearly
abandoned streets giving way to larger crowds as it progressed.

Early on an apparent agent provocateur moved into the crowd, pushing and
taunting marchers before darting to the sidewalk, at times stopping to
talk with police before running forward to taunt the crowd again. As the
protest moved through the streets, some participants overturned mailboxes
and newspaper boxes, pulling them into the street in an attempt to block

Minor property damage occurred along that march, and as demonstrators
reached the shopping district of Georgia Street, a group of protesters
broke one of the display windows of the Hudson's Bay building, one of the
national sponsors of the Games, and one which has come under criticism for
both its long history of colonialism and its sourcing of Olympics sweaters
from China rather than the Cowichan nation. A ball of red paint was also
thrown at the window. Despite a heavy presence at the scene, no arrests
were made.

As the march continued through the downtown, with chants of "No justice,
no peace" and "Whose streets? Our streets!" echoing through the buildings,
the police presence intensified. Vans full of police in full riot gear
descended on the march, and the number of police on bicycles increased
markedly. With those on bicycles forcing onlookers and some of the
marchers to the sidewalk, the riot police moved in from behind the
marchers, with numerous police cars and wagons following closely behind.
There were scuffles as the police moved to isolate the main body of the
march from legal observers and onlookers who were filming, and one woman
was arrested after being wrestled to the ground by a number of officers.

The marchers were eventually surrounded by riot police, some of whom were
armed with automatic weapons while others brandished plexiglass shields
and batons. After police on bicycles stopped a group of onlookers from
proceeding, separating them from the march by about half a block, police
moved in and made a number of arrests. Some in the crowd fought back or
attempted to "un-arrest" those targeted by the police. Both riot police
and police on bicycles forced observers and legal teams to the sidewalks
as they put those arrested into wagons. As the police moved in and divided
the crowd by creating wedges between different groups of protesters, some
smaller groups split from the main march, some of them pursued by groups
of police.

Smaller groups spread throughout the downtown core were split off by
police and surrounded by riot police at a number of locations. One group
of about 30 people, which included a marching band and a number of
dancers, were surrounded on all sides by riot police as supporters were
kept at a distance by heavily armed police and police on bicycles. The
crowd, which was forced to the sidewalk by police by threats of arrest
chanted "Let them go!" as those surrounded by the police held their hands
in peace signs and attempted to negotiate their way to the sidewalk. As
the standoff between trumpets and truncheons continued, some in the crowd
turned to chants of "This is weird. Let them go." After being surrounded
for over half an hour and prevented from leaving, the police eventually
allowed the band and its supporters to disperse.

In all a total of 13 arrests were reported by the legal support team, and
five are being held and may be charged. Protesters have begun jail support
at the police station at 222 Main in support of those arrested.

By 4:00 pm, the most heavily damaged window at Hudson's Bay Co. had been

Scott Harris is the Prairies Regional Organizer for the Council of Canadians