Vancouver 2010: Olympic Opening Ceremony & Olympic Protests
With the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games and the Olympic Opening Ceremony fast approaching the corresponding Olympic Protests are also looming large in the city. Follow the NowPublic real-time Scan of the Protest.
While Olympic organizers and volunteers are busy with the rehearsals for the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, police and security forces are preparing for managing Olympic Protesters.
So far it seems everything is on track. Protesters plan to gather at the Vancouver Art Gallery at 300pm PST and make their way to BC Place for the 600pm Opening Cermony.
Security for the Vancouver Winter Games is being handled by the Vancouver Integrated Security Unit. A unit consisting of various police forces including the RCMP and the Vancouver Police Department.
"We're not going to stand by and wait until things get out of hand," said Staff Sgt. Mike Cote, spokesman for the RCMP's Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit. "We'll have to wait and see what we're confronted with." (source: The Province)
It is still unclear exactly how many people will show up for the Olympic Protest but some reports says too expect between 1,000 to 1,500 people.
VANOC CEO John Furlong expects everything to go smoothly.
"I know that people that are working to secure the Games will make sure it will all happen the way it should," Furlong added. "We expect Friday to go off well and if we have a few challenges, they'll be managed professionally and the best way that we can."
The anti-olympic resistance movement is a whole variety of groups including First Nations groups, anti-poverty activists, anti-globalization activists, all under the umbrella of the 2010 Welcoming Committee. A statement on their website says
What Is Wrong With The Olympics?"Tens of thousands of police, soldiers, security forces, and spies; exploitation of Indigenous land and resources; crackdowns on visible poverty; crony corporate deals and financial waste ($6 billion and counting); restrictions on public mobility and free expression (assembly, leaflets, street theatre, political signs and our voices); broken promises on social housing and shelter spaces; public video monitoring...."
Though all parties are expecting things to proceed peacefully the subtext is one of anxiety.What police are not talking about is if they will be wearing riot gear. In Vancouver, the relationship between protesters and police have always been uneasy. Confrontation is not unusual dating to the APEC protests in 1997.
Back then world leaders converged on Vancouver for a big international political summit and there was protests surrounding the presence of the Indonesian dictator at the time - signs were ordered taken down and police and protesters confronted each in ugly, violent incidents. The most infamous being a clash between student protesters and police at the University of British Columbia.
Now, those young protesters are all grown up and some are part of the Olympic Resistance Movement, people like Garth Mullins.
"Now a prominent figure in the anti-Olympics movement, Mullins has joined a growing chorus of voices that accuse police of heading down the same road to conflict once again. Unless things get better, they say, pre-Winter Games tensions could trigger an even higher profile confrontation in 2010.
"APEC was small-scale," said David Eby, acting executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. "There will be a huge number of tourists and visitors coming to the Vancouver area for the Games -- so the potential for embarrassment is significant."
The questions is have lessons been learned? If we head down the APEC path no one wins - neither the police nor the protesters, nor the city of Vancouver, nor Canada -because 12 thousand media are here and the speed at which a protester police clash story can spread and get amplified in the digital age of 2010 is frightening.
Update: Opening Ceremony Protest (Friday Feb 12, 5:08 PST)
So far reports indicate that Opening Ceremony Olympic Protest have been peaceful Police have set up barricades to keep the protesters away from BC Place Stadium but it appears protesters are marching and protesting without incident.
Watch the video below to get a sense of the those APEC confrontations in 1997