Amy Judd, thanks for getting this story out so quickly. It will now show up on the home page for four hours. If new developments justify it, I'll renew this flag for another cycle.
Vancouver Olympic Protest February 13 2010 Turns Violent
A Vancouver Olymipc protest that took place Saturday February 13 2010 turned violent with about 200 protesters dressed all in black smashing the windows of a department store, the Hudson's Bay Company Olymipc Store, kicking and vandalizing cars parked along the street and causing havoc. Police showed up with batons, bullet-proof vests and some machine guns and attempted to get the situation under control and made arrests. Watch a video of the protest (graphic footage).
An organizer of the protest, Harsha Walia, said that about 200 protesters were gathered downtown, but Alissa Westergard-Thorpe of the Olympic Resistance Network, who disavowed her group from the violence of the protest, said this was:
"a day of autonomous actions, independent groups, with a diversity of tactics around the Olympics.''
She continued on to say that the arrests that were made were not of the people who committed violence, and she stated that the action of the protest was non-violent as no person was hurt.
"The people who were arrested were simply marching down the street trying to assert their charter rights with the police. The arrests were unnecessarily violent."
Westergard-Thorpe did not condemn the broken windows and vandalism that touched off the stand-off.
She said that the police were the ones who were violent as they beat people, and physically pushed the crowd back and dragged people on the ground as they threw them in paddy wagons.
"People were trying to assert their right to assemble and express themselves."
Local photographer Kris Krug tweeted that he was hit in the face with a riot shield after being pushed back by police as he was trying to take photos.
The police showed up in riot gear with yellow vests on and confronted the rioters all dressed in black marching down Georgia Street. The protesters took photos of the police. See some photos of the protest today.
According to reports, about 30 protesters are marching through the West End of Vancouver, but some are abandoning the protest, by taking off their black clothes and stuffing them in to garbage cans.
Representatives of the International Olympic Committee and Vancouver organizers jointly told a news conference they support protest as long as it is not violent.
"Where we draw the line and where I suspect Canadians draw the line is when people get violent," Mark Adams of the IOC told a daily briefing.
According to Rebecca Bollwitt:
John also said that people along the way were trying to help by putting the mailboxes back upright after they were knocked down. He said the police told the helpful citizens to leave the boxes alone as they may just get knocked over again