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14 February 2010 – Natpress
Source: washingtonpost.com





(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) (Gene J. Puskar - AP)

By JAIME ARON

The Associated Press

Saturday, February 13, 2010; 12:23 AM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- About 1,500 protesters staged an anti-Olympics, "Take Back Our Streets" rally Friday afternoon, then marched to the stadium where the opening ceremony was being held.

Hundreds of police were there waiting for them, halting their progress across the street from B.C. Place. The standoff lasted roughly two hours - from about an hour before the ceremony til nearly the end of the parade of nations - with some activists hurling sticks from their placards, orange barricades and water bottles toward the officers. The only response from police was some shoving to get the throng a few feet farther back.

Alissa Westergard-Thorpe of the organizing group - the Olympic Resistance Network - said the day absolutely was a success.

"Thousands of people in the street is always a success," she said. "The turnout was fantastic. We certainly disrupted the imagery that you can be here and people can be silent."

The ORN is a coalition bringing together dozens of causes, all with the Olympics at their core. The most prominent involved native Indians who want to reclaim their property ("No Olympics on Stolen Ancient Land") and folks angry that so much money is being spent on the Olympics without much going to public housing ("Homes Not Games").

Environmentalists, poverty fighters and those angry about the money spent fixing up roads also were heard. Much of the ire was aimed at politicians and corporate sponsors. There also was a group already protesting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Many of the activists were part of gatherings earlier Friday that forced two detours on the torch relay.

"There was such a diversity of people out here all day," said Harsha Walia of ORN. "People need to know the corporate, sanitized image needs to be opposed - and has been."

The rally was held on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the plaza in front was packed.

Organizers told everyone a hot line had been set up for anyone who got arrested, and people went around with markers writing the number on the forearms of whoever wanted it. They also passed out fliers with a list of protesters' rights. Vancouver police said one person was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer.

Early on, there was a dustup involving counter-protesters who carried signs that read, "They say protest, we say party." The main rally also had to compete with a performance by the Carnival Band, whose purpose was to support the message of the protesters yet with the attitude of the counter-protesters.

"It's a very divided scene," said band member Jesse Whitehead. "We try to mitigate things by dressing up in bright colors and playing music. The world has descended upon Vancouver - don't wreck it. The money's already been spent."

When the rally ended and the march began, the protesters filled an entire city block. It took about an hour to make the 2-mile walk past the Olympic superstore, the main post office and downtown library, then up the final blocks to B.C. Place.

The eclectic group included guys on stilts holding twigs, a couple in Winnie the Pooh and Tigger outfits and a man wearing boxing gloves. A group from Victoria made a roughly 30-foot salmon.

Then there was the variety of signs, such as: "The rich play, the rest pay;" "Yes to Olympic athletes, no to legacy of debt;" and "I (heart) the Olympics. I (heart) free speech more."

There was a series that read: "Do YOU believe in (various themes)? The Canadian government DOES!" with themes including torture, debt, collective punishment, military coups and child abandonment.

One man draped himself in a large black cloth with the words, "illegal anti-Olympic sign." Someone else wrote, "More arts funding means better protest signs"
There was even an throwback soda advocate: "Bring back Crystal Pepsi."

Опубликовал administrator, 14-02-2010, 19:40. Просмотров: 779
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