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(en) Canada, Vancouver, Media: Anti Olympic demonstration

Date Sat, 13 Feb 2010 18:01:00 +0200

Protesters push against police lines outside BC Place Stadium before the start of the opening ceremony. ---- There were some tense moments but the march by thousands of anti-Olympic protesters to BC Place Stadium was a mostly peaceful affair that did not disrupt the arrival of spectators to the 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.

Demonstrators started shouting "the whole world is watching" but gradually the tension dissipated and many protesters began to walk back toward 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 bandanas, 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 booster-ism. That's shameful."

Standing along the protesters were many neutral onlookers 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 Commercial Drive

Friday morning and forced the Olympic torch tour to be quickly rerouted.
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