Protestors use Olympic platform to raise their voices
News / March 10, 2010
By Melissa Fraser [Culture Editor]
On Feb. 12 a crowd walked through the streets of downtown Vancouver. From the Art Gallery to the corner of Robson Street and Beatty Street, they blocked intersections, they beat drums and they faced off with the police. While the rest of the city was settling in to watch the opening ceremonies, between 2000-4000 Olympic protesters took to the streets.
“No Olympics on stolen native land,” and “What is democracy? This is democracy!” echoed off the high rises. From a distance the people shouting in balaclavas and would have given the protests a negative, angry feel. But for those among the crowd the energy was positive, despite the message of corporate and government shame.
That afternoon it seemed as though protestors and police were ready for a fight. Organizers made the crowd aware of their rights as citizens while the police showed up on horseback and occupied the rooftops of nearby buildings.
After acculumating just outside BC Place on Beatty Street one of two things had to happen: the protest would climax in violence, or it would fizzle as the boredom of inaction set in. The city saw the latter as organizers thanked the protestors and said that they would be at the intersection all night but everyone was welcome to leave.
The reaction from the Olympic-supporters was mixed. Some stopped and ask questions while others were completely against the message. A crowd of anti-protest protestors held signs that read “You say protest we say party.”
It was democracy at its finest. Just like we vote, or Stephen Harper campaigns, or the CBC reports on Parlaiment, protestors took advantage of their rights.
A number of other demonstrations popped up throughout the two weeks, including the ongoing Olympic Tent Village that was set up on West Hastings and the violent, window-smashing the morning of Feb. 13. But, of course, the Olympics went on and the media disregarded the protestors in favour of the partiers.
The protestors were the minority but they were a minority reminding the city that the Olympics were more than just a two week party. They were reminding officials that people were aware of the cost and the injustice the Olympics brought to some.