2010 Heart Attack disrupts Vancouver on day two of Winter Olympics

For almost two spirited hours today (February 13) under a grey morning sky, there was little doubt about who owned the downtown streets of Vancouver.

“Our streets!”, “Our streets!”, “Our streets!” anti-Olympic protesters defiantly chanted as they stepped off the sidewalk off Thornton Park at about 9:05 a.m. and occupied the northbound lane of Main Street, starting what turned out to be close to a full-blown riot.

Their ground zero: the intersection of Denman and Georgia streets where they hoped to block traffic going in and out of the Lions Gate Bridge, an artery leading to the skier paradise of Whistler.

It’s day two of the 2010 Olympic Games, an event that for years has stirred conflicting passions among many Vancouverites.

About 500 mostly black-clad and masked demonstrators showed up at the park for the event billed as "2010 Heart Attack". By the time they hit the streets, they were pumped up by what a leader promised on the bullhorn as “fuck day full of action”.

It didn’t take long before the action started, and right before the eyes of bicycle-riding police in yellow jackets.

At the intersection of Main and Wilson Streets, plastic road markers closing off the viaducts were toppled. At East Georgia Street, the first news box–Metro’s–came crashing down. This wasn’t the last of the several news and post office boxes to be trashed. Several moments ahead, a Georgia Straight box came down at the corner of Pender and Hamilton Streets.

This wasn’t the traditional placard-carrying protest that many are familiar with. It wasn’t a peaceful and pretty event.

As organizers have long advertised, it was one where a diversity of tactics  were to  be employed.  

“This is what democracy looks like!” protesters shouted as a hint of marijuana smoke wafted into the morning air.

A van bearing the sign of a government ambulance supervisor rode ahead of the march until it reached the corner of Hastings Street.

A brief moment of tension ensued as the crowd surged near the front of the Vancouver Police Department station. Would they spray  anything at  the cop shop? Nothing like that happened and after a few seconds they retreated toward Hastings Street.

Moving westward along Hastings Street and occupying all lanes, the demonstrators unfurled a huge black banner with deep red letters proclaiming the participation of the  Anti-Poverty Committee, a group that is known for unconventional ways of political expression.

As they made it past Carrall Street, about three bike-riding cops quickly surrounded an unoccupied police patrol car parked on the northern side of Hastings, fearing perhaps it would be targeted.

The protesters turned left on Cambie Street, and a couple grabbed two grey garbage boxes and spilled their contents onto the pavement.

The crowd turned right on Pender Street and more news boxes came down. They manoeuvred left on Richards Street, putting them just two blocks off West Georgia Street.

By 9:50 a.m., they were on West Georgia Street, and immediately one could sense that things are about to go up several notches in intensity. Police had their hands full redirecting traffic, and cars bearing the marks of Olympic organizer Vanoc were told to quickly get out of the scene.

The Bay store, with all of its Olympic paraphernalia, was hit. Windows were either spray-painted or smashed.

There was the constant sound of metal grating against cement, as news boxes were dragged onto the pavement.

At 10:05 a.m., as the demonstrators approached Burrard Street, the first antiriot police were seen. Before reaching Thurlow Street, squads of antiriot police began boxing in the marchers.

Here the first scuffle occurred as a couple of youthful demonstrators attempted to stop the antiriot police from shadowing the march. A man was pinned to a wall, and a police officer said: “You’re disturbing the entire city.”

It was clear at this time, around 10:10 a.m., that the police would make their move. Crowds following the marchers were told the stay back, but such orders weren’t followed.

At the wide intersection of West Georgia and Cardero Streets, just before Denman Street, a wall of police and cop cars came. The “2010 Heart Attack” wasn’t going to move any further.

By this time, the ranks of the demonstrators had thinned to about 200 or 300. They looked like they were outnumbered by the antiriot police.

Arrests quickly followed. A woman dressed entirely in black was grabbed and quickly surrounded by a squad of bicycle-riding police, who dragged her to a patrol wagon. Legal observers followed on the sidewalk, asking her for her name. She responded with a name that sounded something like “Dana Reily”.

Another man was held by both arms by two cops, and wasalso thrown into the wagon. A legal observer told the Straight at the scene that there may have been four or five people nabbed by police. But even arrests didn’t break the demonstrators' defiance. They kept banging the inside walls of the wagon until the vehicle took off.

At 10:35 a.m., the corner of West Georgia and Cardero Streets were occupied by rows of police officers. The streets belonged no more to the young men and women of 2010 Heart Attack.

Comments (125) Add New Comment
Mark Stevens
This is what democracy DOESN'T look like. This is what fascist brown shirts look like. These losers should stay home.
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Graham Williams
Can we avoid using the racially loaded term "paddy wagon" please?

Irish Canadians everywhere are fine with the use of that term, just not when it's used to house cowards that wear masks while pretending vandalism is civil disobedience. "Hooligan wagon" or "Vehicle for transporting those with nothing better to do than engage in mischief" would be more appropriate in this case.
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Dhorea
what a bunch of thugs ! I am ashamed to be an activists if this is what the NOW generation thinks is PEACEFUL PROTEST
You are all a bunch of IDIOTS YOU are worse than any government when this type of behaviour is encouraged and thought to be useful in any way.
SHAME ON YOU
and you wont show your FACE ! GUTLESS to top it off GUT-LESS
do you HEAR ME ??????
Hiding like a Terrorist makes you ONE ~ take off your masked & act like HUMAN BEINGS not TERRORISTS! what is the matter with you? do you really think this will help at all? NO all you do is turn people away, the people you need to be with you
IDIOTS
GO HOME AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE DONE
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Kennedy
Jerks like this ruin it for people with valid arguments to be aired with non-violent civil disobedience.
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Guardian article (printed)
No matter the situation, there’s always someone intent on spoiling other people’s fun. Such is the case with Vancouver’s Olympic Games, where a cadre of loudmouth, red-in-the-face activists and hyperbolic critics have unleashed opinion pieces that blame the Games for the closure of local schools and stoke fears of an impending police state. What nonsense. While playing host to the Olympics may have its shortcomings, the massive, Games-led public investment in Vancouver’s infrastructure and arts will benefit residents of this city and province long after the Olympics have closed up shop.”

— The Guardian
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Charlie Smith
Graham Williams,
Our senior editor, Martin Dunphy, did not edit this article. He often talks in the office about how the term "paddy wagon" should not be used. I have replaced the term with "patrol wagon" in response to your comment. I didn't call it the "hooligan wagon", but you're free to offer that point of view. And we'll run comments by those who disagree with you.
Charlie Smith
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Barb R
Morons.
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Kw
please do not allow these freaks and balaclaved children to be spokespersons for free speech and legal protest in B.C. They stand for nothing of substance but an avenue to bring out their own aggression and show their sense of entitlement.
These are nothing but spoilt, children and if they don't look out it won't be the police they should be afraid of but the population of British Columbia.
If they are looking for a war they may just find one ....... just in an most unexpected spot.
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Rating: +10
Enough!
This radical bulls**t has to stop! You are not helping any cause and you are hurting a lot more! You masked cowards are barely worth the air you breath!
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Black Block go home
As someone who protested at Saturday's anti-Olympics rally, these clowns doing the work of police agent provocateurs don't represent me.
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dumbledore
What a bunch of creeps. Do they realize how many tax dollars they wasted today?
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Rating: +8
Lisa Henderson
Actually, fascism would be the police violently cracking down on any anti-Olympic talk or action for the past 6 or so years. Open your eyes, that's why they've spent more than $1 billion dollars on security alone, because the protests are for legitimate reasons. Sweeping the DTES of its homeless to make way for the games? That's a riot that I want to join.
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Graham Williams
Cheers Charlie. It was meant mostly in jest, but as an Irish Canadian I appreciate you making the change.
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Rating: +2
Does it matter?
Where is David Eby and Pivot? Where are the "Legal Observers"? What about my rights to not be intimidated, to be able to walk down this public street wearing what-ever clothes I decide to wear without being harrassed by these protesters? What about the rights of property owners not to have their property destroyed by vandals? I would like to hear his comments on this wrong behaviour. But of course it is easier to only defend the rights of those you choose to. And to stay silent when you are wrong. Cowards. Why don't you put on a mask like the other criminals running around that you "defend". I have rights too.

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Rating: +1
Eric Vancouverite
The right to speak freely is not the right to be heard.

Formulate a cogent argument, present it in a compelling way that the majority decide accords with their beliefs, and win: Democracy.

I suspect most of the public is not compelled by today's actions, but what do I know...

(a DTE-born-and-bred guy that really thinks Vancouver is headed towards serious conflict...)
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GC
The Georgia Straight comment boards have been invaded by paid people who are certainly not readers of the newspaper, how sad.

Part of VANOC million dollar promotion propaganda action.
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Nadina Barrie
It's a shame that both sides of the fight seem to harbour so much anger--clearly displayed in the words and actions of many.
Pretty shocking for Vancouver, considering I haven't personally heard a VIOLENT anti-2010 statement--simply that folks don't agree with HOW this whole pissing contest is being run (and let's face it--we're glorifying our city to the world: It's a great big weiner-measuring affair). However, I have heard pro-2010 folks express angry and/or violent sentiments regarding those who oppose the Olympics. Everyone's a little guilty--of feeling powerless and expressing that ineffectively. These are not easy times. The Games will always pose a challenge to the host.
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Eric Vancouverite
@Lisa: Have you lived in the DTES? Are you sure you know their plight? How many of the local residents have you spoken to recently?

Olympics aside...

It would have been much cheaper to just plow through the protesters than to train and employ all these yellow jacketed piggies. It would have been much cheaper to stop subsidizing post-secondary seats filled with weak people being taught by washouts that can barely finish their own PhD. We'd then have funds left to help the poor.

This is where our money is being wasted. Go flip some burgers, translate for tourists, and bus a table... this is all Vancouver people have proven to be (that and hole-drilling speculators, gamblers, pornographers, web2.0-SEO-make-money-quick-wannabies, etc). Quit trying to act smart. There's probably a reason why the world thinks we're retarded... Yes, nice mountains, big trees, nice ocean... Stupid locals that make crap wages washing bedsheets at hotels (although hookers make more I suppose). Trust me, this is what this city is good for... lashing out and wishing we were better is just a waste of energy and time. Becoming better is an internal journey, one of strong will and determination. Not a quick scream for others to change.

Everywhere I've travelled to lecture, people comment on how beautiful Vancouver is... nobody comments on how influential, capable, or intelligent the people are. I wonder why...

Regarding fascism: We voted for the current government, who's laws the police are trying (with abuses, yes... but don't start on the two-wrongs fallacy again) to uphold. I do not recall a black-hooded-chicken$hit as an option on past ballots. Reveal your face, explain your platform in dumb enough words that maybe I might understand, and hey... win a democratic platform. Otherwise your free speech is likely to merely generate low-level heat.
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guardian response
In the past six months provincial funding to the arts has been drastically cut, with plans to reduce a number of corner stone arts organizations down to 2% of their 2008 funding.
At the same time billions of dollars are being spent to throw a nationalist sports party that serves elite athletes and affluent sports enthusiasts.
There will be an Olympic legacy in British Columbia - the arts community that has given Vancouver a large part of it's global identity will have either gone underground or returned to Europe. Leaving Vancouver with bleached one dimensional arts organizations whose sole function is to entertain tourists.
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Rating: -1
Other side of life
Well I wouldn't follow their example, personally, but I imagine they would claim that direct action is the only kind authority really fears. Peaceful protest is easily ignored. Physical disruption of the spectacle, less so.
In any case most disruption of regular life in Vancouver has come from the organizers, not protesters
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Rating: -4

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