Hundreds of protesters demand Dick Cheney's arrest during Vancouver appearance
Long-time media commentator Charles Boylan speculated around 300 protesters were at the Vancouver Club on Monday night (September 26) "at its peak" as locals voiced their opposition to the downtown presence of Dick Cheney.
The former U.S. vice-president, whom one local lawyer has labelled a "mass murderer", was scheduled to speak at the Vancouver Club on West Hastings Street at a $500-a-head dinner to promote his memoirs. Dozens of police sealed off the two entrances to the club, while others used force to push back protesters as delegates struggled to get inside and catch Cheney's speech.
But outside everybody was united in their disgust that Cheney, whom they called a war criminal, was not arrested by Vancouver police. Gail Davidson, founder of Lawyers Against the War, was present and continued to insist Cheney should be arrested and tried for war crimes and torture.
"I like the fact that so many people from different walks of life have taken time out of their work and their personal lives to come and voice their opposition to the [Canadian federal] government refusing to enforce the law," Davidson told the Straight.
Davidson said she also has no problem that protesters linked arms and made a determined effort (ultimately unsuccessful) to keep out those wanting to catch a glimpse of Cheney.
"I feel just fine about it," Davidson said. "I think that if you wanted to come to the Vancouver Club tonight, when you were a member, and you knew that Mr. Cheney—an unindicted war criminal and a person who's admitted on many occasions to using even the most horrific kinds of torture like simulated drowning—then I'm afraid that, if you get to the Vancouver Club and you can't get in, then it should come as no surprise."
Derrick O'Keefe says Dick Cheney should go to prison.
One local resident and Vancouver Club member waiting outside admitted he was going for dinner with his wife, but was not going in to see Cheney. His view was different from that of Davidson, as he witnessed firsthand attempts to physically bar delegates, many subject to verbal abuse and even some physical contact as they made their way through the crowds.
"To be fair I totally agree that what he has done is wrong, but you know, at the end of the day, don't harass innocent members of the general public," Richard Cottell said. "If you want to have a peaceful protest, that's fine, but they're intimidating people, which is not fair. At the end of the day, everybody's got a right, they can speak, and say whatever they like, but at the end of the day, they shouldn't harass people."
Protesters included former COPE councillor Anne Roberts, long-time Green Party activist Doug Gook, Eric Doherty of organization Stop the Pave, long-time anti-war activist Derrick O'Keefe, and others.
After two hours, the crowd thinned out noticeably.
Vancouver police ignore calls to arrest Dick Cheney.
Police shove protesters blocking the entrance.