Olympic critic says she was denied entry to U.S., harassed at border

Anti-war activist and Olympic critic Marla Renn says she was given a hard time by both U.S. and Canadian border guards yesterday (December 10).

Renn was searched and questioned by American officials, and later denied entry. At the Canadian side, she was also searched and interrogated.

Here’s an excerpt from the press release she sent out yesterday:

Marla Renn, a member of the Olympic Resistance Network (ORN), was travelling to Portland, Oregon to speak on the negative impacts of the 2010 Games. Renn was scheduled to speak at educational events at Mt. Hood Community College, Reed College, Portland State University, and the Red and Black Cafe. She was held for over six hours as both Canadian and US border guards interrogated her about the subject of her speech, her contacts in Portland, and her political activities. She was previously denied entry for a Seattle speaking event on the grounds that ten anti-Olympic shirts were unauthorised commercial merchandise, but the shirts were found after she had already been questioned on political issues. Likewise, the excuse for rejecting her this time (lack of employment since her graduation in August) was brought up after her planned speech and political activities were addressed by border guards.

Renn was targeted for immediate questioning at the US border. She was photographed and fingerprinted, her property was searched, her cell phone was taken and accessed, and her documents (even the book she was reading) photocopied. She was warned that any attempt to enter the US within the next six months may result in two years imprisonment. At the Canadian side of the border, she was again searched and questioned extensively on the Portland events, her speech, and attempts to build anti-Olympic support in the USA. “Continued harassment of peaceful organisers and speakers by the police and border guards show that their real objective is to silence dissent and not to protect the public,” says Renn.

The release notes that journalist Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! was recently detained and questioned at the Canada-U.S. border.

It also states:

Across Canada, political organisers have been subject to harassment, surveillance and questioning about anti-Olympic activism. People’s housing, academic work and employment have been jeopardized by police visits. Even family members, friends, neighbours and co-workers (people not involved in political activity) have been contacted by police. The targets of these investigations are community members involved in open public organising, with publicly accessible groups, meetings, events, and websites. Combined with the efforts of the City of Vancouver and Olympic officials to deny free expression by restricting political displays in public space, the intent is clearly to silence public criticism and traditional protest methods, such as political signs, speaking events, marches, and rallies.