Estimates range from 1,500 to 4,000 protesters at Vancouver's Olympic demonstration

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      Estimating crowds during demonstrations such as the February 12 anti-Olympic rally is often an iffy proposition.

      Veteran community activist Sid Tan placed the number of protesters on the north lawn of the Vancouver Art Gallery at around 4,000.

      A member of the Chinese Canadian media placed the crowd at 3,000.

      Olympic critic Chris Shaw’s ballpark figure is at least 2,000. He’s happy with the number, describing it as “awesome”.

      The Vancouver Police Department’s estimate of the protesters who left the Vancouver Art Gallery for the march to B.C. Place is 1,500.

      The Straight asked a Vancouver police officer for an estimate as the demonstrators had just started the march from the art gallery and were approaching the intersection of West Georgia and Granville Streets. The answer: “Over a hundred”.

      Labour organizer Rob Hellenius believes that protesters have accomplished one significant objective.

      Chatting with the Straight in the midst of the standoff between demonstrators and police at the junction of Beatty and Robson streets at one side of B.C. Place, the member organizer of the Public Service Alliance of Canada said that they have shamed Canada before the world.

      “The range of issues that are represented is just huge,” Hellenius said, referring to the multitude of concerns brought forward by the protesters.

      “It really shames the government of Canada that we have these many issues that we can bring to bear in a protest like this,” Hellenius said as placards declared opposition to issues ranging from the B.C. government’s highway-widening Gateway project to unresolved land claims by First Nations.

      “It shows that the Canadian people are starting to wake up,” he said.

      Comments

      12 Comments

      Mark Stevens

      Feb 13, 2010 at 1:21am

      Funny, watching NBC and what international media I can see on the internets, I see no mention of the protesters. Maybe they don't have the impact they think.

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      Analyst

      Feb 13, 2010 at 3:56am

      It's excellent The Straight is raising this issue. CTV buried the story 20 minutes into the 11 o'clock news and then stated that only "hundreds" were present. Across the board U.S. media have inserted the police numbers into their stories without attributing the claim to law enforcement PR. See, for example:

      Associated Press:
      http://wintergames.ap.org/story.aspx?st=id&id=3cdcda83b13349f5bc80d7817d...

      L.A. Times:
      http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-olympics-protest13-2010feb13,0,35758...
      http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-olympics-protest13-2010feb13,0,35758...

      U.S.A. Today:
      http://www.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/vancouver/2010-02-12-olympic-dem...

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      Significant Impact

      Feb 13, 2010 at 6:01am

      Anyone who watches coverage of the last day of the torch run can see the impact.

      The rally was blocked in the DTES, Gretzky (unfortunately) was embarrassed by the chanting when it left the stadium and even more so when the motorcade had to honk those nasty horns.

      It had its impact, and will be measured once the Olympics are over.

      I'm glad to see that the word got out, a little saddened that Gretzky was embarrassed though.

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      eddy

      Feb 13, 2010 at 7:39am

      I have posted her before on the olympics. My biggest complaint is the handling of information, we still do not know the cost, and some of the way the organizers , in particular the provincial government promoted the games, and some of the restrictions imposed by the structure affect all of us. I do not believe we will get the long term benefits Gordo and company are suggesting, but the games will happen, and I hope succussfully. So what if anything have all my comments and those of others done in the real world. Nothing, as could be expected, just a chance to rant and rave. I hope that when these games are done, those that are using the games as an excuse to get there 15 seconds or so of ????fame???? will quit whining, and do some real work, offer some real suggestions, and contribute to the solutions. To those that have real problems, and have actually worked hard in the past,(actually got your hands dirty working to solutions and helping to achieve them , perhaps not fast enough) and will no doubt continue to work to that goal once the media has left, note I am not addressing my comments to you. Your work,commitment, and efforts should be recognized, thanked and appreciated.

      To the rest of you, I hope you are all Canadian citizens, and registered voters, because shorty will get a chance to protest with a signature on a petition, and in a few years you get a chance to mark a x on a ballet, but given the voter turn outs it seems that most of you do not even vote, you just whine.

      "Shamed Canada:" Get a grip, All these protests show is that this is truly a tolerant society, perhaps one that can be an example to the rest of the world , of our willingness to accept all views and actually let all sides be seen, and that includes our dirty laundry. There are many countries in the word,in a far worse state, where you would be afraid to
      express your views, and if you did you would not last long.

      "Shamed Canada" ?? what you claim is our shame, is really our greatest strength, and truly an example to the world

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      masked cowards

      Feb 13, 2010 at 8:30am

      See that guy in the middle of the picture with the mask on? He is the reason why the protests have lost support. He's not here to join the protest causes. He's here to cause trouble (i.e. throw vinegar is officers eyes) and not get caught. The message is lost because of these idiots! Don't stand for that nonsense or we are no better...

      I applaud the police for taking the higher ground!

      http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Anti+Olympic+protest+mostly+peaceful+de...

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      Jessica

      Feb 13, 2010 at 9:13am

      There was definitely NOT 4,000 people there...maybe a 500-800 actual protesters... and 1,000 spectators. I was way more interested in the pro olympic protest. They're message was simple and focused..."they say protest, we say party"!!

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      Bryce Pugh

      Feb 13, 2010 at 9:53am

      I get the feeling the protesters are inflating their numbers fairly significantly. Was downtown all night, and there weren't really that many.

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      Sheelagh

      Feb 13, 2010 at 11:28am

      If you want respect, give respect. Today's little episode by some of smashing windows and throwing things will get you spanked and sent to bed without supper.

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      Strategis

      Feb 13, 2010 at 4:00pm

      Agreed, Eddy, Canadians should be proud of our constitution, Bill of Rights, and Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantee the rights of all Canadians to freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, and freedom of lawful assembly. This is what democracy looks like, even though a bit untidy at times, but without street protests of this kind, our society would be much poorer.
      The political activists, researchers and writers, lecturers, journalists, non profit organisations and progressive think tanks are the canaries in the mine. They usually serve as the conscience of our society - waking up the rest of the populace to the issues that need to be addressed and corrected.
      When a person develops a social conscience, then they usually start joining non profit groups and going to lectures, films, forums, and rallies like this one to discover what the bland, sanitized corporate controlled propaganda that spews from the tv, radio and newspapers and is preached from the academic pulpits is deliberately witholding, denying or distorting.
      Regarding voting as a means of participating meaningfully in democracy, I have to disagree, Eddy. At this point, with the state of our media, election finance laws, and electoral system, there is generally no value in voting, unless you are a subscriber to the corporate manufactured mindset, because there is no vote that can make a difference or represent your informed viewpoint. Thus boycotting this meaningless and empty charade of democracy called a federal election is the most sensible and politically eloquent statement. Unfortunately it is usually misinterpreted by the media and misinformed as mere apathy, when in fact it is usually enlightened disinterest in an empty ritual designed to do nothing more than provide a veneer of legitimacy to a false democracy. To vote is to legitimize a fake democratic electoral process. It is an act of mindless compliance with the silly dogma that the mere act of voting ensures democracy.
      No - a free and vital press and a fair electoral finance and voting system ensure democracy - nothing less. And, of course, the real protection of all civil and political rights, so that it is relatively safe to speak one's mind and advocate for change.
      So instead of merely voting, politically engaged citizens need to contribute to and support independent media and media reform initiatives, and join political parties in large numbers, start new parties, donate time and money to political candidates and parties, contribute your ideas, and run as candidates in the various elections. Only this way will politics become truly democratised.

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      Duane

      Feb 14, 2010 at 1:55pm

      July 2009 news report: "Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit won't rule out agents provocateurs" - "The RCMP-led security force for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games won't rule out the use of agents provocateurs to incite protesters to commit illegal acts." (ref. http://www.straight.com/article-241166/isu-wont-rule-out-agents-provocat...)

      Aug./07 news report: "Police accused of using provocateurs at summit" - "Late Tuesday, photographs taken by another protester surfaced, showing the trio [violent protesters] lying prone on the ground. The photos show the soles of their boots adorned by yellow triangles. A police officer kneeling beside the men has an identical yellow triangle on the sole of his boot.

      Kevin Skerrett, a protester with the group Nowar-Paix, said the photos and video together present powerful evidence that the men were actually undercover police officers.

      "I think the circumstantial evidence is very powerful," he said.

      The three do not appear to have been arrested or charged with any offence." (ref. http://www.thestar.com/News/article/248608)

      The 6-plus-billion-dollar 2010 No-Snow Winter 'Surveillance' Games have exposed to the world the extent to which elitist political and corporate interests (with the Olympic athletic industry in trail) are willing to go in order to profit at the ENORMOUS expense of the masses. VANOC's $1.76B budget + the $900M security budget (how did those protesters in BLACK manage to sneek their destructive equipment past security?!) would have paid for the seismic upgrading of 2/3 of the 311 BC schools that have been identified as very likely to collapse in a moderate earthquake. When the "Big One" hits the Lower Mainland, which could happen any day now, according to seismologists, will any of the trapped young people and school staff, or distraught parents looking at the crushed bodies of their children be thinking about how great the 2010 Winter Olympics were? Nope.

      In this post-9/11 world, if you want to manufacture consent - in support of ever-costlier Olympics, in this case - the quickest way to do so is to use fear. Had the 'goons' (how did they get their BLACK BALACLAVAS past security check points?!) not appeared and carried out their vandalism, would the need for even MORE security at the $31B London 2012 Olympics be an issue, like it surely will be now? Nope.

      And who ends up footing the ENORMOUS bill for these short-lived sports events while health services are cut, city infrastructure is allowed to deteriorate, teachers and government workers are laid off, etc. all because the host municipality is saddled for several years and often decades with a COLOSSAL Olympic debt? All the residents who needed the government services, healthcare resources, etc. in the first place. So they get screwed - twice!

      And the Olympic Industry moves on to its next victim.

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