Serious police iron was out in the streets of Vancouver today (February 13), the second day of the 2010 Olympics.
At least two of what looked like M4 carbines--the newer version of the iconic Vietnam-era American assault rifle, the M-16– were in the hands of officers of the Vancouver Police Department.
These weapons are standard issue for U.S. forces in modern wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan
One carbine even had what appeared to be a laser guide, which would make the light, easy-to-handle, and accurate fully automatic weapon dead-on on target.
It wasn’t known whether or not the rifles carried rubber or plastic bullets instead of live rounds.
In poorer nations dependent on U.S. military gear, these guns are adoringly referred to as “baby Armalites”. These babies can fire at least 700 full-metal jacket rounds a minute.
The weapons came out as police started to shadow and later confront several demonstrators who messed up the downtown streets of the Olympic city in a free-for-all event dubbed 2010 Heart Attack.
At one point during the rowdy protest, the demonstrators grabbed a long ladder, the closest they got to having their own weaponry.
One police officer wore a vest studded with several rounds of shotgun shells. He cradled a short barrelled shotgun–no shoulder stock– with a hand grip for easier pump loading.
Every officer had standard automatic pistols.
Also in public display were tear-gas guns as police donned body pads and helmets with visors. There were, of course, the old-fashioned antiriot batons.
“From where are you gentlemen?” a towering officer who appeared to be the leader of a police squad asked the Straight team on West Georgia Street.
He had a pleasant-sounding voice as the demonstrators crossed the intersection of Thurlow Street.
When told that that the crew was from the Straight, the officer said the team could take all the pictures it wanted of police and their gear.
Asked what he thought of the scene unfolding before his eyes, the officer responded: “It’s a great sporting event.” He may have been referring to the Olympics.
Pressed further, the officer added something like: “Everybody has the right to protest. That’s why we’re here in Canada.”
There wasn’t any chance to ask why assault rifles were out on this cold morning.