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Police say protest violence the result of a small group of “criminal inflitrators”

February 13th, 2010 · 49 Comments

This news release just out from the VPD

Vancouver – As Vancouver Police faced protestors once again today they encountered a criminal element within the legitimate protestors.
 
The criminal element apparently willing to wield anything that might cause damage or injury marched among about 200 legitimate protestors this morning beginning at 8:30 a.m. They walked down Georgia Street breaking windows, turning over news boxes and clashing with police.
 
This group contained more than 100 masked people many of whom kicked and damage numerous parked cars. They used spray paint on cars and transit buses and tore down signs.
 
They also clashed with members of the public and pedestrians who didn’t support them. At one point they used a ladder as a moving barricade.
 
The demonstration involving a number of anarchists some of whom dress all in black and employ a tactic called Black Bloc. This included a loosely organized group of thugs from central Canada known to attach themselves to any cause, travel to any event that attracts media coverage and promote anarchy wherever they go.
 
Because the criminal element hid within the ranks of the legitimate protestors it posed challenges to police who had to identify who among the crowd were responsible for the property damage and violence.
 
Vancouver Police respect the rights of those who wish to express their criticism but that does not give them right to commit crimes and jeopardize the public’s safety.
 
As this group began to escalate their violence and vandalism Vancouver Police increased their presence along Georgia Street to preserve public safety. Members of the Integrated Security Unit also joined the effort to restore the peace. Members of the VPD Crowd Control Unit also participated.
 
Once the violence began, specifically as some in the group smashed windows at the Bay department store, the bulk of the crowd drifted away distancing themselves from the criminal element.
 
Part of the group’s confrontational strategy is to provoke police. Some of the masked criminals were carrying vinegar soaked rags and goggles fully anticipating that they could provoke police into using tear gas. To further bait police they spat on officers, kicked at them and taunted them.
 
The Vancouver Police Department has always employed a strategy of cooperation and non-confrontation with protests groups in the hope of facilitating peaceful and safe events. On average the VPD safely facilitates about 175 protests in the city every year.
 
Police are aware that they must always balance the rights of free speech and protest with the rights of the public to safely and freely enjoy the city.
 
By noon, police had been able to disperse the vandals into smaller pockets and greatly reduce the threat to the public safety.
 
Seven suspects were arrested and charges of mischief are pending. A bag with a hammer was recovered. One suspect had a bicycle chain wrapped around his fist when he was arrested.

Categories: Uncategorized

  • Having grown up in the 60s, I’ve participated in many actions and marches – in protest of nuclear testing and weapons, for peace, the environment, for democracy and for gay rights among other causes.

    But not once have I ever worn a mask or tried to hide my face. To the contrary, I marched with pride and publicly identified myself with those causes regardless of whether they were popular at the time or not.

    Yesterday, I watched the demonstrators that had tried ineffectively to prevent the torch relay rally at the intersection of 1st and Commercial.

    Young people wearing black masks, waving black flags and chanting “F**K Canada!” and throwing Canadian flags onto the ground and stomping on them. They were more reminiscent of the blackshirts we saw arise in Germany back in the 30s than any peace march or demonstration I’ve ever participated in. A mob looking for something to smash it seemed to me.

    Prior to that moment, I had been telling people how much I loved protest and felt it was very important to allow people to blow off steam.

    But what I witnessed in that short rally disturbed me greatly – those fascistic black flags and masked faces, the nascent violence they seemed to keen for. It was palpable.

    This was the same group that terrorized a group of mothers and their children at the Chinese Cultural Centre on Thursday, imprisoning them in that building and screaming at them for an hour. What did those little children do to deserve that assault, disturbingly reminiscent of mob violence earlier in the city’s history? Their actions were so incredibly insensitive to the racial history of this city it was shameful.

    And this morning they confirmed my worst suspicions, proving the nature of their allegiance, which is to violence for its own sake, and to a kind of fascistic outlook that refuses to acknowledge the validity of the viewpoint of anyone that disagrees.

    By their actions they have lost any sympathy that might have remained for those voicing legitimate criticism, and they have invalidated an entire movement that might have helped move the city towards more positive social change.

    There is nothing left to discuss with anyone that would stomp atavistically on the Canadian flag or hurl epithets at the country I love, one of the very few in the entire world so free that two gay men can marry, as Tom and I have done here. At a time, I might add, when to be gay can still be a sentence of death in many other nations.

    They have willfully identified themselves through their own actions with blackshirts, with violence, with masked mobs, and with those attacking our nation. They should be ashamed.

  • Julia

    I could not agree more. As far as I am concerned, they have now seriously crossed the line and I have no interest in hearing anything they have to say on any subject.

  • Some pretty good pictures of the whole thing at: http://www.shotinvancouver.com/vancouver/olympics/vancouver-olympics-protests-turn-violent-and-destructive-multiple-arrests-made/

    Based on those pics, it looks to me like there were around 60 people in black. There seem to be some claims that they were outsiders but they are carrying an APC banner at the start, and they appear to be taking the lead rather than mingling with other more innocent protesters.

  • Annette F

    In 1999 I was volunteering with an international NGO that attended the WTO summit in Seattle. We had brought lawyers and physicians from Europe to speak about a new campaign to ensure access to medications for the poorest people in the world, who regularly die of very treatable diseases.
    The infamous “Battle in Seattle” that developed served to greatly limit attendance at our press conference. Those reports that did brave the streets to come and hear our speakers were held captive with the rest of us in the hotel as we waited for the tear gas to clear and the streets to be safe again.
    Needless to say these “protesters” greatly hampered our ability to advocate for life-saving treatment for some of the neediest people in the world.
    I have no use for this kind of violence and destruction. It serves no purpose but to provide a brief thrill for those who commit it. Calling it “protest” cheapens the word and does nothing to promote the cause of those who may have legitimate issues to promote.

  • landlord

    175 protests/yr? They really don’t have anything better to do with their time. This isn’t exercising rights or standing up for principles or beliefs, it’s criminal mischief. Any sign of Chris Shaw or Wendy Petersen condemning mob violence?

  • david hadaway

    Let’s keep a sense of proportion. This gang of self deluding masked marauders are just a dressed down version of Granville Street’s Saturday night drunken revellers, and about as socially significant. Please don’t tarnish serious people and serious issues by association.

  • blg

    here’s an idea – send all the odious corporate creeps on Global/BCTV news to a desert island along with these so-called protestors, they deserve each other. And let the rest of us get on with things.

  • Stephanie

    I was present for the entire action on Commercial Drive. I’m not sure where Mr. Bickerton was, judging from his account.

    A few corrections: we were entirely successful in diverting the torch off its route. Black flags are an international anarchist symbol, not a fascist one. There was a black bloc at the rally, but there were also environmentalists, union activists, peace-and-justice folks, parents with kids in strollers, and a community band that played in costume.

    I didn’t see anyone stomp on a flag at First Ave. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen – it may well have. But claiming that this was some eerie portent of violence is pearl-clutching of the worst sort. There was no violence. It was probably the most fun, exhilarating, joyous street action I’ve ever been engaged in.

    The only time things felt tense was down at Venables and Commercial when we took the intersection and the police started to move in. But then, with perfect timing, the band came playing and dancing down the street to the demo, diffusing the tension.

    As for today…it is true that some people broke windows and turned over newspaper boxes today. I have also heard credible reports that the police used provocateurs today (you will recall that they refused to rule out doing this when questioned prior to the Games). I’d suggest taking everything – especially police press releases – with several grains of salt.

    Please note that I did not attend today’s action and I don’t support it.

  • Peter Kropotkin

    The police may have infiltrated (or are disguising themselves as) the Black Bloc — no matter. The true anarchists are everywhere, even within the VPD itself. I personally elbowed the hyphen out of phrase “vinegar-soaked rags,” allowing that bit of lawlessness to go out with their public statement. 😉

    A true anarchist seeks not to tear down governments; a true anarchist works towards a society where government is irrelevant. And that is the most terrifying concept you’ll read today.

  • Sickening

    These violet protests are sickening and disheartening. We have been watching the newscasts with our teenage children and they are in absolute disbelief and heartbroken. They were and still are thrilled that the Games are here and want to be part of all the fun and action. While we believe people should have the right to protest, such violence is completely unacceptable and I hope that the law will deal with this to the full extent possible.

    I was quite hesitant when I heard the security bill and the # of security flying in from across the country but now I see why they had to spend the money and glad to know that we’re protected…the athletes, citizens AND the tourists….

  • Lewis N. Villegas

    I hope the VPD is looking at this with an open mind, and mingling some of their own inside the protester’s ranks.

    Peaceful street protest can be a beautiful thing, and rather than taking sides, we should all be on the lookout for trouble makers, and folks that just get into trouble.

  • gmgw

    Sickening:
    Re your comments enthusing about the massive amount spent on security for the “Games” (I swore I wasn’t going to use that word… oh well): The VPD did and does not require a temporary boost in their budget in the neighbourhood of a billion dollars in order to effectively deal with the likes of the morons who ran amok downtown today. That expenditure– whose amount, by the way, I think is utterly obscene– was, for better or worse, deemed necessary to prevent potential attacks by international organizations of far greater import and capability than these black-clad pissants. Please try and readjust the scope of your vision, and to understand that in today’s world, no one is completely “protected” any longer.

    Having said that, the imposition of a billion-dollar, massive security infrastructure in response to a two-week event is nothing to celebrate. Rather, it’s cause for mourning.

    Try and explain this to your teenagers. They sound like they’re living a very sheltered existence, compared to most of their more worldly peers.
    gmgw

  • Glissando Remmy

    “United States is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” Martin Luther King, April 4th, 1967 in his Beyond Vietnam speech
    Vietnam War was very, very wrong. Now we know. One year later MLK was assassinated.

    I’ve started with this quote simply because to this day, nothing has changed. Nothing. And if this insight doesn’t make you think, than it’s a sad world we are living in.

    It’s so much violence in the world that it hurts only thinking about it. But somehow the strong ones, the rich ones and the ones that in general are the ones inflicting the most damage are always the ones legitimizing their actions. (ex: that’s why it’s ok to spend 6 billion dollars on a three weeks party but it’s not ok to demonstrate against it)

    We have to remember how deeply immersed in and influenced by violence we all are. Think present Afghanistan, Iraq, god knows how many other Wars are carried over by others in the world, with the full support from us, without us even knowing it. Look on TV, listen to the Radio, read the papers: shootings, arson, sexual assaults, prostitution, drugs, wars, these are only the local news!

    So, these hooded kids in Vancouver are defying the Olympic Games and are behaving violently, allegedly, but not all of them, for sure. Ok, fine. Have any of you wondered when did these people have their last meal, what was comprised of and where did they sleep last night? Just asking, because that’s a very important and I think a very legit question. The answer to those three questions you may find at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid, and they represent the most needed physiological needs: food, water, shelter.

    For all the people critically commenting on this blog, who probably like me, are crowding at the top or are comfortably on their way up there, I have this to say to them, grow a brain. Don’t let your petty side of your brain (the one that’s been already brainwashed by the Olympic propaganda) take over.

    The people you see on TV reacting violently, maybe, if they were properly fed, slept in a warm and cosy home like yours, surrounded by family, have enough money to buy these brand names jackets and scarves and mittens and be able to afford a ticket or two at some events, maybe they would not be there, or, if they were they would be of a Non Violent kind.

    They could instead be watching “YOU” on the TV, with their teenage kids alongside them and be totally disgusted by what they’ve just witnessed. “Those filthy bastards!” they would say. Oh, wait, that would be you, saying that just now. Nonviolence is the weapon of the strong. It takes a lot of practice, deep understanding, commitment, courage, strategy, and planning. It’s difficult for a balanced individual to achieve that when faced with the blunt truth, think of what it takes for someone less strong or struggling or simply not there.

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • gmgw

    Since there’s been much discussion herein of how others are seeing us at this purportedly historic juncture, here’s something of interest from http://www.counterpunch.com, still the feistiest online leftie news digest out there. (This somewhat optimistic piece was posted Feb. 10, prior to Saturday’s mayhem):

    http://www.counterpunch.com/boykoff02102010.html

  • IanS

    gmgw, one doesn’t have to be a sheltered teenager to find the picture of those thugs smashing windows in Vancouver sickening and disheartening. I imagine most people watching those images would feel the same way.

    As David Hadaway points out, they’re no different than the jerks who get drunk and break things partying on Granville Street Saturday night. However, they’ve carried out their vandalism in a context which diverts attention away from not only the games themselves, but from legitimate protest. Now, when people think of the protests at the 2010 Olympics, the image which comes to mind will be a group of masked thugs smashing things indiscriminately in downtown Vancouver. That’s not an image anyone – pro or anti Olympic, or, like most of us, somewhere in between – should be happy with.

  • JP Ratelle

    You know I’m quite sick and tired of hearing those “peaceful protestors”, always claim that “it was 10-20 people who were the radicals”, and that “they take away from the message WE were trying to convey”.

    That is the biggest bullshit anyone can spew from their mouth.

    If the rest of those people involved in the “peaceful protest” don’t like when these hooded and balaclava wearing vandals show up, they could simply cancel their march and reschedule it for another time.

    If they show up again, cancel it and reschedule it for another time.

    Eventually those assholes will get the message that they don’t belong with people who are trying to peacefuly protest.

    INSTEAD, what we get is the “peaceful” protestors, marching side by side with these petty, cowardly criminals, providing them cover to go about their business of violating everyone’s rights to a peace society.

    The bullshit needs to stop and the people who can stop this are those that organize peaceful protests.

    If you were sincere when you state violence takes away from your message, then pull your head out of your ass and take some responsibility for your own part in this crap.

    ENOUGH is ENOUGH.

    EVERYONE involved in protest marches needs to start taking ownership and responsibility of the situation THEY partake in.

    To hide behind the EXCUSE that a small minority are who cause the trouble, when you could have done something to provent that violence make ALL OF YOU just as guilty as those breaking the windows.

    It’s time to put down the bong and get a life.

  • “As David Hadaway points out, they’re no different than the jerks who get drunk and break things partying on Granville Street Saturday night.”

    Sorry, but they totally are. Lager Louts are just folks who can’t manage to use a product as directed by its manufacturer, these protestors are directing violence towards targets they take issue with. Love ’em or hate ’em, realistically, there’s an ocean of difference between someone picking a fight fuelled by bravado, booze, and testosterone on a Saturday night, and an individual publicly destroying private property as a political statement.

  • spartikus

    I have also heard credible reports that the police used provocateurs today

    Er, the Olympic Resistance Network claiming responsibility completely undermines that.

    “I don’t think buildings have feelings. They are not comprised of vital organs and tissue,” says ORN’s Gord Hill.

    I’m sure the Jewish owned businesses that had bricks thrown through their windows in 30s Germany didn’t have feelings either. Oh, but I guess that was different, in a violence for me and not for thee kind of way.

    The hint of further, more serious violence is implicit.

    Whatever one might think of the Olympics, there was a referendum and the people voted for it. That, in my mind, is the trump card…no matter how many times I wring my hand at the waste.

  • david hadaway

    @ Chris Kean

    I don’t think there is such a difference between the Black Blockers and the Lager Louts. In both examples there is intense pleasure in the unleashing of violence, in the effects it has around the perpetrator and indifference to its consequences. Unfortunately, when discipline or moral restraint break down, which did not occur yesterday, the same can happen within police ranks.

    Of those three scenarios the self styled anarchists are the least worrisome by far. I don’t mean to underestimate the dangers of political violence, direct experience of two IRA bombs makes sure of that, but this lot are few, unfocussed, chaotic in mind and deed.

    Unfortunately they have got the headlines their self obsession craves and distracted public attention from the serious issues around the games.

  • UncleSam

    Hey remmy, a lot of those protesters looked well fed to me, bunch of fat cows. If they don’t like this great country they can get the hell out!

  • I like to try and keep an open mind on things, but I cannot agree with anyone who can justify, in any way, the actions of the black masked protesters.

    I was sickened by the news of this protest, and it reinforces my disgust with Chris Shaw who announced to the public that he did not consider the smashing of windows to be civil disobedience .

  • Higgins

    Lots of sensitive stomachs in here.
    To anyone sick to their stomach from viewing the protests on TV…take a Pepto-Bismol or simply drink a can of Cola!
    Spartikus, bringing that Jewish angle in here is stupid on so many levels. You can take an Oxycontin too. The referendum was a joke and you know it. By the way, why don’t you go and watch your beer garden pals after half a dozen of pints, check out the Irish House par example, shouting and panting their chests like gorillas in the wild.
    Hu, hu, ARGHRAGRGRHGAGRGH!

  • spartikus

    @Higgins

    Zzzzzzz….

  • Stephanie

    @spartikus: It is outrageous for you to compare busting windows at the Bay to Kristallnacht. God – people accuse *activists* of rhetorical excess!

    And it’s peculiar that you say that further violence is threatened. Later in the same article you cite, Gord Hill says that the rest of the planned actions do *not* incorporate that kind of militant action. (His language, not mine – I don’t characterize property destruction as militancy.)

    Finally, that people are speaking to the media in support of the action does not mean that there were no provocateurs. Not sure why you’re drawing that conclusion. Both things usually do happen at the same time, you know.

  • spartikus

    @Stephanie

    It’s outrageous for Gord Hill and co. to claim property damage isn’t violence, as my albeit extreme example demonstrates. Don’t like it? Too bad, so sad.

    It even makes other anarchists uncomfortable.

    Later in the same article you cite, Gord Hill says that the rest of the planned actions do *not* incorporate that kind of militant action.

    According to him. Right. I’m sure it’s true.

    I’m sure too when Stephanie sees an unknown group of masked men – as the ORN activists would be not be instantly recognizable to 99% of the population – smashing windows in front of her as she walks down the street she feels completely at ease. I mean, really, where’s the implied violence in that scenario?

    Finally, that people are speaking to the media in support of the action does not mean that there were no provocateurs.

    Yes, why would I conclude there were no provocateurs when the ORN spokesman acknowledges that it was a) them and b) that was what they meant to do in a press interview and c) makes no mention of agent provocateurs?

    Not sure why you’re drawing that conclusion.

    It could be that you haven’t provided any evidence at all. I mean in the incident in Quebec there was video and photographs flying around the Net. Where’s your smoking gun? What are these “credible reports?”

  • Stephanie

    It does indeed make other anarchists uncomfortable, and I can assure you that activists will discuss this stuff — but not as a media spectable for people who can’t distinguish between overturned newspaper boxes on the streets of Vancouver and a pivotal event in the campaign to exterminate the Jews.

    And if you’re going to take Gord Hill as a source, then take him or leave him. You’re citing his statements as proof of what you want to prove, and then dismissing his other statements – from the same press conference about the same action, no less – as unreliable when he doesn’t support your position.

    Bah. Disagree as you wish, but a little intellectual honesty, please.

  • spartikus

    and I can assure you that activists will discuss this stuff — but not as a media spectable

    Alas for private navel-gazing…

    “I was really disappointed. We’ve done a lot of work around protecting free speech,” said David Eby with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

    “If the feedback I’ve been getting from activists is any indication, they’ve not only turned off the public, but a large segment of the activist community with their tactics.”

    As for Gord Hill – he has every incentive to shift the blame to the police. But he chose not to. And ye, maybe the remainder of the actions of his group will be non-violent, maybe not. Or maybe they won’t do anything at all.

    But I read many statements last week by protest spokespersons there wouldn’t be any violence on the part of protesters at all. And yet here we are. Don’t know why I’m not taking the assurance there won’t be any more seriously.

    As for intellectual honesty, please feel free to share with us these “credible reports” of agent provocateurs at your leisure.

    By the by, the Nazis were chucking bricks through windows long before Kristallnacht.

  • landlord

    Generally speaking the police don’t need to disguise themselves as “activists” and act as agents provocateurs. First, there are more than enough idiots in “the movement”; and second, it’s un-necessary. All such groups have long since been infiltrated by the police. There’s an old joke from the Communist Party in North America : Q. How can you tell who are the FBI infiltrators? A. They’re the only ones who pay their Party membership fees.

  • JCobb

    An interesting approach would be for the VPD to publish the names and addresses of those arrested, as well as the names and adresses of their parents, especially those from Shaunessy. I have to believe there are a number of what we used to call “Volvo Socialists” involved, and this would provide an interesting twist to local cocktail party conversations.

  • jimmy olson

    They can protest all they want. It’s their right. But when they resort to thuggery and vandalism get out the batons and crack skulls. asshats!

  • Stephanie

    One other comment: I have spoken to people who were at the Heart Attack demo, including people who were arrested. To their knowledge and mine, none of the people arrested were folks who actually engaged in property destruction. People who were taking pictures and video, however, were singled out for arrest.

    Make of that what you will.

  • david hadaway

    “People who were taking pictures and video, however, were singled out for arrest.’

    Well, at least they’ll have no problem proving someone else did it and no doubt you’ll be handing on the details of the real culprits..

  • I agree with Geller. Jail these bastards and make them cellmates with the Bacon Brothers. After all, we should keep the boys busy.

    What a bunch of assholes. Anyone who desecrates our flag should go to jail. Anyone who causes VIOLENT protest, should be jailed–period.

    Where was police brutality when you needed it?

    Where were your bloody Tasers boys?

  • IanS

    “Make of that what you will.”

    What I make of it is that there should be a lot more arrests made. And, hopefully, there will.

  • spartikus

    Well, at least they’ll have no problem proving someone else did it and no doubt you’ll be handing on the details of the real culprits.

    Exactly. If you can stomach your way through the CTV version of the story, they have posted about 9 minutes of raw footage. I’m sure there will be more from different sources in the days ahead. One thing I noted was the protesters had a multitude of cameras of their own. I also noted that they had opportunity to confront these alleged police provocateurs over and over again and, unlike the protesters in Quebec, strangely chose not too.

    Make of that as you will.

    As I came in to work today, there was a group from the Red Tent campaign on the Cambie Bridge. I guess they were trying to hang a banner off the bridge. Unlike seemingly the rest of the non-violent protesters, this group has one central, coherent message and are instantly recognizable. And that message (Housing is a right) has, in my opinion, resonance with the general public.

    It’s a damn shame…Saturday’s radicals really stabbed the other protesters in the back.

  • Frank Murphy

    Way too much attention paid, bloggers, to the sad anachronisms in their silly balaclavas. Don’t take the bait

  • Gassy Jack’s Ghost

    Kudos to Stephanie for throwing water on the silly knee-jerk reactions of the naive folks who were neither in attendance, nor who understand exactly what 1 billion dollars in security gets you: a short-term fascist state that needs to justify its existence.

    How better to do that than orchestrate a threat, and then create an easily recognized scapegoat that incites contempt in the general public? GMGW hits the proverbial nail too with his reworked quotation from Orwell.

    Anyone wonder why the pro-Olympic protesters who showed up with bullhorns to protest against the protesters looked suspiciously like cops? All six feet tall, cut, and with short military haircuts?

    So after a few paper boxes are overturned and some windows smashed, without a single dose of pepper spray administered, all those outraged folks who thought we were wasting 1 billion dollars on security have shut up about that and will now pay willingly? Bleat like sheep! Next time it happens, the police suddenly have carte blanche from the general public to crack skulls!? Wow.

    I guess that’s what happens when respected reporters/bloggers post police press releases but are too busy making use of their all-access party passes to do a little investigation or even provide some context. Journalism 101.

    This is what a “bought” media looks like, folks.

    So, just for the sake of argument, here’s a counterpoint from a reporter from Seattle regarding one of the horrific incidents (as posted on Harvey Oberfeld’s blog):

    “I noticed another event, the Insite protest at the Chinese Cultural Centre, where the police announced that people were trapped in the Centre and the doors were chained.

    As someone who was there reporting for a Seattle radio station I can say, the police report was false and made to produce a negative view of the protest…none of the fire exits were blocked as those doors cannot have handles on the outside, this is a National Building Code requirement. The ‘chains’ on the other door handles were so loose one could take them off by hand, but the most interesting point here is three police officers had bolt cutters in their hands for more than an hour and never once tried to use them on the chains. Why?

    Was this orchestrated by the police?

    I have photos of all of this which shows police holding bolt cutters but never used them and of the chains so loose I was able to remove one of them.

    So now I begin to wonder if the police are orchestrating these events by their inaction?

    If you or I broke a window in front of several police officers what do you think would happen to us? So why did the police look on? To allow the TV cameras to show the action in progress and to frame public opinion against even the legitimate protests?

    I am beginning to wonder about the local media’s ability to tell a story. Why hasn’t one of them taken on the police and their inaction and why hasn’t one of them questioned the facts at the Chinese Cultural Centre?”

  • spartikus

    All six feet tall, cut, and with short military haircuts?

    Plus two grannies. Diabolical.

    But sure, some or even most of the people in the pictures could be cops. Or worse, Tories.

    A simple yes or no question – is the picture at the top of this article orchestrated?

    From local photographer The Blackbird’s flickr feed:

    Local 2010 Olympics reporter Geoff Dembicki’s article for The Tyee about Saturday’s clash between anti-Olympic Games protesters and the Vancouver Police riot squad might have been a bit longer had an activist not torn pages out of his notebook before calling him a cop and then running off. In his story, Geoff also mentions that a few photographers’ cameras were whacked by protesters (mine was one of them). This, after they had chanted, “THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!” I found the logic difficult to understand, given a free press is one of modern western democracy’s foundational elements. The Tyee has consistently offered balanced reporting on the Olympics protest movement. Both Geoff and I have been published in The Tyee many times. I had a media credential around my neck for Megaphone Magazine, a biweekly news and views street paper sold by low income and homeless residents of the Downtown Eastside. Didn’t seem to matter. If they wanted to guard their privacy so much, why a march? Why not advanced urban guerilla warfare tactics? I’d say fire the coach.

    I’m willing to put their treatment of media down to emotions running high, anxiety, anger, fear. They’re angry poor kids who feel they have little other recourse. If I was 20 again, I’d probably have been out there smashing things with them. I understand their frustration.

  • david hadaway

    The words below are a comment by “Realist” following the Tyee’s piece on the recent so called riot. I was fairly robustly expressing my opinion of the Commercial Drive Ninjas, but this pulled me up short. I find it to have the ring of truth and the last sentence is particularly disturbing. I forwarded it to the Mayor. If true it is utterly shameful and needs exposure.

    Disabled losing housing due to Olympics

    It is unfortunate that things have come to this. I am a disabled father of a ten year old son. i live on a provincial P.W.D. disability benifiy. I receive $375 for shelter per month I live in B.C. Housing and my rent has just gone from $362/month to $510/month a whooping $148/ month over my shelter cost. The reason has been explained by B.C. Housing as being they no longer go by a assistance persons income but, their size of family unit. As of April 1st I along with my son will be homeless. No one is willing to step up and help us either. we get “oh that’s not right”, or “they can’t do that” but Pivot will not help nor will anyone else. When you live in a society and you are treated this way by the government and the society they represent, it becomes quite easy to realize that the only voice that is heard today is the extreme voice. Protestors are laughed at as the majority of society do not yet realize that they too are on the verge of marginalization. Ghandi said poverty is the worst form of violence yet when those forced into poverty due to circumstances beyond their control resort to violence to at least get a bit of publicity they are shunned, but which form of violence do you see as being the most evil. Soon a disabled man and his son will be thrown out into the street while the wealthy party on in Whistler. I for one am really starting to see the point of the terrorist in our society. They are the only ones capable of getting attention shed on what should really be imporatant. Do I agree with breaking windows just for fun? No, But then again what other voice do I have when no one will help a disabled man and his son fight agaqinst homelessness just to pay for some fireworks and a party for the wealthy. Even the NDP will not make this an issue because in my riding a BCLiberal won so I guess we are not worthy of help just to punish all of us for voting in a man who has done more to hurt the disabled and their families than anyone I have ever come across. If i can’t be with my son i don’t see much point of being here.

  • Stephanie

    I know about this case.

    BC Housing is restructuring the rent costs for people who receive a portion of their income from provincial income assistance or disability benefits. This applies to their buildings and to funded housing providers. They appear to be making a complete clusterf*ck of it. Some people will be paying money out of their support money for housing expenses (rent and utilities) that used to be covered by their shelter allowance.

    An organization I facilitate, Front Line Advocacy Workers, has already met about this. We are working on legal and other strategies, but it’s difficult because the Residential Tenancy Act excludes housing providers from rules around rent increases when rent is geared to income.

    We will have more to say about this after we’ve had a chance to get some more answers from BC Housing.

  • Higgins

    You know who you are, it is no need for me to name you. Choose one from the list below.
    The Good, The Bad, The Drunk, The Ugly,The Gorgeous, The Terminator, The Lost,… it looks like a posse to me! Guys, actually you are instigating the police to…violence. Only they are smarter than you are! Kudos to them. They can do without your “bricks in the windows” disguised in words.
    These lines were the Father of all comments:
    “Where was police brutality when you needed it?
    Where were your bloody Tasers boys?”
    What a bunch of sorry asses.

  • Stephanie

    @GJG: thank you. Yes.

  • Glissando Remmy

    The Thought of the Day

    “Poverty is the worst form of violence.” Mahatma Ghandi

    Simple words yet so true. Thanks David for posting that letter @40. Truly sad story.

    Re: Pictures, in Post 39, Spartikus.

    The FIRST one (Plus two grannies):
    Look closely at the picture down the page, the one with the Big Panda, and the sign “Hearts…You say protest…I say Party…Hearts”
    Mascot and designer made “anti-protest” signs!??
    Can you spell PREMEDITATION? You don’t pick those two from the “La Vie En Rose” store and continue down to Robson Square; you plan for it, you prepare for it and you act on it. Crashing a protest was already part of the curriculum for your “academy friends”.

    The SECOND one (orchestrated?):
    I wasn’t there, but from looking at that picture, a group of what, 10-15 people were passively looking, taking pictures and shooting film (I wonder how many were situated on the photographer’s side.).
    Only thing missing was the big Flashes and the shouts from them ” Hey Angelina, here darling! Hey, Brad can you smash the other window display too? Arnold, Arnold to your left, common Arnold I’m from LA too!”

    Exactly…Tabloid, red carpet material.
    Where was the police? I have to second Gassy Jack on this one.

    In no way I condone violence but I am surprised, very surprised others on this very blog are suggesting just that. Keep in mind that in our days Religion is long out of fashion and has no powers to calm the spirits. Napoleon Bonaparte said it best “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich”.
    Now, for all the poor-bashers out there, “Cum grano salis” and make whatever you want out of it.

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • spartikus

    Can you spell PREMEDITATION?

    Yes, that goes without saying. But the suggestion was made the counter demonstration was composed of cops.

    Maybe. Maybe the two older women are police sergeants in the riot squad.

    Anyway, I found the suggestion Saturday’s “black bloc” protesters hadn’t engaged in violence offensive. It was bush league violence, but it was still violence. It may bave been directed at “the Man” but there was, you know, collateral damage and blowback.

  • Gassy Jack’s Ghost

    Spartikus, I wasn’t suggesting there was no violence, I was suggesting that the violence was staged by the police infiltrators. And I wasn’t suggesting the photos weren’t real (I saw the aftermath myself), I was suggesting that the police let it happen. Ripping the pages out of a mostly sympathetic reporter’s notebook seems to me to be a great way to turn media in favour of police, and against the “thugs”.

    Honestly, I hope I’m wrong about this, but my main point is simply that our media has become lazy and compliant, and virtually no-one has questioned these events at all.

    The knee jerk reactions of blog commentators who now want the police to get tough — most of whom only a week ago were complaining bitterly about the security budget — is far more sickening to me than a few broken windows.

    I do admit, however, that the protesters protesting the protesters could have been Tories!

  • MB

    Where was the Pivot Legal Society? I heard they weren’t invited to the protests even though they are known to have very sharp focus on potential violations of civil liberties, and are high on the protestor’s contact list.

    Why were they purposely kept out of the protestor’s communications loop on this one?

    A raised black cloaked arm wielding a ball pean hammer or slingshot is a symbol of rage and violence. Whether it strikes an inanimate object or someone’s head is a matter of consequence, but the symbolism is the more powerful element.

  • spartikus

    I was suggesting that the police let it happen.

    That seems a reasonable interpretation to me.

  • Hoarse Whisperer

    Hope the arrest today of the group’s ringleader put your paranoid fantasies at ease, Spartikus and Gassy Jack.

    Really, I can see the cops are damned if they do and damned if they don’t with you two.