Police forces and several thousand anti-Olympic protesters met in a tense clash outside of BC Place Friday night, as the 2010 Opening Ceremonies kicked off inside the stadium. The demonstration is, at present, the high watermark for anti-Games protest. Estimates of the peak size of the crowd range from three to five thousand.
The demonstrators converged on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery Friday afternoon at around 2pm. The demonstration began with music, speeches from anti-games activists, and the occasional tense confrontation between protesters and pro-Games visitors.
The protestors gave varying reasons for attending.
“I think it’s just a few people who really benefit from it when most of us will have a huge debt to pay off,” said Mustafa Ururyar, a Political Science student at SFU. “It’s the crony capitalists of the big corporations who are close to the politicians that really make the money.”
At around 4pm the demonstration moved into the streets and proceeded east on Georgia. At its peak, the crowd stretched four blocks. It made its way along Homer, with a group of First Nations people leading the way with songs and chants.
Some onlookers expressed their annoyance with the protesters.
“I don’t believe in this. I’m proud to be a Canadian,” said Christina Garson, a Vancouver resident decked out in red and white. “I came to show the tourists that came to Canada that we are a wonderful country.”
Things became tense as the protest turned on Robson and BC Place Stadium came into view. VPD officers, some on horseback, assembled in a line on Beatty to block the demonstration. A standoff began. At 6pm, with the Opening Ceremonies playing on screens along the block, cops and protesters began pushing against one another. Some demonstrators grabbed pylons from along the street and threw them at the police line. The number of protesters dwindled after an announcement from organizers that the demo would return to the VAG. The protest ended at around 8pm. The VPD could not be reached by press time, though no arrests were observed.
See Monday’s issue of The Ubyssey for more extensive protest coverage.
—With files from Samantha Jung