Olympic lesson: not all protests are the same
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The Olympics is a great time to get exposure for issues happening in Canada in the international media. The city is overflowing with media and people.
Yesterday just happened to be the 21st annual National Anti Fur Day. Protests were held all across Canada against the fur industry. We were handing out leaflets and raising awareness about the plight of fur bearing animals brutally skinned for Snow Flake Furs at Fairmont Hotel. We got tons of signatures and support from everyone walking by. There’s a great group of elderly citizens who go out to the fur Store every Friday from 11am-1pm. So if you missed NAFD, you can still help out every Friday.
After the fur protest, some of us joined up with the anti-Olympic march happening downtown. The reports vary from 1,500 to 3,000 participants. It was certainly the largest protest we’ve ever joined. The peaceful marching clogged up the traffic. Banners were waving from all different groups, ranging from anti tar sands groups to anti poverty groups.
And of course, the one and only message at the march representing animals was our anti-seal hunt banner. It was peaceful and, collectively, we made a very powerful statement to the Olympic organizers. International media was on top of parking garages and trailing the march to get coverage. I’ve never seen so many media cameras in my life.
Today, another march was organized for 8am this morning. Thinking that it was going to be like any other Olympic protest, we made banners and got dressed in our warm clothes to go. When we got there, we noticed that the attendees were much younger this time and many dressed in black. There were only a few hundred people this time, but we assumed the low turnout was due to the earliness of the event.
The march was advertised as “Heart Attack: street march to clog the arteries of capitalism.” So it was not very surprising that the route was not published and the leaders of the protests made turns unexpectedly.
However, after marching for about half an hour, things started to get weird. People started to tip over mail boxes and spray paint things. We continued the march for a few more minutes and came upon more tipped mail boxes and garbage cans.
At that point we decided to pull our group out of the march. And we collectively agreed that the animals cannot be represented at this kind of an event. As we stood on the sidewalk to put away our banners, police in riot gear started to arrive and helicopters were circling overhead. It was definitely not the kind of protest we wanted to be a part of.
It was very disheartening to see the destructive tactics being used by some protesters to get attention for their cause.
Next time, we will be sure to do a lot more research before joining up with a protest organized by someone else!