Olympic lesson: not all protests are the same

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Olympic lesson: not all protests are the same

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.

National Anti-Fur Day protest at Snowflake Furs

Collecting petitions

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!


5 Comments

michaeljwjr

February 13, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Fantastic article. I posted in on twitter and facebook. Protesting should be about Education. Not instigation or intimidation.

Becci

February 13, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Good grief, I heard about that. Good thing you got out of there when you did.

It’s a shame that people decided to act in a destructive manner. Yesterday’s protest was so peaceful overall, and then this happens. Grrr.

Wo_Dao

February 14, 2010 at 1:10 am

Waugh…so glad you folks got out of there in time.

Sometimes I’m quite paranoid about double-agents in protests, pretending to be a part of what we believe in, yet pulling the nastiest crap we would see. I have no clue what’s up with that “dress in black” group you all saw earlier.

I was quite disheartened when co-workers just thought bad about them; instead of empathizing.

I totally empathize….yet I will also say as anyone else…such brutal protesting methods ain’t the way to go.

Alexandra Jones

February 14, 2010 at 8:57 am

Double agents is the first thing I thought of when I heard about how this turned so ugly. Good for you guys for getting the heck out of there and not being associated with the violent tactics of the other group, whoever they were.

Lindsay

February 15, 2010 at 12:50 pm

The unfortunate thing is that it has overshadowed many of the other protests in the mainstream media, with the added problem that even the issue that they are marching for has become invisible! It’s done more harm than good.

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