Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is This What Democracy Looks Like? Police Wield Broad Powers Against Olympic Protesters

"The fact that these cops were exercising that power with a broad interpretation of anticipated harm in the context of a political protest makes me uncomfortable. The fact that this was taking place against an Olympic backdrop does nothing to ease my discomfort." - Robin Perelle

Robin Perelle writes:
(Vancouver, Canada) We were ambling up Dunsmuir towards the Robson Square zipline when several officers suddenly stepped forward and detained my friend. They said they recognized him from the protest on Saturday, the one that turned ugly.

They called him an instigator. He wasn't, Davyd had already told me over coffee that morning. He was there, yes, but he neither threw anything nor condoned the destruction. He was there to peacefully protest all the resources allocated to the Olympics, he said.

I wasn't there that morning. I didn't see the masked protesters angrily break the Bay's windows. I didn't see the peaceful protesters hoist a ladder to hold as a barrier between themselves and the advancing line of riot police. I didn't feel the fear likely mounting on all sides, nor did I hear the riot police allegedly attempt to goad the ladder line.

But I did watch seven officers converge on my friend the next day, handcuff him and send him to jail. And I was shocked.

"What are you charging him with?" I asked, even as I punched in the number for the BC Civil Liberties' legal observers team. READ MORE