Olympic protesters promise to be loud but peaceful

Canadian anti-Olympic protesters are promising their voices will

be loud but their actions nonviolent during the Winter Games.

Under the banner of the Olympic Resistance Network, a consortium

of groups is promising a series of protests starting this

weekend.

“We are absolutely a threat to the games,” Harjap Grewal of

ORN said Thursday. “We are not a threat to the public.”

Next week’s protests will culminate in a march on the opening

ceremonies Feb. 12. Chris Shaw, of 2010 Watch, said organizers hope

thousands of demonstrators will participate.

ORN spokeswoman Harsha Walia said any violence during anti-games

protests will not be started by protesters.

“Police violence is a reality,” she said, adding Vancouver is

being turned into a “police state” before the games. Two blocks

away, barricades closed roads as dozens of police officers in

fatigues guarded gateways watched by surveillance cameras.

Security for the Vancouver Games is costing Canadians almost

$609 million, four times the original estimate.

Assistant Commissioner Bud Mercer of the Royal Canadian Mounted

Police said that protests will be allowed to proceed as long as

they area peaceful and lawful.

Anti-games activists say the billions of dollars spent on the

games, including new transportation infrastructure and a convention

center, would have been better spent on education, health and

social housing.

The ORN held its news conference in the Downtown Eastside, an

area plagued with poverty and drug use. Gord Hill of the

Kwa-Kwa-Ka’wakw aboriginal nation said 30 percent of the people in

the area are aboriginal.

“This is ground zero of the socio-economic impact of the 2010

Olympics,” he said.

A tent city for protesters and the homeless also is being

established not far from the opening ceremony venue. Walia said

protest leaders have had safety training and medical and legal

teams will be on standby. Immigration lawyers will also be

available, she said.

On The Net:

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