Friday, March 12, 2010

Not a Free Country

On Friday, February 19th, Students Live met up for another team meeting. This was a shorter one and included an interview for a CBC feature telecast story. We also learnt that we had tickets to the mens' Olympic hockey game for later that day of Czech Republic versus Latvia, which proved to be unexpectedly exciting. Around lunchtime, the group dispersed on assignment in downtown to get stories. I traveled with Stergios, Genny and Ben in the hopes of interviewing protesters. So we walked.

We headed toward the art gallery, a location noted for its pieces and notorious for its potheads. We passed by the Olympic clock and went by a street vendor selling unlicensed "Olypic" paraphernalia, but we did not see any protesters and it appeared that The Bay's windows had been repaired; thus, protest was wholly absent (and the word "Olympic" was slightly more absent than had been intended).

Our next stop was the main Vancouver Public Library. On the way, we found some a police officer and questioned him as to the whereabouts of the once prominent protesters and he informed us that protesting had dried up following the first few days after the games were declared open. This was partly due to the bad publicity and reputation generated in the aftermath of The Bay incident on Sunday the 13th and partly because local law enforcement had taken it upon themselves to arrest any Olympic opposers on sight. Canada is, of course, recognized as a land of freedom, but it turns out that you could gain a minor criminal record even if just handing out flyers, as they were apparently making arrests through loopholes and over technicalities, potentially including obstruction of a public sidewalk. This policeman then directed us to the downtown eastside's tent city, where he assured that we would be able to find some Olympic opposition. We marched on.