The 2010 Plan to Crush Our Freedoms
Olympics security overkill: Why so afraid of protest?
By Rafe Mair
20 Jul 2009,
Less than two weeks ago, Bud Mercer, head of the Vancouver 2010 Integrated
Security Unit looking after security for the 2010 Olympics, raised with
Vancouver City Council the specter of the violent clashes that rocked World
Trade Organization meetings in Seattle and Quebec City.
To combat these forecasted dangers, the taxpayer is spending one billion
dollars, at last count, and using 16,000 police and armed forces personnel!
To support this gross overkill, Mercer said, "I can assure council as I
stand before you here today, that locally, provincially, nationally and
internationally, there are groups that are considering or planning to engage in
criminal protests during the 2010 Games. North America and Canada are not
strangers to criminal protests during major events -- the 1999 Seattle WTO,
2001 in Quebec City or the Stanley Cup riot. There are things that will
happen during a major event that we have a responsibility to plan and prepare
Mercer added that such precautions include more than 900 cameras to guard
the perimeters of Olympic venues, the creation of "free speech" zones where
protesters can legally demonstrate, and a 2010 security force of 7,000
police, 5,000 private security officers and 4,500 members of the Canadian
Mercer didn't define just what a "criminal protest" was but one suspects
it is much different than my definition and that of many readers.
Urge to protest isn't intent to kill Mercer and authorities ought to know, but evidently don't know, that protesters waving banners and shouting insults don't assassinate people. They annoy the hell out of the establishment, which some might say is an excellent reason for encouraging them, but they don't assassinate. (I'm not talking
here of the huge riots we've seen, alas, in other lands. But Mr. Mercer
clearly isn't thinking of them either.)
The Americans have had four presidential assassinations: Lincoln,
Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy. All these men were killed by a single fanatic.
Indeed, Lincoln, in the midst of a civil war, moved easily in large crowds, as
did Kennedy in his day at the height of the Cold War.
Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were killed by individual
assassins and not by picketers. Robert Kennedy was assassinated by a single
mad man, and Archduke Ferdinand, whose assassination in July 1914 triggered
the First World War, was killed by an anarchist.
Mohandas Gandhi, and the unrelated sharers on his surname, Indira and Raj,
were killed not by protesters but by individual terrorists; in the case of
Mohandas and Raj Gandhi, by Hindu fanatics; and in Mrs. Gandhi's case, it
was two of her bodyguards.
Lord Louis Mountbatten died when IRA members planted a bomb on his yacht.
There have been at least three unsuccessful attempts on the lives of U.S.
presidents: Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. None were by
Democracy needs dissent
Mr. Mercer and others of his persuasion would do well to read the law
which both here and in the United States is in clear, unadorned English.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states in section two,
"Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: (b) freedom of thought,
belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other
media of communication; (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of
The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution states:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or
of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to
petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Thomas Jefferson said, "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security are
deserving of neither."
Pepper spray or Tasers?
Yes, these are perilous times but the truth remains. Large crowds waving
banners and shouting slogans unto the obscene do not kill people. What they
do is make it embarrassing because, in the words of the Anglican Book of
Common Prayer, they offend "those set in authority over us."
It's interesting to note that policeman Mercer talks about special places
for protesters just as they have third amendment sites for free speech in
America. What the hell point is there in making people protest in places
where the objects of their attention are out of ear shot and thus invisible to
Does it take 16,500 cops and soldiers to ferret out potential assassins
and locate them? That, plus denying honest citizens their right to associate
Of course not.
This is 1997 APEC revisited, where one radical youth was put in jail
several days before the parade and only released if he promised not to go to the
scene; where a young law school student was jailed for carrying a cloth
banner saying "Democracy" and "Free Speech" and where protesters were hit
with pepper spray for no greater sin than saying nasty things about the nasty
heads of state and heads of government that our authorities didn't want
It was pepper spray then. Will it be Taser guns this time?
Modern day Potemkin villages
This billion dollar extravagance has, I suspect, a lot less to do with
perceived terror than giving off to the international media the image of
sweetness and light in a place where never is heard a discouraging word. This is
akin to the Potemkin villages, which were shacks with beautiful façades
created so that the visiting Tsarina, Catherine II, would believe that this
village she was visiting was a prosperous with loyal and happy subjects.
VANOC, under considerable pressure from governments, doesn't want the
image of Canada, Vancouver or Whistler tarnished with evidence that not
everyone wanted the Olympics and that a great many people see them as bad for
society for one reason or another.
The classic reason to protest is to ask others, especially those in
charge, to see and hear the messages portrayed. Whether these protests are
against a war in Vietnam, against separate facilities for blacks, or against
heads of countries whose stated commitment to freedom is not matched by
reality, they are perfectly legal and, in fact, the quintessential expression of
the freedom which connotes a free society.
If, God forbid, there is an attack on anyone, you can be sure that it
would have happened with or without demonstrations.
VANOC's position is untenable in a free society, expensive out of all
proportion to the risk of serious harm and a huge waste of our money to boot.