Hitler’s legacy comes to the streets of Vancouver

Nazi Torch RelayA friend who grew up in Nazi Germany recently informed me that Hitler’s Third Reich started the Olympic Torch relay as a propaganda tool for the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  Gee, I wonder why this fact isn’t widely reported by the mainstream media or highlighted on the IOC’s website?

But the nazi torch parade is not the only tool of fascism to come to Vancouver….

Remember the promises made before the Olympics were imposed on Vancouver and Whistler?  “Not a penny more than the initial cost of the bid”  exhorted Mayor Larry Campbell.

Back in 2003, his lie persuaded less than 20% of Vancouver’s residents to vote in favour of hosting the Olympics.  86,113 residents voted in favour (64% of votes cast) out of approx. 440,000 eligible voters and 545,000 residents.

The So-called Security (SS) budget has grown from $175,000 to $900 million and will end up well over $1 billion.  The reported 15,000 police and military SS agents make this the largest military operation in Western Canada since the end of Hitler’s War.

The overall cost of these “games,” once touted as being a mere $660,000, is now at least $6 billion and could reach $10 billion.  Does that mean Larry Campbell will pick up the difference?

I also recently learned that five of the corporate sponsors for this version of the Olympics are accused of human rights violations; no wonder the security budget is at least 45 times higher than originally expected…no wait, that’s because of the terrorist threat…see killercoke.org for more.

But these are mere details.  This, as is the case for every Olympics, is another formidable opportunity to privatize previously public places.

Three months ago when I tried to snowshoe with my daughter in a Provincial Park beside Cypress Mountain, we were told that the military had occupied it and it was closed to the public.

Two and a half months ago, the south side of False Creek was completely closed to the public.  No matter that it hosts two key bike routes (the Seawall is completely separated from motor vehicle traffic, while the Ontario route is the 2nd oldest in the City).  People on foot and bike are de facto terrorists because they obviously aren’t supporting the Olympic vehicle sponsor.

Two months ago, when my daughter and I tried to ride our tandem to a public swimming pool along the Seawall, the only safe, separated-from-cars route was blocked because David Lam Park was being paved over for an Olympic corporate sponsor’s pavilion.

The fences surrounding the venues, the helicopters flying day and night, and the uniformed and undercover SS out in large numbers suggest much more than a mere sporting festival.  With no one around weeks before the games actually begin, these closed public streets and parks suggest what the rich and powerful have always known: nothing in the public realm is really public property in our civilization.  And they will test out their latest weaponry and fortress-making with our taxes.  All on unceded Coast Salish Territory.

I may have witnessed the first attempt in so-called Canada to fully privatize public urban space in 2001 when a fence was built around the old town of Quebec.  Even then, the public space around the outside of the fence was deemed off-limits to the public.  Why do I suggest that?  Because the SS rained tear gas and rubber bullets at just about anyone that moved, day and night.  And 4 of my fellow accused were convicted of such heinous crimes as sitting under a tree, holding up signs, and (sit down for this one) asking where the toilet was.  I was arrested and held for 33 hours in a maximum security prison’s single person cell with 4 others.  The charge?  Illegal clothing.  I kid you not.

The thousands of closed-captioned cameras installed by the SS and bought and paid for by our federal taxes will not willingly be decommissioned.  Why waste our hard-earned tax money?  If we have ’em, let’s use ’em!  Especially with all those dangerous gangs and thugs around.  My suggestion is that we use them in the gang’s and thug’s own offices and workplaces: police cars, police stations, courts, government offices and the like.

The Olympic lanes are another lovely example of this creeping privatization.  Thousands of brand-new SUVs brought in for VANOC to drive around in have exclusive use of these lanes.  Oh sure, VANOC-approved buses can use them, too.  Unfortunately, there’s been at most 1 passenger in any of the hundreds of VANOC vehicles (SUV, Van, car, bus) I’ve seen.  Public buses?  Well, they would use the Olympic lanes if they weren’t full of SUVs.  Talk about turning transportation planning upside down.  Instead of banning Single Occupant Vehicles (SOVs) and using the abundant resulting space to reserve 24/7 public bus lanes (not to mention making transit Fare-Free so everyone could get around quickly and affordably), we have Olympic lanes for SUVs all month.

Yes, these will be the Greenest Games ever.  The trees on Cypress and (adjoining) Debt Mountain attest to this.  For Americans that relate green to money, the Whistler bankruptcy will ensure these games have lots of green associated with them.

However, the 4 million tonnes of carbon estimated to be emitted (probably even more now with snow being rained down from helicopters), the missed opportunities to built an accessible at-grade rail and bike link to Whistler and between Vancouver’s venues, and the continued push to pave South Surrey farmland and forests for the next $6-10 billion project (see Gatewaysucks.org) will not colour these Olympics green.

The $800 million cost of the Sea-to-Sky/Eagleridge Bluffs Highway Project that killed Tseybayotl (aka Harriet Nahanee) could have more than doubled the bus fleet (1,000 now; up to 1,600 new).  Fare-Free Transit with 10 minute service could have been a reality with these extra buses and it could have facilitated the banning of SOVs and the spread of 24/7 bus lanes throughout the Lower Mainland.  Now think about what the $6-10 billion earmarked for Gateway would do for transit, rail, and bike infrastructure…or women’s shelters.  Too bad we just can’t afford luxuries like these.

And then there’s the promise to not displace one person for the games; another lie exposed.  3,000 more homeless people can not be covered up despite the SS’s cleanup attempts utilizing the latest in bylaw fashion.  See http://olympictentvillage.wordpress.com/ for more.

Luckily for me, this independent media reporter doesn’t have to cross a national border.  One that tried, Martin Macias Jr., an independent media reporter from Chicago was rejected by Canadian border agents and held without outside contact for at least 7 hours.  Hitler would be proud.

Don’t despair!  If you can’t escape the insanity then consider venting some of your passion at the many creative and inclusive events planned for Friday and beyond.  You can check http://olympicresistance.net/ for the latest schedule; here’s what was known at press time:
– Fri Feb 12: Resist the Torch! Resist the Games! The Olympic Torch will be coming through our neighbourhoods. Meet at Victory Square, Cambie and Hastings at 8:30 am or Grandview Park on Commercial Drive at 9 am. Let’s show VANOC and their Coca-Cola corporate spectacle what community really looks like. Celebrate our strength, creativity, and diversity.
– Fri Feb 12: Take Back Our City! “Welcome” the 2010 Olympic Torch with Free Games, Free Speech, and Free Food! Beginning with a festival at the Vancouver Art Gallery at 3 pm, followed by a parade and protest to BC Place Stadium. Details, including childcare, at: http://2010welcoming.wordpress.com/
– Sat Feb 13. 2010 Heart Attack: Street March to Clog the Arteries of Capitalism. Arrive at 8:30 am in Thornton Park (Main and Terminal). This demonstration will respect diversity of tactics and aims to disturb “business as unusual” on the first day of the Games! Details: http://olympicresistance.net/content/2010-heart-attack
– Sat Feb 13th from noon to 5 pm: Call to Action by No Sochi 2014 Committee. The next Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia in 2014. Demonstrations will be held in front of the Russian “Sochi House” at Science World between 12-5pm at Thornton Park to protest against the 2014 Sochi Olympics on the Land of Circassian Genocide.
– On Sun Feb 14th, we will be standing with the 19th Annual Women’s Memorial March to honour all the missing and murdered and women in the DTES (this is not an anti-Olympic protest). Details at: http://womensmemorialmarch.wordpress.com/
– Mon Feb 15 (ONGOING): Noon at Pigeon Park (Carrall and Hastings). No empty talk, no empty lots! Rally for Homes and Support the Olympic Tent Village. Organized by DTES-based, anti-poverty, and housing rights groups. http://olympictentvillage.wordpress.com
– Mon Feb 15: Vancouver Art Gallery, Gathering at 6:00pm and leaving at 6:30pm. Come out and be part of an anti-war and anti-militarization moving spectacle. This event is a festive and creative demand for the Canadian government to respect and uphold human-rights, international law, the right to self-determination and civil rights.Organized by Stopwar.ca
– Friday, Feb 12, 2010 at 8:00pm, Legion Hall, 2205 Commercial Drive. We do not like the Olympics Celebration Party! Lineup: Dreamscene, Legally Blind, DJ Josef, DJ Kinky Kitty, Team YPE Cost: $3 – ($1297 cheaper than a ticket to the opening ceremonies). Nobody turned away.
– Fri Feb 12: Resistance Media Lounge at Rhizome Café, 317 East Broadway at 8 pm. Join the Vancouver Media Co-op for a mash up of protest footage, news, and images from the actions against the Olympic torch and the kick off of the anti-Olympics convergence.
– Sat Feb 13, 8:00pm at Rhizome Cafe (317 East Broadway). Anne Feeney in Concert: 5 Ring Circus Special. Join Anne Feeney for political songs about: the environment, jobs, gay rights, women’s rights, stopping racism and other forms of discrimination, homelessness, a world without war, and much, much more. $12-$20 sliding scale.
– Sunday Feb 14. People’s Prom. The most kick ass antidote to Valentine’s Day in the city. You like funk and frolic? Love and revolution? Perfect. All money raised goes toward grassroot, direct action and creative resistance groups engaged in the resistance to the 2010 Olympics. http://peoplesprom.resist.ca/
– Friday, Feb 19, 7:00pm at Rhizome Cafe (317 East Broadway). Board Games are Soooo Gay! Board Games, not Olympic Games! Bring your favourite games or use ours. Our in-house DJs will keep the tunes coming.
– Saturday, Feb 20. Rally for a National Housing Program from noon-2 pm, north Side of Vancouver Art Gallery. The UN now calls Canada’s housing crisis, ‘a national emergency.’ Come join this rally to pressure the federal government to once again re-establish a national housing program in Canada. Organized by Impact on Communities Coalition.
– Sat Feb 20: Anti-OH-LIMP-IC show at Rickshaw Theater, 254 East Hastings Street. Door at 8 pm. D.O.A. will headline. The games are not much more than a corporate sellout. Professor Chris Shaw, who wrote the definitive book Five Ring Circus: Myths and Realities of the Olympic Games will speak at the event.