Torch Relay Protest

2009 November 07, by Chapter Council

Above: Snakes in the Grass protesters wait for the Olympic torch at the Blue Bridge in Victoria, taking the opportunity to educate RCMP Constable Ross Wallace on the finer points of corporate bad behaviour.

On Friday, October 30, 2009, at the start of the Torch Relay in Victoria, staged two demonstrations against some of the worst sponsors of the Olympics and the overall outrageous spending on the relay at the expense of social services cuts. Early in the morning five hardy souls braved the cold and damp to be at the Blue Bridge when the torch was passed from one runner to the next and carried over the bridge. We were actually personally escorted to the other side of the entrance by Constable Wallace of the RCMP so that we would be better positioned when the torch arrived. (The above photo shows four of us just before we moved across the road.) The torch was an hour or two late in arriving, so we had lots of time to educate the RCMP and the media about our objections to various sponsors of the Olympics and our outrage at the $30 million cost of the torch relay, of which $20 million is taxpayer funded and the rest by mainly Coca Cola, notorious for unethical and criminal acts around the world, and RBC, the major financier of the Alberta tar sands, the most environmentally destructive mega-project on the planet.

Two vans full of cheerleaders passed by, the first loudly touting the virtues of Coke and the second singing the praises of RBC. Shouts of “SHAME!” and “BOO!” drowned them out as we waved and bobbed our protest signs right next to the vans. Here are some shots of a few of our signs.

As the torch carrier finally approached, the next runner engaged us in conversation, objecting to our negative view of many aspects of the Olympics. Naturally, he was completely oblivious to them and totally hyped about his role in the relay. At the passing of the flame from one torch to the next, we made a lot of noise and bobbed our signs up and down, attracting media attention and making it impossible for them to photograph the event without including us. All of this took place just a few feet away from the two relay runners.

In spite of a great deal of media attention, including multiple photographs, videos and interviews, our demonstration at the Blue Bridge was not reported on anywhere in the mainstream media, except for a few seconds of fame in a few of the local TV news reports.

In the afternoon we joined No2010 in “Five Ring Circus”, an anti-Olympics festival in Centennial Square at Victoria City Hall (see above). More of our protest signs are shown below.