Anti-Olympic protesters break into office of British Columbia premier

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Olympic Flag outside the Vancouver City Hall. This particular flag was replaced with a replica after it was stolen.

Three anti-Olympic games protesters, posed as a flower delivery service, quickly ransacked British Columbia, Canada premier Gordon Campbell's downtown Vancouver, British Columbia office yesterday afternoon, breaking windows and throwing pictures, office documents, and various other items.

After the suspects were caught, they said that they were upset over Campbell's support for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia. They also claimed to work for "The Anti-Poverty Committee".

They are now facing charges for property damage and uttering threats during or after the incident. Police are only identifying them as a 23-year-old man, a 29-year-old man, and a 17-year old female. The 23-year-old faces a third charge of assault by trespassing.

Organization opposed to 2010 Winter Olympic Games

"The Anti-Poverty Committee", which claims to help the homeless and poor in the city, are opposed to the 2010 Winter Olympics and have said they would ransack offices and homes of board members of the 2010 Winter Olympics organizing committee.

The official Olympic rings.
The official Olympic rings.

Poor citizens are losing their homes due to the money spent and developments near the city on preparation for the long-awaited 2010 Winter Olympics, they believe.

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan cited his concerns over the organization saying, "I think it gives the city a black eye. It doesn't make Vancouver look good."

Canadian Association of Journalists upset with police

This event follows an incident, last Saturday, during which anti-poverty activist David Cunningham was arrested. A police officer posed as a journalist for news source Vancouver 24 hours conducting what Cunningham believed to be a legitimate interview in downtown Vancouver. Cunningham was later arrested for alleged harassment, at a protest last Wednesday, to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games organizing committee.

The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) said on Monday that they are disappointed with the police officer who posed as a journalist for 24 Hours.

...They've shown a callous disregard for the media's ability to do its job...

—Canadian Association of Journalists, President Paul Schneidereit

"The police's actions in this case were reprehensible," CAJ President Paul Schneidereit concerned. "They've shown a callous disregard for the media's ability to do its job, which can only be undermined by these foolish, play-acting escapades by police officers who should know better."

"It is astonishing that police don't seem to think the implications of these things through before they act. Even the police spokesman who explained what happened at a press conference Sunday expressed misgivings about using such a tactic," Schneidereit said. "Impersonating a journalist is destructive on several levels. First, potential sources may refuse to speak to a reporter in the future, fearing they are not who they claim. That means information vital to the public interest may never get publicized. Second, journalists trying to do their jobs could now be in greater danger from those who, believing those journalists may be police officers, then threaten their physical well-being."

24 Hours editor-in-chief, Dean Broughton, this week also expressed some disappointment at the actions of the police. Broughton said he is issuing a complaint with British Columbia's Police Complaint Commissioner. "We strongly object to the police using such tactics. It undermines our credibility."

According to information from CanadaNewsWire, British Columbia police, in November 2005, posed as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), made friends and drank wine with a man from a Kamloops, British Columbia jail, John Bjornstrom, who escaped after being arrested for ransacking cottages for approximately two years, then arrested him 5 hours later.