UBC student group fails to disrupt Olympic torch relay

A different vantage point. By Flickr user jritch77.

[My vantage point: In front of UBC Bookstore. Note: I was out by 6:00 pm.]

At time of writing, there’s only one word to describe the UBC leg of the torch relay: lame.*

I arrived about 30 minutes before the torch and shuffled in under a ceiling of umbrellas, between more-or-less quiet spectators. Rain glistened on the roads and a handful of people held candles in cups. Across the street, I made out the outline of small children. They looked up at their parents as if asking, “why are we here on this dark, rainy, muddy night?”

Heads were turned westward, searching for the light of the flame.

I, however, was scanning the crowds for UBC Olympics Alert, a UBC-based group who had publicly committed to disrupting the torch today. The Georgia Strait quoted Sarah Stevenson, a student and member of the UBC Student Legal Fund Society, as saying:

…the group will then attempt to intercept the relay, “even if momentarily”.

But that moment would never come.

When the torchbearer passed me–preceded by, surrounded by, and followed by burly men in dark suits–the protesters were nowhere in sight. Right behind them, about seven rows of police officers in yellow jackets rode past on white motorcycles. A helicopter circled the area.

Most spectators followed the caravan toward the live band, but many others dispersed, leaving the crowd noticeably thinner.

As I walked back to my campus residence, I heard loud cheering. I assumed some people were defiantly excited, despite the blase atmosphere.

Then I looked up at the grassy knoll.

Protesters stood in shadows, holding signs I could barely make out. I squinted and managed to read “STUDENT’S CAMPUS NOT VANOC’S CIRCUS” and “NO TORCH 2010.”

I stopped for a few minutes to watch as people walked by them. Some made snide remarks and others ignored them completely.

At time of writing (6:55pm Thursday night) there is little—-disappointingly little—-to report about either side.

Different vantage point:

A friend tells me that there were about 100 more protesters at University & Main Mall with signs like “STUDENTS DO NOT APPROVE.” He says this group was a lot more visible.


*I mention this in the comments below but, just to reinforce the point, I’m sharing my personal experience (for what its worth). Feel free to round out the story by adding your own vantage points.

Read my colleague’s more detailed account here.


13 thoughts on “UBC student group fails to disrupt Olympic torch relay

  1. You definately were at the wrong part of the relay. Just in front of Mahoney’s right before the torch went on, a flash mob of people with glow sticks took over the middle of the street. Heard it would probably be on the 11:00 news

    • Fair enough.
      (Which is why I included the vantage point and time of post.)

      If I was actually reporting, I would have poked around a bit more. I’m sure I only got one slice of the story.

  2. It wasn’t huge, but we were there. There were police, there was press, there were the wonderful legal observers of BCCLU which always make me feel really safe. There was a lot of loud chanting, but after the detentions on the grassy knoll last time I guess there was not a lot of will to go do something that would put the police in a position to start arresting people. I had reports of a single detention, but didn’t witness it with my own eyes.

    I heard that larger protests are planned at the UBC for next week. Apart from the not-UBC based ones, of course.

    Hope to see you all at the (non-olympics-related) Memorial March on Sunday!

    • I *might* actually be reporting on the march for the Tyee. It depends on how things play out.

      I think that’ll be an interesting day with so much going on in the city (not to mention Chinese New Year right around the same area).

    • Was that glow stick dance on the event schedule? Interesting.
      I did wonder how people were simply allowed to flood the middle of the street right before the flame arrived.

  3. I saw one person handcuffed in the back of a squad car near that science building next to the theatre that’s next to Irving Barber. I’m bad with building names.

    • Yes, “alex” above mentioned the arrest. So, as the eye witness you complete that picture.
      I like this vantage point exercise 🙂

      Do you have any idea why the person was arrested? Did s/he seem to be resisting?

  4. No idea about resisting. They were allegedly arrested for carrying around a fire extinguisher. Police claimed stolen property, as some fire extinguishers went missing around campus today. Arrested man claimed he had a fire extinguisher because he was in charge of safety for a chemistry demonstration along the torch route.

    Fab, can I have your email so I can fwd my friend’s comments? I’m not sure how comfortable they are with public release.

  5. No, he was very calm. But I didn’t see the arrest, only him sitting in the squad car. According to ubcinsiders it was a misunderstanding: “SUS volunteer gets arrested for carrying a chem demonstration safety fire extinguisher back to storage during torch relay.”

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