[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.