As many protest groups warned earlier in the month, anti-Olympics organizations clogged the streets of Vancouver as the 2010 Games began on Saturday. Protesters brought a "circus-like atmosphere" to the city for the first part of the morning, but then some more violent protesters began smashing windows and spray-painting retail outlets.
According to the CBC
, these protesters - some dressed in black balaclavas and masks - smashed "up to three windows at the Hudson's Bay store and one at the Toronto-Dominion Bank near the intersection of Granville and West Georgia streets."
Some estimates put the number of demonstrators at 200.
Before the crowd could wind its way to some of the more popular hotels in the area, Vancouver Police dispersed the protesters with tear gas. Police forced the large contingent to break up into smaller groups, and the clash was then over.
Police told CBC seven suspects were arrested, including one person with a bicycle chain wrapped around his fist. Charges of mischief were pending. They also claimed to have seized a bag containing a hammer.
Police told Globe & Mail
they believe the protesters are anarchists.
The demonstration involved a number of anarchists, some of whom dress all in black and employ a tactic, called Black Bloc. This included a loosely organized group of thugs from central Canada known to attach themselves to any cause, travel to any event that attracts media coverage and promote anarchy wherever they go. Vancouver police respect the rights of those who wish to express their criticism but that does not give them right to commit crimes and jeopardize the public's safety.
Some Vancouverites claim police used excessive force. The Vancouver Sun
reports people "allege police officers hit protesters and refused to tell them their rights.".
Saturday's protest follows another demonstration on Friday. An event
called the 2010 Heart Attack inspired demonstrators to push over newspaper boxes and the Bay store had its windows smashed or spray-painted.