March 18, 2010

ORN Celebrates Success of Convergence


PRESS RELEASE - February 25th, 2010

The Olympic Resistance Network celebrates success of convergence and promises future action

VANCOUVER - The Olympic Resistance Network (ORN) has declared the success of the Convergence and protests against the 2010 Winter Olympics as a victory both against the Olympic industry and for local struggles for social and environmental justice. In spite of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) attempts to cover up the human rights and environmental violations of the corporate sponsors and host governments, the mobilization of communities across the country has forced the issues of homelessness, colonization, policing, public debt and environmental destruction into the public debate.

With just a few thousand dollars and volunteer labour, the success of the anti-Olympic movement is truly impressive considering the $6-7 billion budget backing the Olympic Games. The Games have left a clear legacy of resistance, as more than 30 cities across Canada disrupted the torch relay and hundreds of organizers, activists and independent media attended the Convergence from across Canada, the U.S., and internationally.

The Convergence began with a two day summit of speakers, panels, and workshops in which hundreds of people participated. February 12th, the day of the Opening Ceremonies, the torch relay was disrupted 3 times in Vancouver alone. That afternoon more than 3500 people marched in the Take Back Our City demonstration that was led by indigenous elders and included environmentalists, faith-based organizations, student groups, migrant justice activists, anti-poverty organizers and many more.

On February 13th, the first full day of competition, the city woke up to the 2010 Heart Attack demonstration which attained its goals of clogging the streets and disrupting "business as usual" by shutting down the Lion's Gate Bridge traffic. February 14th, ORN stood in solidarity with the annual Women's Memorial March to honor murdered and missing women from across BC and Canada. The march was the largest in recent memory with at least 4000-5000 people.

On February 15th hundreds of people marched through the streets of downtown Vancouver against militarization and the Olympic police state. That same day, people established a tent city at 58 West Hastings Street, a Concord Pacific property leased to Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC). The site is still occupied so the world can see the ongoing resistance to the impact of the games and the broken bid promises.

The Convergence organized by the ORN provided the infrastructure to support these actions, some of which were coordinated by other groups and organizations. The ORN provided a diversity of ways for the public to get involved and voice their dissent over the Olympics industry. And while there have been suggestions of division within the anti-olympics movement, organizers remain united in their opposition to the Olympics industry and celebrate the successes of the movement. "We hope this corporate circus will continue to be confronted where ever it goes in the world by the people that are impacted by the Olympics industry including its sponsors. We hope that people will continue to see this spectacle as another point of resistance in addition to the WTO and G8. The impact of the Olympics on host communities can bring together the local struggles for justice and the struggles for radical change against these larger institutions” says Anna Hunter.

Much has been made of the politically motivated property damage on the morning of February 13th on the accusation that protesters discredited the movement. Yet drunken Olympic fans regularly engage in fist fights on the streets of Vancouver, urinate in alleys and commit random acts of vandalism. Not to mention the numerous security personnel sent home for misconduct. While focusing on a few broken windows, media have ignored the thousands of people that took to the streets fighting for social justice.

In the coming weeks BC residents will witness further cuts to social services. Tar sands pipelines, mines and logging operations continue to try and expand over unceded indigenous territories. And while the IOC, VANOC and the Games will be gone, we will still be here! Community organizations and individuals that have participated in or supported activities of the ORN continue to fight for justice.

On February 28th the ORN will be joining other community organizations in celebrating their resistance to the games and committing to ongoing organizing.

*Games Over! Resistance Lives! - Celebrating Unity & Solidarity* *Join us Sunday February 28th 1pm at Smithe and Cambie*

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