What is this whole “Riot 2010” thing about anyway?

I’ve been asked this more than once in the past year, and despite frustration with lack of education and awareness of such critical issues as homelessness, environmental destruction, corporate colonialism and native land claims, its refreshing when people express an interest or atleast an openness to hearing about the causes, instead of knee-jerk defensive reactions that stem from ignorance, fear and antipathy.

This message was distributed via the Burning Van email list and I’d like to share it because it encapsulates many of the sentiments which are present in the current resistance to the 2010 winter games as well as summing up nicely how the reality of a situation can differ greatly from media spin.

Unfortunately we live in a world full of so many distractions it becomes extremely difficult to convey complex issues. “Drink Coca Cola”. Corporations spend hundreds of millions of dollars to distill our weaknesses into simple easy to digest jingles and slogans. “Just do it.” Media is always looking for a sound bite, but dozens of intertwined issues can’t be captured in a sound bite. If it can’t tweet it’s too complex.

“Protesters broke windows”, captures the short attention span of so many. “Over 2000 demonstrators peacefully participated in a march to voice their concerns on issues which include child poverty (B.C. has the worst record in Canada), a huge homeless problem, cuts to the arts, schools and health care; environmental destruction from Olympic related highway construction; a green-washing campaign attempting to make this spectacle appear eco-friendly while 4500 Olympic SUVs are parading dignitaries and athletes around, generators are running 24/7 throughout a city rich in electrical power, and helicopters constantly buzz overhead; unsightly fences, overzealous security, police on every corner and uncountable security cameras erode our civil liberties; native issues are largely ignored while disputed land is used to host Olympic events and treaties are increasingly used as a way to circumvent environmental accountability while this government spends many billions of dollars on a two week party that mostly benefits the rich”, does not.

These issues are often symptoms of much deeper complex problems and are inter-connected in ways that we could have endless debate about. You may agree with some on the face of it while disagreeing with others. One beauty is that the inclusivity of Friday’s demonstration allowed all these ideas to come forward even if not all agreed with each point and some messages were lost in their very complexity. Various groups have been trying for decades to bring many of these issues to the fore and many continually get worse for “lack of funding” or ideological excuses. There is a sense of frustration that a demonstration of this sort expresses better than other approaches can.

We have just come through probably the largest economic expansion in the history of humanity and still, in a country as rich as ours, we have increasing social, economic and environmental problems and our senior governments show little will to do much about it.

When 50,000 people marched against nukes we ALL had a vested interest in mutual disarmament. And we only got 50,000?

It’s not really surprising that those supporting these sometimes more isolated or complex fine-grained issues have not reached the level of
sophistication as an anti-nuke or end Vietnam march. And you could have tweeted those.

And because there still seems to be some misconceptions about the only demonstration that was ever promoted on this list: There were no broken windows or noticeable property damage during Friday’s demonstration. There was a brief scuffle with a few over-zealous individuals at the end of the march. Thankfully the police appeared to show reasonable restraint and tensions did not escalate. There were no arrests.


Quoted in whole from: bmvan@yahoogroups.com on behalf of Ron van der Eerden (obvious@look.ca)
Sent: February 16, 2010 11:12:15 PM

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