Controversy has not only marred the 2010 Winter Olympics because of the tragic death of 21 year old luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, but also with 200 masked protesters who smashed windows of department stores and splattered red paint across Olympic venues in Vancouver.
Police said the group marched through the shopping district, vandalizing cars and stores. Protesters also threw metal boxes on display windows of Hudson’s Bay Company, where Olympic souvenirs are sold.
Vancouver has been facing problems ever since the run-up started to the games. Lack of actual snow, hundreds of millions in losses as NBC expected to take broadcasting the games, and now the luger death spelling riots.
Vancouverians have been upset about the way the Olympic games have been handled by the government. The Olympic projects have come in well over budget.
Some feel that the money would have been better spent going to social services, particularly as the city grapples with the effects of the recession.
But now, the protests are beginning to turn violent.
Despite the violence, various activist groups have been leading largely peaceful protests since it was announced that the Games were to held in Vancouver in 2003. Many of these protesters have used viral video to effectively get their message across to a wider audience.
While most of the grievances by anti-Olympics protesters stem from the growing presence of corporate corruption in the Games, the largest resistance has come from indigenous groups in Western Canada, who claim their “stolen land” is being used by the government “for the benefit of corporations, including mining, logging, oil & gas, and ski resorts.” In addition, some activists say that Indigenous peoples suffering social ills caused by the Olympics, such as higher rates of poverty, unemployment, environmental degradation, police violence, disease, suicides and violence against women.
Many grassroots activists have been flooding the Internet with videos about their complaints. Many of which are low-budget, but effective in telling their side of the story, like this one and this one. While the Olympic Games will go on in Vancouver and Games officials are not giving in to the complaints, anti-Olympic digital activism has allowed a point of view that would otherwise not get covered in the mainstream media.