I understand the history and complexities of the relationship between traditional activists and the police. And, I can in many cases, understand why these methods are important. If you are protecting a virgin forest from a fleet of chainsaws, a simple hug may not be the answer. However, this protest is different:
1.) The general public don’t understand the complexity of the G20, nor do they really care (as a result of not knowing – feedback loop of silence). They loved the Olympics- and had a very hard time understanding why anyone would protest them.
2.) This new issue is understandable by all – 99% of the population are under-represented in government compared to 1%. Once they understand us, I find it hard to believe that more than a handful of the 99% would be tolerant if the police used violence.
3.) Government employees and the police are most probably not happy with the future of their investments and pension fund(s). They are feeling the same pain, as are their families, as are all the 99%.
4.) For the G20 & Olympics, the world was watching Toronto & Vancouver- any negative incident would quickly affect the city’s population. Our event is not a focus of world attention- in fact, the same event is happening across the continent. So, there is less reason for the city to repress us- quite the opposite.
5.) Canada has treaties with other countries that require the government to protect foreign dignitaries from harm. To my knowledge, there will be no foreign dignitaries attending our event. (but you are welcome!)
6.) The city of Vancouver is spending enormous amounts of money on building a reputation as a Green, and Socially Conscious city. The local government understands that it would seriously damage this reputation if they were to start pepper spraying people at a non-violent protest.
7.) The people of Vancouver are still in-shock about the hockey riot. This event cast a shadow over city, a real buzz kill after the Olympics (we’ve only just started paying the bill for it!). It will only take one smashed window on the 15th and many will see us as a threat. Conversely, if we can show the world that the people of Vancouver have passion for an important issue, and that we led the most peaceful of all occupations- we can redeem our city’s reputation.
This protest is real, and if we communicate well with ALL of the 99%, our only deterrent to success will be ourselves.
(Posted on the Occupy Vancouver Facebook page on October 11)