Just yesterday the cops paid attention, of sorts, to those folks and raided the offices of the Downtown Eastside Residents' Association (DERA).
In Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and other areas the process of gentrification has greatly intensified in anticipation of the 2010 Olympics. This has meant increased displacement, policing and incarceration – as well as the loss of life due to opportunistic illnesses, exposure and neglect. This has disproportionately impacted those concentrated in poor areas: Aboriginal people, new immigrants, seniors, people with disabilities, drug users – and creates especially vulnerable conditions for women and single mothers.
"The games have skewed all the priorities for the entire region," comments Burnaby Mayor Corrigan. "Everything's become devoted to this three-week party that's going to happen in 2010. It's like imagining that everything you do in your own life is all designed and built toward your next birthday."
A recent low budged documantary film focuses on these social costs, especially the steady loss of low-income housing in the neighbourhood adjacent to the primary Vancouver venue, GM Place. The film, Five Ring Circus, offers an insightful insider's view of the ongoing housing protests organized the by the Anti-Poverty Committee and affiliated groups. The film documents how outrage at Vancouver City Council's decision not to protect existing SRO housing stock -- in spite of promises to the contrary made during the Olympic bid -- boiled over into angry street protests.
According to its web site:
The Downtown Eastside Residents' Association (DERA) is a community-directed, charitable society formed in 1973 by residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
Located in the poorest urban neighbourhood in the nation, DERA has fought for 31 years to focus the attention of government, industry and the public on the key components of poverty and homelessness. We work hard for decent, secure, affordable housing, jobs, livable incomes, community and recreational facilities, park space, safer streets, and community-based neighbourhood planning.
DERA was formed as a reaction against the general attitude of indifference and neglect which many felt to the area, then known as "Skid Road". Skid Road was a powerful and destructive characterization that promoted a feeling of hopelessness.
The Anti-Poverty Committee is an organization of poor and working people, who fight for poor people, their rights and an end to poverty by any means necessary they have also been involved in the struggle.
These groups have been joined by The Native Youth Movement which is calling for a Boycott and Cancellation of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The Games are scheduled to take place on un-surrendered Native Land from February 12-27, 2010. NYM say the 2010 Olympics represent nothing less then, "...a continued history of colonization and Genocide."
The following is from Canada.com.
Vancouver police accused of political attack on social activists with raid
VANCOUVER — Police raided the office of the Downtown Eastside Residents Association in a bid to discredit social activists opposing the 2010 Winter Games, an association spokesman said Friday.
The association’s office was searched Thursday night by police looking for evidence in the theft of the Olympic flag from city hall.
Executive director Kim Kerr said the raid was “a political attack” on his group and the Anti-Poverty Committee, which is campaigning for more social housing.
He said both groups have made public statements they were not responsible for the flag theft, noting the Native Warriors Society has claimed responsibility.
Kerr said police raided the DERA offices in an attempt to undermine the work of the groups around the housing issue.
“Our main concern is that the theft gives police reason to intimidate protesters,” he said.
In a photo e-mailed to news outlets in early March, three people posing with what appears to be the flag said they stole it to honour a native elder who died after being jailed for a highway expansion protest.
Kerr said police arrived about 11 p.m. They didn’t take anything with them when they left.
“They’re (police) trying to point fingers everywhere they can,” said Jill Chettiar of the Anti-Poverty Committee.
She questioned the timing of the raid, three weeks after the flag was stolen.
The committee has said it will protest at the next Vancouver Olympic Games Organizing Committee board meeting in May if the meeting isn’t opened up to the public.
Chettiar said the raid won’t stop her group from pressing on with its protests.
The protesters say the money going towards the Olympics would be better spent to build social housing and ease poverty.
On March 12, anti-poverty activists and a native group chanted slogans and used noisemakers to drown out the speeches at an Olympic flag-lighting ceremony at city hall.
Earlier that day, an Olympic countdown clock was vandalized, despite having 24-hour security.
In February, a ceremony in downtown Vancouver to mark the three-year countdown to the start of the Games was disrupted by anti-poverty protesters who threw eggs and paint-filled balloons.
One person climbed on a stage and shouted obscenities.