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Anti-Olympic Protesters Use Internet to Get Message out

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo [Readers might also want to see my column A Libertarian View of the Olympics:
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 8, 2010
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      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

      [Readers might also want to see my column "A Libertarian View of the
      Olympics: http://www.nolanchart.com/article4536.html --DC]

      http://tinyurl.com/yay47g2
      Anti-Olympic protesters use Internet to get message out
      Lawyer releases Olympic edition of Protesters’ Guide to Civil Disobedience
      by Christopher Guly
      February 12 2010 issue

      As athletes from around the world hope to set records at the Winter
      Olympics in Vancouver, protesters could set their own.

      Those opposed to both the Games taking place on what the Olympic
      Resistance Network calls 'unceded Indigenous land' and 'the range of
      social injustices perpetrated' by them, are expected to rely on
      cyberspace in a big way to get their message across.

      'There will be the most Internet-related activity ever — light years
      ahead of anything we’ve ever seen in terms of civil disobedience,' says
      Leo McGrady, a veteran litigation lawyer, who runs the boutique
      litigation firm McGrady & Company, in Vancouver.

      'People will be tweeting, and using YouTube and Facebook extensively.'

      To help ensure people exercise their democratic right to disagree
      without breaking any laws, McGrady — with the assistance of one former
      and two current lawyers in his firm — has released an Olympic Edition of
      his Protesters’ Guide to the Law of Civil Disobedience in British Columbia.

      The first edition was a three-page tip sheet written in the late 1960s,
      when as a newly minted lawyer McGrady — now 66 years old — witnessed a
      fellow lawyer and friend arrested 'unnecessarily' at an anti-Vietnam War
      demonstration after he took offence that police were redirecting protesters.

      Several versions of the guide followed, including one released in 2002
      that responded to anti-strike legislation introduced by B.C.’s
      provincial Liberal government. Some 220,000 copies of that edition were
      printed and distributed, according to McGrady.

      The latest Protesters’ Guide for the Olympics covers 43 pages — or about
      double the length of the 2002 edition — with new sections addressing
      provincial and municipal legislation designed to protect the Olympics
      and its sponsors.

      The guide features information on the rights and responsibilities of
      protesters, including a section that provides advice on participating in
      demonstrations ('Photo and video documentation may keep the police in
      line, or may prove useful evidence in cases where the police step out of
      line.')

      One of the most dramatic illustrations of that occurred in August 2007
      when more than 200 angry protesters (including many trade unionists)
      approached a steel fence guarded by nearly as many police at the North
      American Security and Prosperity Partnership meeting between Stephen
      Harper, George W. Bush and Mexico’s Felipe Calderón in Montebello, Que.

      Among the demonstrators was Dave Coles, president of the Communication,
      Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (and a current client of
      McGrady’s on an unrelated issue), who recognized that three of the
      masked protesters armed with rocks and trying to incite violence were
      police officers.

      The confrontation was captured on video posted on YouTube, showing a
      group of young men — also wearing black bandanas — shouting 'Policier,
      policier!'

      It was later revealed the masked trio were members of the Sûreté du
      Québec and since then, they have been summoned to appear before Quebec’s
      Independent Police Ethics Committee.

      One of those YouTube postings of the agent provocateurs has been viewed
      more than 496,000 times — and that medium could be an effective tool
      during the current anti-Olympics protests to not only record police
      misconduct but to also deter officers from embarking on any 'excesses'
      of their authority, says McGrady.

      He believes the Internet will also be used to mobilize demonstrators.

      The Vancouver-based Olympic Resistance Network — one of about 40
      organizations supporting a 'Take Back Our City' rally that coincides
      with the opening ceremonies — has a comprehensive website
      (http://olympicresistance.net ) listing protest-related events as part
      of its 'global anti-capitalist and anti-colonial convergence' against
      the 2010 Winter Games, which it calls a 'two-week circus.' (The site
      also has a Know Your Rights section for protesters.)

      Its primary purpose, and those of other like-minded websites, is to
      'mobilize — to motivate people to come out and also to help organize
      once they’ve made the decision to come out' for anti-Olympic
      demonstrations, says McGrady.

      He also expects that the Net — through instant messaging and Twitter —
      will be used in organizing 'flash mobs' — large groups of people who
      suddenly assemble in a public place, perform an unusual action for a
      brief period of time and then quickly disperse (such as Worldwide Pillow
      Fight Day on March 22, 2008, which attracted more than 5,000
      participants in New York City alone, according to Wikipedia).

      'Flash mobs are usually used for a social purpose to create an event at
      a particular location, but the tactic can be adapted for civil
      disobedience purposes as a protest. You coordinate the event in advance
      and then remotely move large groups of people very quickly,' explains
      McGrady.

      He adds that electronic communication will also be a way to instantly
      notify protesters of the location of either police or barricades, and
      inform them that a demonstration — or flash mob — will be staged elsewhere.

      But he warns that anti-Olympic protesters have to be cautious if they
      decide to engage in acts of online civil disobedience and possibly face
      charges of mischief.

      (One website, No2010.com, which allegedly defended property vandalism
      and advocated arson attacks, according to newspaper reports, has been
      suspended due to a 'technical or billing problem.')

      In the Protesters’ Guide, McGrady cites one of the most popular acts of
      e-civil disobedience dating back to the 1990s that used FloodNet (a Java
      applet that can be used to create a denial-of-service attack by having
      thousands of browsers automatically reload a targeted website several
      times a minute) to organize a mass and disruptive virtual sit-in against
      the Mexican government in support of the Zapatista uprising in the
      southern state of Chiapas. Meanwhile, in 1998, a group of hacktivists
      defaced the Mexican Finance Ministry website and posted pictures of the
      rebels’ revolutionary namesake, Emiliano Zapata.

      Similar cyber-attacks on a Canadian government website or on
      Vancouver2010.com could lead to prosecution. But it could be very
      difficult, if not impossible, to find the perpetrators, acknowledges
      McGrady, who, however, says that forensic technology is being developed
      to make such identifications.

      In addition to the offence of mischief, the Protesters’ Guide states
      that e-civil disobedience can also involve violation of copyright and
      trade-mark laws, with civil rather than criminal consequences.

      For instance, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), which owns the mark
      'Road to Vancouver,' is currently suing CBC for using the expression
      'Road to the Games,' and has reportedly accused the public broadcaster
      of trying to 'mislead viewers into believing' CBC is affiliated with the
      2010 Winter Olympics. (CTV owns the broadcasting rights.)

      But the federal government's Bill C-47, the Olympic and Paralympic Marks
      Act, passed in 2007 to protect against misleading associations between
      businesses and the Games and certain committees associated with them,
      exempts criticims or parody in using one of an extensive list of words,
      including 'Faster, Higher, Stronger,' 'Spirit in Motion,' 'Games City'
      and 'Sea to Sky Games.' Bloggers, or anyone posting comments on websites
      during the Olympics, are thus protected.

      'The reason is that many of the demonstrators simply don’t have
      sufficient assets to justify any lawsuit,' he explains. 'Oftentimes, we
      don’t know who they are.'

      Anyone contemplating launching a libel suit only needs to look at the
      outcome of the so-called McLibel case in England (McDonald's v. Morris &
      Steel). While the High Court of Justice (Queen's Bench Division) awarded
      the company and its British subsidiary damages of £60,000 in 1997, the
      two defendants — Greenpeace activists with limited income, who made
      several allegations against McDonald's (that the company was complicit
      in Third World starvation, that it expoits workers and bans unions and
      is responsible for the cruel slaughter of the animals used in its food)
      — couldn't afford to pay the amount cited in the judgment.

      (On appeal, the damages were reduced to £20,000 in 1999. In 2005, the
      European Court of Human Rights awarded Helen Steel and David Morris
      £57,000 in compensation from the U.K. government after the court ruled
      the original trial breached both their right to a fair trial and freedom
      of expression.)

      In light of that long legal battle, companies don’t tend to sue
      demonstrators for libel, says McGrady.

      The Olympic Edition of the Protesters’ Guide can be downloaded under the
      publications section of the Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada website at
      http://www.lrwc.org .

      --
      Dan Clore

      New book: _Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon_:
      http://tinyurl.com/yd3bxkw
      My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0035LTS0O
      Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
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      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

      Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
      in charge on this island?
      Professor: Why, no one.
      Skipper: No one?
      Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
      -- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"
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