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Legal Observers in Victoria

The trial run of the Legal Observer Program went off without a hitch on Friday as the Olympic torch arrived in Canada. A team of Observers from Vancouver headed across to Victoria, ready to keep an eye on the torch relay and to train up a few more Legal Observers while they were there.

Here are a few photos of and thoughts on the day:

Photo: The Blackbird

The newly trained Legal Observers jumped right into action, capturing photos of police interacting with protesters. Photo: The Blackbird

There was a very heavy police presence, including rooftop surveillance. Photo: The Blackbird

The interactions between police and protesters went quite smoothly, aside from a few scuffles. Observers reported concerns that some police did not have identification on their uniform. These officers did identify themselves when asked, but identification badges would increase the transparency and accountability of security forces. We hope this is addressed in the future.

There was also some concern that the number of police present was overkill. In some cases, the police outnumbered everyone else. This can lead to clashes if frustrated protesters run into bored police.

Police were everywhere on torch day. Photo: The Blackbird

On the other side, there were some reports of protesters throwing marbles at mounted police, creating hazardous situations for the horses and officers. If it is true, this is completely unacceptable. However, our Observer teams saw nothing of the sort, so we hope it was an isolated incident or an inaccurate report.

Mounted police in Victoria for the torch run. Photo: The Blackbird

In summary: A good start for everyone—protesters were heard, police were professional, and Observers were there to document the whole thing. Let’s hope the trend continues in February!

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