British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
February 16, 2010
For immediate release
BC Civil Liberties Calls on Canadian Border Services to Explain their “Inland” Patrols
ATTENTION EDITORS: The previously announced daily press briefings at 8:00 a.m. at 1188 West Georgia are cancelled. Press briefings will be announced by media advisory.
The BCCLA is calling on the Canadian Border Services Agency to explain the presence of “inland” patrols in downtown Vancouver which are increasingly being noted by the BCCLA Legal Observers.
Legal Observers attended at yesterday’s major demonstrations which proceeded peacefully: an anti-war demonstration that took place at the Vancouver Art Gallery Monday evening and an anti-houseless demonstration took place at noon. The housing demonstration culminated in a “tent village” that is situated in a vacant lot in the 100 block of West Hastings Street. While all went well at these events, the Legal Observers are noting policing changes.
Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, BCCLA: “We are sensing a shift in the policing culture of the public demonstrations, in particular we are noting the presence of Canadian Border Services Agents patrolling public space. We are unclear on their authority and mandate and ask the CBSA to clarify for the public what they are doing patrolling our downtown streets.”
The Legal Observers have also seen Corrections Officers present at demonstrations and will be seeking clarification on this as well.
Vonn: “We are seeing an edgier tone to the policing of the demonstrations with increased incidents of our Legal Observers being pointedly photographed and addressed by name by police officers who are apparently interested in letting our volunteer citizen observers know that the police have gone to some effort to identify them.”
Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, BCCLA, 778-829-3471
David Eby, Executive Director, BCCLA, 778-865-7997
British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
February 13, 2010
ATTENTION EDITORS: The previously announced Sunday, February 14 press conference at the BCCLA has been cancelled. The next briefing is scheduled for Monday, February 15, 2010 at 8:00 a.m. at 1188 West Georgia Street.
BCCLA pleased with policing at Opening Ceremonies demonstration, Observers record few issues
Vancouver, B.C. – A full contingent of Legal Observer teams monitored the policing of the demonstrations at the Olympics Opening Ceremonies. The large demonstrations that started at the Vancouver Art Gallery were notably peaceful. Restrained policing and protest marked the procession of the march to BC Place Stadium. Very few incidents involving police were observed, with the exception of a police barricade push-back that was unannounced and the fact that the majority of RCMP officers attending were not wearing legible badge numbers or names for accountability purposes.
“We were very pleased with the effective and restrained policing of the demonstrations that we observed prior to and during the Opening Ceremonies,” said BCCLA Policy Director Micheal Vonn. “We know that the Legal Observers contributed significantly to the success of these demonstrations. We were thanked by many people attending and were told by some that our presence gave them the confidence that the events would be safe and their rights respected.”
The Legal Observers were asked by event organizers not to attend the “Heart Attack” demonstration on Saturday, February 13. Several arrests were reported by media to have taken place at this event. Event organizers did call on the Legal Observers during the event. Although our Observers attended as quickly as possible, the crowd was largely dispersed by the time we arrived. Aside from witnessing and documenting police in full riot gear and with an array of armaments, we have no reports from this event and little footage to share.
Our Observers will be participating in the Murdered and Missing Women Memorial March tomorrow (Sunday) and preparing for the homeless tent city protest (Monday) as well as sharing video highlights from the Opening Ceremonies demonstration and several smaller events, on Monday, February 15, 2010. All 8 a.m. press conferences are held at 1188 West Georgia.
As always, BCCLA staff and board members are available for comment on civil liberties issues, including as they relate to the Olympics.
Micheal Vonn, BCCLA Policy Director: 604-630-9753
FOR MORE DETAILS: firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-630-9755
One of the potential issues Legal Observers (or anyone else with a camera) will face when observing is a security guard, VANOC volunteer, police officer, or other Overzealous Olympic Official (OOO) insisting that a particular area or event is out of bounds to photographers. Here’s what to do:
- Follow directions, no matter how ridiculous, illegal or crazy they may seem.
- Ask for clarification and explanations—who the person is, what authority they have to give these orders, why no photos, and so on.
- Keep the camera rolling.
- Report incidents to your Observer Team Leader or the Legal Observer hotline.
Unfortunately, we already have a great example from Stephen Hui at the Georgia Straight that shows exactly how this sort of demand to “stop filming” should be handled.
Here’s the video:
In addition to the VPD and RCMP officers making themselves visible around Olympic venues and around the city, there are police from every other province adding to the ranks.
We’ve snapped a few photos of the various badges we’ve noticed around town, but we know we haven’t got all of them yet. If you have any you’d like to add to the gallery, let us know! Add it to our Flickr Pool or email it to email@example.com.
We decided to take one of the Legal Observer cameras down to Canada Place this afternoon. Security operations are gearing up, and the police presence is incredibly high. We uploaded a few still images from the videos we shot to our new Flickr account, 2010observers. A few samples are available below:
The BCCLA has signed on to the Vancouver Statement of Surveillance, Security and Privacy Researchers about the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games:
The BCCLA is endorsing the statement of Canadian and international researchers who study “mega-event” security. Surveillance and privacy experts have called on Canada to “moderate the escalation of security measures for Vancouver 2010” and to be as transparent as possible about security and surveillance practices. The statement also calls for an independent and public audit of Olympic security and surveillance measures post-Games and to have full and open public discussions about proposed “legacies” such as public video surveillance.
The full text of the Vancouver Statement is below:
As researchers from Canada and the wider world, who are conducting research on the global security dynamics of mega-events, we agree:
- that the Olympic Games should be a celebration of human achievement, friendship and trust between people and nations.
However, having analyzed past and planned Olympics and other mega events, from a variety of historical and international perspectives, we recognize:
- that recent Games have increasingly taken place in and contributed to a climate of fear, heightened security and surveillance; and
- that this has often been to the detriment of democracy, transparency and human rights, with serious implications for international, national and local norms and laws.
Therefore, we ask the City of Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada:
- to moderate the escalation of security measures for Vancouver 2010 and to strive to respect the true spirit of the event;
- to be as open as possible about the necessary security and surveillance practices and rationales to withdraw temporary bylaws that restrict Charter rights of freedom of speech and assembly;
- to work constructively with the Provincial and Federal Privacy Commissioners;
- to respect the rights of all individuals and groups, whether they be local people or visitors, and pay particular attention to the impacts on vulnerable people;
- to conduct a full, independent public assessment of the security and surveillance measures, once the Games are over, addressing their costs (financial and otherwise), their effectiveness, and lessons to be learned for future mega-events;
- not to assume a permanent legacy of increased video surveillance and hardened security measures in the Vancouver/Whistler area, and to have full and open public discussion on any such proposed legacy.
We hope that these recommendations will contribute to a unique and positive Olympic legacy by which Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada will be remembered for setting the highest ethical standards.
November 23, 2009