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In the Citizen. It does sound like mini-FTAA.
Sunday July 29, 2001
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Police outnumber demonstrators at Whistler protest; one woman pepper sprayed
A protester is arrested for obstruction by RCMP in Whistler Village, B.C., on
Saturday. (CP/Richard Lam)
WHISTLER, B.C. (CP) - In a scuffle where police outnumbered protesters, pepper
spray was used to subdue at least one demonstrator outside a conference centre
where government and business leaders were meeting Saturday afternoon. At least
ten people were arrested.
The scuffle occurred shortly after 100 police officers met up with the 80
protesters who arrived by bus at noon in the picturesque village. One woman was
pepper sprayed and then led away, by friends, from the scuffle outside the
conference centre where delegates to the Pacific Northwest Economic Region were
She did not need medical attention.
"There was some sort of altercation and the officer stepped in to intervene,"
said RCMP spokesman Cpl. Grant Learned.
"There was a quick dispersion of pepper spray to hold the crowd," he said.
Another protester was held down by four officers with his hands behind his back
and then led away by police. At least seven other people were detained by police
before the pepper spray incident, but Learned, could not confirm what had
"No justice. No peace," the rain-soaked group chanted as they made their way
from a parking lot towards the conference centre.
At first police were along the sides of the road where the protesters were
marching. But as demonstrators approached the conference centre, officers and
police dogs formed a line to prevent then from entering.
The crowd stayed in position, chanting, outside the meeting for about 45 minutes
and then decided to march away from the conference centre and block the main
road into the upper village, where residents and tourists were lunching.
Police then surrounded the crowd. That is when the scuffle occurred. In addition
the some being detained, some protesters were searched.
At one point during the march, some tourists - observing the protest from the
sidelines - started taking photos.
"This is our land," shouted a protester. "We are not a tourist attraction."
The police were expecting far more protesters. Not only were they present in
large numbers, but they had set aside a parking area across from the conference
centre for the protest.
"You couldn't have better access to it without walking in through the front
doors," said Learned, who felt the protest was peaceful overall.
"The organization said they were here for a peaceful protest and, with a few
examples, it went that way."
Protest organizer Garth Mullins said the protesters felt boxed in by the police.
"There's been a fair amount of chaos," he said.
"Most of the day, I've spent running around trying to make sure people are safe
and have access to legal advice, rather than focus on the main message."
The protesters believe the meeting of Canadian and U.S. business and government
leaders is setting itself to be a "little cousin of organizations like NAFTA or
the WTO," Mullins said earlier.
Inside the conference centre, representatives from B.C., Alberta and 13 western
U.S. states discussed differing legislative procedures in provincial and state
Delegates to the meeting have been particularly keen to discuss partnerships
between the energy-starved states and the Canadian provinces, rich in natural
gas and hydroelectric reserves.
During a speech at the conference earlier this week, B.C. Premier Gordon
Campbell said his government will work with the U.S. to find a solution to the
"Any time business and government get together to hold meetings in private, we'd
like other concerns to be there," said Mullins during the Saturday protest. "The
poor, aboriginals, labour, the environment." Police intended to give protesters
space to voice their opinions, while bearing in mind "the concern of having the
two groups too close to each other," said Learned.
© The Canadian Press, 2001
Peace to All
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