Protesters march against Olympics


VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Burning torches and the Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man?" Or playful-but-pointed placards and community choirs? No one is sure what to expect when anti-Olympic protesters march toward the 2010 opening ceremonies on Friday.

That includes whether their late-afternoon journey through downtown Vancouver ends at peaceful protest or in tear gas and mass arrests.

"Our main goal is to be the voice of opposition, to disrupt the Games with a message of resistance and the true social impacts," said Anna Hunter, an organizer with the Olympic Resistance Network, a consortium of groups behind a "Take Back Our City" march planned for Friday. The protesters are railing against everything from the cost of the Olympics to tight security. "The ORN believes in a diversity of tactics and strategies."

That's largely been the case so far. In January, protesters lit torches and set Rolling Stones music blaring as demonstrators, some with faces covered by bandanas, marched through Vancouver. Last week it was a makeshift marching band, anti-Games chants and Olympic-mocking mascots like "Itchy the Bedbug."

Most anticipate a similarly broad mix when a crowd expected to exceed 1,000 gathers at the Vancouver Art Gallery at 3 p.m. on Friday. The question is what happens as that crowd makes the eight-block march toward the opening ceremony three hours late -- and reach a point where security fences prevent them from going further.