Tag Archives: Feb. 26

The Short Lived Occupation of an Empty Department Store

I got a call from a friend after work. He told me to grab my camera and audio gear and meet him down at the Olympic Village. He told me that something big might happen.

Earlier that day, social housing demonstrators and homelessness protesters tried to set up a tent city in the Village square and then on a patch of green space just outside of the development. Both attempts to set up camp were shut down by the Vancouver Police Department.

But protests were not over, demonstrators had one last push.

As the bitter cold snow started to come down even harder, a small group of protesters managed to sneak into the empty department store at the base of one of the Olympic Village towers.

The night was coming fast and the temperature dropped with a stiff breeze blowing off the water. The VPD, bundled up winter wear, were surrounded the entrances to the department store.

Shopping carts and protest signs littered the narrow streets. Chants and drum beats ricocheted off the glass buildings and echoed across the Olympic Village.

The deafening cling-clangs of a rusted drum-barrel relayed protester support to those trapped within the hollow store.

A policeman with a video camera wandered throughout the Village’s streets documenting the actions of the people involved in the protest.

Protesters peered through windows to catch a peek of the arrests happening inside the empty building. Screams of “he’s touching her,” were heard as numerous people observed what was happening beyond the pane of glass.

After seeing a VPD paddy-wagon, demonstrators made their way to one of two gates that closed off an entrance to the department store’s loading bay.

More protesters surround the loading bay gate. Some of the activists shook the gate and shouted demands for their comrades to be released.

The sounds of a sad song wisped with the wind. A protester sat along side a bundle of bags and shopping carts playing an accordion. Considering the time and place, the music was fitting and reminiscent of forgotten revolutions.

Back in front of the gates, the police enforced their presence in the area. The VPD pushed protesters back to ensure some space to allow the paddy-wagon to leave the area.

After hours of standing in the freezing cold, demonstrators watched as the VPD drove away from the loading bay. And just like that, the day long protests at the Village was over.