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We Fight, they Lie: Learning and Building a Global Movement against 2010 Olympics

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Protestors drumming outside the Mississauga Cooksville GO stationToronto - On Thanksgiving Monday, Oct. 13 2008, 30 protesters boarded buses from Toronto's downtown Union Station to head to Cooksville Station in Mississauga. Moments before boarding, Peel Police arrived to serve activists in solidarity with calls for indigenous sovereignty a letter threatening them with arrest where they to try and disrupt the Spirit Train proceedings.

The previous evening, autonomous actions had successfully blocked the CP Railway Lines for a few hours, causing millions of dollars in economic disruption, and putting the issues of stolen land, ecological destruction, and exploitation of the poor and migrant workers firmly at the forefront.

Mississauga was the Spirit Train's eighth stop, having met with resistance at every station it took its party of shame. The Toronto activists were met with supporters from the suburbs and across southern Ontario. Banners were unfurled and the Anti-2010 flag hoisted as over 50 organizers chanted, banged pots and pans and blew whistles. Flyers detailing the corporate and racist mandate of the Olympics were distributed to visitors flocking to the only free entertainment in the services-deprived suburb.

Members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, the Women's Coordinating Committee of Chile Canada and No One Is Illegal – Toronto did a teach in and updates were provided from the previous evening's actions.

"The Olympics are taking place on unceded Indigenous Land, they are displacing the urban poor, destroying miles of old-growth forests and exploiting migrant workers", one organizer explained.

Heavy-handed policing led to a few scuffles as organizers were barred from entering the station while "non-threatening" visitors were allowed in. Most mainstream media was on site and covered the protest.

The CP, Police and VANOC spin doctoring was out in full force. Three times empty ambulances and paramedic vans were driven through the protestors and media instructed to document "crazy" activists putting people's lives in danger. CP Organizers were seen encouraging instructing visitors to throw away the flyers calling them "lies and propaganda". CP Public Relations set up media interviews with differently-abled and indigenous performers and athletes only and were heard telling media that the protestors were "only anti-poverty activists" and not really "native". These comments can be seen in most of the corporate media coverage. "This isn't public space", activists were told. "You either love the Olympics or get out".

There is an effort to fragment the resistance against the Vancouver Olympics that needs to be strategized around. With over a year away from the actual games, possibilities to organize very large coalitions engaging in mass economic disruption and in creative resistance are tremendous.Flag flying at Spirit Train Protest The resistance to the Olympics is not a one-issue discussion. Different polities can be mobilized around issues of apartheid and occupation of indigenous land; violence against women; trade union and workers rights around Olympics construction; ecological warfare and racism; harassment of poor and working class people; issues of taxation and government subsidizing of corporate profit; and issues of immigrant and non-status peoples rights.

Many of us are organizers in these communities. By raising these separate but parallel issues, we can ensure that the opposition to the Olympics and support for Indigenous Sovereignty is broad based, public and immense. Communal teach-ins taking place need to be accelerated in earnest. The mainstream media will attempt to fragment our movements, VANOC will encourage it and we can and must resist it.

A global public shaming of Canada's mythology as a peaceful, safe and 'diverse' state is possible. We need to work to spread our message to sisters and brothers in the resistance worldwide, ask for solidarity actions and encourage transnational discussion. We can analyze part of the public sentiment by looking at the comments section on any of the mainstream news coverage of Spirit Train protests and work to create materials and knowledge that challenge these misconceptions.

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