A Langara College student says she was shocked to be approached outside class by Olympic security officers and questioned about her friendship with a high-profile opponent of the 2010 Winter Games.
Danika Surm says she has nothing to do with the Olympic resistance movement, and her only connection is a friendship with protester and UBC professor Chris Shaw.
Surm said she was on her way to class at the south Vancouver campus last week when she was approached by two plainclothes police officers with the Integrated Security Unit, the force in charge of Olympic security.
She told them she had to write a biology quiz, so the officers said they would wait until she was done, she said.
When she came out of the classroom, the two officers questioned her about her friendship with Shaw, who teaches neuroscience at the University of British Columbia, and what she knew about his plans to protest against the Olympics in February.
'It shows the degree of paranoia that the police and the City of Vancouver are reaching about the Olympics'—Langara student Danika Surm
Surm said the intimidating tactics have made her consider taking part in anti-Olympic protests.
"I can tell you that this is actually probably going to do exactly what they didn't want, which is trigger me to be more interested in making sure we are able to express our feelings in public, in a safe, but you know, an open manner," Surm said.
She wants to know how the security officers tracked her down and knew her cellphone number and class schedule.
"I just think it shows the degree of paranoia that the police and the City of Vancouver are reaching about the Olympics, and also the breach in civil rights and privacy that is going on," she said.
Officers visit professor's ex-wife
Shaw himself isn't surprised Surm was approached. The same thing happened to his ex-wife last week, he said, even though the two haven't been married for 15 years.
"When they are starting to surveil and visit people who have really only a secondary connection, then they are dealing with the entire thing as if they are dealing with a criminal investigation," Shaw said Tuesday.
"If the [security unit] thinks they have a criminal investigation on their hands, they should come clear with this and let the public know. They should let me know."
The Integrated Security Unit has not yet been reached for comment.
Opponents of the Games have been complaining for months that they and their families, friends and employers are being harassed and intimidated by the security unit.
In June, a group called the Olympic Resistance Network sent a lawyer's letter demanding the unit end what the group calls abusive and unlawful conduct against members.