Vancouver protesters dispersed by police
About 60 black clad demonstrators started a bon fire in the middle of a busy intersection on Commercial Drive on Tuesday night, but quickly dispersed without any arrests after the police riot squad moved in.
Many of the protesters appeared to have been part of a more orderly May Day rally organized by labour unions and supporters of the Occupy movement outside the Vancouver Art Gallery earlier in the day.
After the rally some of the protesters marched peacefully through the downtown core to the Woodwards building before ending up on Commercial Drive later in the evening.
There were similar peaceful protests and marches across in cities across Canada, including Ottawa, to mark May Day on Tuesday.
But those peaceful protests were in marked contrast to a more disorderly demonstration linked to the Occupy movement that erupted in Montreal where 100 people were arrested after a riot erupted at the May Day march.
Similar scenes played out at Occupy protests in Portland, Ore., Oakland, Calif and Seattle, Wash., where hooded protesters started fires and vandalized stores and cars on Tuesday afternoon.
One B.C. family on vacation was caught up in the mayhem in Seattle when they inadvertently drove into the area of Pike Street and 6th Avenue. The family took refuge in a building while they watched as protestors smashed their car windows.
"This gives me a real nice impression of the States, doesn't it? And then to have other people taking pictures and telling me to 'Go back to Canada you hoser,'" said the man, who identified himself only as Sam.
Police quickly moved in to corral the Seattle protesters, leading to several arrests.
B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair denounced the violence, saying it has no place in a campaign to improve the lives of working people.
"If you have violence, it really does take away from the cause in my opinion. What is lost then is your message," said Sinclair.
"It's a very small group of people who decide their particular form of protest is more important than everyone else's. And they can highjack the event by having a violent episode and it doesn't contribute to our cause in my opinion."
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Protester Ellis Worthington, who was wearing the signature Guy Fawkes mask of the Occupy movement, said he was also stunned to hear about the violence in Seattle.
"Use the power of your word, not the power of your fists. The pen is mightier than the sword. So we should protest peacefully."
But some Occupy supporters in Vancouver said that some parts of the Occupy movement’s message still resonate.
"The fact that the one per cent have still not been prosecuted, people still don't like that," said Reid Hart. "They will come back when Occupy resurges."
The movement’s slogans and rhetoric repeatedly singled out the one per cent of the population that allegedly control wealth and political power.
B.C. minimum wage rose to $10.25 Tuesday, but Gene McGuckin, a retired mill worker who attended the Vancouver protest, isn't sure it will make much of a difference.
"It won't change the number of people who are laid off, or who have their jobs disappear," McGuckin said.