Black Bloc Riot at the 2010 Olympic Games Damages Hudson Bay Company Store in Vancouver's City Centre

Photo by Megan Stewart of "Black Bloc" vandalism of Hudson Bay Company store during Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games

The Vancouver Police and Integrated Security Unit officers battled with a group that inflitrated a peaceful march of 200 on Georgia Street today. The protest went awry when masked participants began smashing windows, spray painting vehicles, and spitting at police. The protest turned violent at Georgia and Granville. 

 At a press briefing after the riot had been dispersed, Constable Jana McGuinness of the Vancouver Police Department said the protesters were anarchists "who dress all in black and employ a tactic called Black Bloc." Today's group "included a loosely organized group of thugs from central Canada known to attach themselves to any cause, travel to any event that attracts media coverage and promote anarchy wherever they go."  Constable McGuinness said those arrested were not local and she did not know what their message was or what they had hoped to achieve.

They are "a criminal element apparently willing to wield anything that might cause damage or injury," she said,and they "marched among about 200 legitimate protestors this morning beginning at 8:30 a.m. They walked down Georgia Street breaking windows, turning over news boxes and clashing with police." McGuiness said the "Black Bloc" group were also responsible for disruptions during last night's otherwise peaceful protest.  This has not been confirmed yet with other sources.

The goals of those employing "Black Bloc" techniques can perhaps be found in the account Wikipedia gives of it.  "Black Bloc" is described as an anti-police tactic first employed in Germany in 1980 to protest against police power aimed at anti-nuclear power protesters and squatters.

"In 1986 Hamburg squatters mobilized following attacks on Hafenstrasse. A demonstration of 10,000 took to the streets surrounding at least 1,500 people in a black bloc. They carried a large banner saying "Build Revolutionary Dual Power!" At the end of the march, the black bloc then engaged in street fighting that forced the police to retreat. The next day 13 department stores in Hamburg were set alight causing nearly $10 million in damage. Later that year, following the Chernobyl disaster, militant anti-nuclear activists used the tactic, prompting the comment "In scenes resembling 'civil war' helmeted, leather-clad troops of the anarchist Autonomen armed with slingshots, Molotov cocktails and flare guns clashed brutally with the police, who employed water cannons, helicopters and CS gas (which has since been officially banned for use against civilians)," the Wikipedia entry on Black Bloc reads.

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