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Protesters call for Dick Cheney arrest

Photos and text by Joshua Hergesheimer

Protesters attempted to block the front doors of the Vancouver Club earlier this evening, in an effort to prevent people from attending a book club-sponsored presentation by former U.S. government official Dick Cheney. Attendees -- each of whom had paid $500 to hear Cheney speak -- had to be escorted by police through lines of protesters who had formed a human chain across the front door.

During the Bush administration, Cheney sparked controversy over his support for harsh interrogation methods used on detainees captured from Afghanistan and Iraq. He has justified his belief that waterboarding (a technique that involves 'simulated drowning') "saved countless American lives." This admission has prompted some Canadian Members of Parliment, such as Don Davis, to demand that the Canadian government arrest Cheney and charge him with war crimes.

There were about 100 protesters, some with handmade signs that still sported plastic bag covers (the rain earlier that day had been torrential). People banged pots and pans and chanted, "Torture is never right" and "arrest Dick Cheney!"

The crowd was vocal, but non-violent. About 20 or so protesters attempted to form a human chain to block the entrance to the club, the rationale being that if they couldn't stop Cheney from speaking, they might be able to stop some of the attendees from entering the building.

Attendees who arrived seemed perturbed at having to be 'escorted' through lines of shouting protesters. On several occasions police physically shoved protesters out of the way to create an opening that could allow attendees to get through. Shouts of "boo!" and "shame!" greeted each new arrival as they were guided through by police. 

Most of the attendees wore expensive suits, a stark contrast to the hoodies and Gore-Tex wearing crowd massed in front of the Vancouver Club. Across the street, camera crews readied themselves in anticipation of any sort of confrontation. 

I saw one well-dressed couple get out of a limousine more than block away, possibly in hopes of avoiding the crowd. The woman wore a long red dress and carried a high-end handbag. I wondered how she would fare wading through the masses of protesters.

Moments later, I lost track of them as I moved to the other side of the crowd, just in time to receive a massive push from police as they cleared a path for several older men in suits who were trying to enter the building.

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