SOLDIERS of Odin disrupted the annual International Day Against Racism and Bigotry March, held on Saturday, March 24 at Thornton Park in Vancouver again this year. And again, like last year, the Vancouver Police Department didn’t stop them. “Nobody was arrested again which upset us,” said Ana David, one of the organizers from the Coalition Against Bigotry – Pacific.
“There were at least 14 members of the Soldiers of Odin and several individual antagonists present but they were stymied by the solidarity and cohesion of the participants from infiltrating, intimidating or attacking the rally,” said Robert Ages from the Peace Bearers who were coordinating the security and safety of the rally.
The Peace Bearers organized a circle of safety around the rally to protect the crowd and the speakers. The strategy worked. It kept the Soliders of Odin out. But they shouted and try to intimidate the crowd of about 300 people and carried a big Canadian flag like they did last year. But police just watched and did not arrest anyone. The Peace Bearers told the organizer it was too risky to march. So, the march was not held and the rally stayed put at Thornton Park until 3 p.m. with speeches, chants and slogans.
According to Imtiaz Popat, organizer from the Coalition Against Bigotry – Pacific, Vancouver Police allowed the Soldiers of Odin to attack last year’s march. They were finally restrained and handcuffed, but were then released just as the rally was wrapping up allowing them to harass the protestors as they were leaving the march. Again this year, police didn’t arrest them, leaving the rally attendees vulnerable, according to the organizers.
The rally was a coming together in a united effort in Vancouver to fight all forms of racism, bigotry and oppression with the recent growth of white supremacist and ultrarational groups in Metro Vancouver. The White Supremacist hate propaganda has not only been racist, but also sexist, hetrosexist, transexist, ableist and classist. We have seen public Islamophobic attacks, hate graffiti at schools and universities, Neo Nazi propaganda at Joyce SkyTrain station and homophobic hate propaganda at last year’s AIDS Walk, according to the organizers.