By Carlito Pablo
Except for the supposed neo-Nazis, practically everyone turned up today (March 21) at the Braid SkyTrain station.
Among the crowd was the Vancouver chapter of the Anti-Racist Action, a group that includes skinheads, leather-clad youth, and individuals with spiked and brightly coloured hair.
Activists of various types–from labour organizers to avowed communists, gays, migrant-rights advocates, and the now familiar hooded and masked protesters who were likely at the February 13 anti-Olympic riot–also showed up.
Even a choir appeared. Lingling Claver, a member of the Solidarity Notes Labour Choir, noted to the Georgia Straight that one song the group rendered was a version of the "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika", a popular protest song during the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.
Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart also came.
“I’m here because I received an e-mail that really offended me,” Stewart told the Straight. “It was an e-mail that suggested that there were some people who are going to be challenging the diversity that we have in our community. I knew that some folks were coming out here to protest that perspective, and I wanted to join them.”
There were cops from at least three law-enforcement organizations–the New Westminster police department, RCMP, and transit police.
The rally, which drew about 200 people, began and ended with no major incident. There was a minor altercation involving two young passersby and eventually, a cameraman with Global TV.
According to rally participant Maryana Payette, two men shoved their way through the demonstration after disembarking from the bus and were on their way to the SkyTrain platform.
One of the men allegedly spat on a banner and was shouted at. When the same fellow was at the SkyTrain station, according to Payette, “He was still like yelling things and then the guy said, ‘Well, I may not even be a racist but I hate gay people.’ ”
A number of rally participants came up the escalator to confront the two men, and so followed the police, as well as the Global TV cameraman and other media representatives.
Activists repeatedly asked the Global TV videographer whether he would use a clip that supposedly caught one of the men saying he hates gays. The cameraman insisted that his equipment wasn’t on when the supposed comment was made.
Maitland Cassia of the Anti-Racist Action sported a newly shaved head at the rally, and he maintained that based on a now pulled-down Facebook event, 48 individuals declared they were going to attend a demonstration by the group Advocates for White Civil Rights.
“And if our presence forced them to cancel that, I consider that a victory for multiculturalism in Vancouver,” Cassia told the Straight.Well done ladies and gentlemen. And thank you Mayor Stewart for your support.
Pictures found here.