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Protesters turn violent in downtown Vancouver

Protesters walk the streets of downtown Vancouver, Canada, as heavily-fortified police keep a watchful eye on Saturday, February 13, 2010. The activists are demonstrating against the Winter Olympics, arguing the resources would be better spent elsewhere. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
Protesters walk the streets of downtown Vancouver, Canada, as heavily-fortified police keep a watchful eye on Saturday, February 13, 2010. The activists are demonstrating against the Winter Olympics, arguing the resources would be better spent elsewhere. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/MCT) MCT

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A group of about 200 protesters clashed with police at a busy downtown intersection Saturday morning as competition got under way at the 2010 Winter Olympics. The group, calling itself the Olympic Resistance Network, smashed windows with newspaper boxes, overturned mailboxes and spray-painted buses and cars.

The group's press release said it was protesting capitalism and the cost of the Vancouver Games.

There were a handful of arrests, according to officials.

After Friday's Opening Ceremonies, there were some minor skirmishes between police and protesters. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell criticized the protesters for not making their statement in a peaceful manner.

"I'm really disappointed there was violence and disrespect shown by protesters. I think all in Vancouver expect there will be peaceful protests and a few individuals crossed that line," Robertson said.

"I'm very proud of the Vancouver Police Department's performance. They handled the situation very well."

Said Campbell: "The protesters are trying to attract attention to themselves. The protesters are trying to frighten people. Now is a time for celebration. Now is a time to try and lift Canada up. And frankly, I think the protesters are self-centered and selfish and in many cases cowardly."

Kaufman writes for the Miami Herald

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