The City Walks – In the Shadow of Mega-Events: Protests, Policing and the Military in Victoria

You are invited to participate in a discussion based walking tour on the policing of mega-events and police-military connections in Victoria. In partnership with The City Talks, this walk will take up some of the themes in Adam Molnar’s lecture, In the Shadow of the Spectacle: Security Legacies in the Olympic City, and apply them to sites in Victoria.

Here are the details:

Meet: Centennial Square
Date: March 29, 2014
Time: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Join the walk on Facebook.
Click here for a map of the sites we’ll visit and the route we’ll take.

Here are the sites we’ll visit and some of the questions we’ll discuss:

Centennial SquareCentennial Square

  • How has this site been used by protestors, particularly by anti-Olympics groups and the Occupy movement?
  • What makes it an attractive site for protesting?
  • How is it designed to be easily policed? What physical and legal technologies have been employed here to control protestors?

Bastion BricksBastion Outline on Government Street

  • What was the Bastion originally created for? How was it related to forms of civil, military and commercial power?
  • How is the Bastion represented now? How and why was the brick outline created?
  • Given the variety of heritage plaques, First Nations inspired art, and cultural institutions in the vicinity, how should we interpret this site? How is our experience of this place structured by the information embedded in the landscape?
  • Does the fact that the cannons were fired during a dispute with First Nations people in 1844 appear in any of the heritage interpretation signs at this site?

View of SonghesSonghees Lookout

  • Are you aware that the Songhees First Nation used to have a reserve at Songhees Point? Do you know why the Songhees were encouraged to move there in the 1840s?
  • How do you think Victoria would have been different if the reserve had remained across the harbour in Vic West, rather than being moved to Esquimalt in 1911?
  • Do you know about the totem pole that was raised at Songhees Point to celebrate the Commonwealth Games? How else were First Nations involved in the Games?

Ship Point Navy Sculpture

  • What does this statue say about Victoria’s relationship with the military? What does it ask us to remember? What does it ask us to forget? How is it used by residents and tourists?
  • Does it seem odd that one of the main pieces of sculpture here lists a number of corporate sponsors?

Commonwealth Games Commemorative Sign

  • Are the Commonwealth Games generally remembered positively or negatively by residents of Victoria? Do you remember Expo 86 or the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver as being more controversial than the Commonwealth Games?
  • Were you aware that “designated demonstration areas” were set up at all Commonwealth Games venues? Did you know that Games organizers used a number of security measures, including “the placement of surveillance cameras in the Inner Harbor, … photo-IDing of sex-trade workers, and the removal of the homeless from the city’s inner core”?1 How do you think these measures influenced the public’s perception of the Games and of Victoria?
  • What organizations control and manage this area? What effects might this have on the Causeway as a public space?

Legislature Grounds

  • What do you know about the Canada Day bomb plot? Do you recall how it was reported by the media and handled by the police and courts? What do you think of the so-called “Mr. Big” investigative technique?
  • What effect do you think threats like the Canada Day bomb plot (and the reporting about them) have on large public gatherings in Victoria and elsewhere? How do you sort out the various risks and benefits of public gatherings and demands for increased policing?
  • Has the nature and policing of large events at this site changed over the past few decades? How is it used differently for protests, celebrations, state occasions and tourism?
  • How do you feel about the war memorials near this site? How are they used for Rememberance Day and other commemorative ceremonies?

1Steen Hume, “(Re)Locating the Local in the Global: Theorizing Cultural Politics during the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games,” MA Thesis, University of Victoria, 1998.

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