Photoblog: Olympic torch relay disrupted by demonstrators

I wasn’t assigned to cover the Olympic torch relay on the evening of Thursday Dec. 17, 2009, but ran right into it as I was heading from work to work out at the downtown YMCA.

I got to College subway station and saw the crowd waiting for the torch. 
As I
was preparing to make my way through the crowd to the Y, I heard yelling. Then I saw that a group of demonstrators had rushed onto Yonge
Street south of College yelling slogans like “No Olympics on stolen native land”  and waving signs.

I didn’t have my main photo gear but  had the trusty small camera I always carry in a fanny pack, the Panasonic FZ28.

torchdemostarts.jpgWith the FZ28, as I have in the past, I pushed the Panasonic Lumix to its limit to shoot the demonstration using available light.  ISO 1600, EV +1.5, shutter priority at 1/40 and 1/50 of a second.

The crowd then congregated at Yonge and
College Streets.

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Demonstrators opposing the Olympic torch relay gather at Yonge and
College streets in Toronto on Thursday night.  (Robin Rowland/CBC)

As the demonstrators moved up Yonge Street, I called the CBC news desk to tell them what was going on. 

Brett Gundlock of The National Post grabbed shot of a demonstrator as I passed by talking on my cell phone to the CBC Live Desk.

torchdemo3.jpgToronto police at first tried and failed to stop the demonstration at Yonge and Grovesnor Streets when the protesters ran into the first two police cruisers escorting the torch parade.  (Robin Rowland/CBC)

Further up Yonge Street, a cordon of police officers with bicycles stopped the protest a block south of Wellesley Street.

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Police officers create a bicycle cordon to stop the demonstration before the protesters could reach the torch relay. (Robin Rowland/CBC)

The torch relay reached the blockade and waited for about half an hour. Then the organizers and police decided to reroute the relay across Wellesley and then down University Avenue to its destination of Toronto City Hall.

torchstopped1.jpg


A few hundred demonstrators shouting “No Olympics on stolen native land” stopped the Olympic torch relay on Toronto’s Yonge Street Thursday night, forcing the relay to be rerouted. Here the lights of the lead police escort vehicle shine through a demonstrator’s banner.  (Robin Rowland/CBC)

After about 20 minutes, the protest leaders called on their followers to disperse, but it was about another half hour after that they did leave and traffic resumed on Yonge Street.

Related link
More photos of the protest  from Brett Gundlock on his blog