The 2002 Winter Olympics opened in Utah a week ago covered in gale-driven snow and wrapped in a $310 million security blanket to keep the so-called terrorists at bay. Turning Salt Lake City into one of the most heavily guarded placeson Earth was an army of 15,000 troops, police, Secret Service agents, Black Hawk helicopters and F-16 jets armed with anti-aircraft missiles. The patriotic opening ceremony featured the tattered U.S. flag unearthed from the rubble ofthe World Trade Center, carried into the stadium by eight US athletes and an honor guard of New York City firefighters and cops. “The Star-Spangled Banner” swept over the crowd. And throughout this week, the major media has lauded the Olympics with headlines like, “Olympics unify world in wake of Sept. 11.”
There are 10,000 journalists in Salt Lake City this year for the spectacle of the 2002 Olympic Games. And it only took a week for the medal count of the winners to be dwarfed by accusations of conspiracy, sellout, and vote-fixingby figure skating judges. But while the figure skating scandal made the world’s media, the thousands of protesters outside the games every day have received barely a mention—aside from the odd jab at “sullen young anarchists” sloping through the streets of Salt Lake City.
Protests have taken place almost every day, ranging from animal rights groups demonstrating against the Olympic rodeo to anti-police brutality demonstrations to welfare rights groups. On the opening day of the Olympic Games, a week ago today, five people were arrested during the Kensington Welfare Rights Union “March for Our Lives” demonstration outside the site of the opening ceremony. Protesters, including KWRU director Cheri Honkala, demanded that the millions of taxpayer dollars spent on the Olympics go to community needs.
- Amy Hynes, co-founder, Citizen Activist Network, a network of activist groups based in Salt Lake City
- Nathaniel Lincoln Mills, three year Olympic speed skater, now a peace teacher in DC public schools. He competed in the 1992, 1994, and 1998 Olympics. He is in Salt Lake City this year as an “athletic representative.”