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Various protest groups plan to use the summer Olympics to make their voices heard.
The Olympics were initially meant to bring countries together, and the Olympic torch was originally conceived as a symbol of harmony. But that vision may be a little too idyllic for modern times. Economic hardship and social unrest continue as London's Games get rolling, and organizers have braced themselves for a variety of demonstrations.
More from GlobalPost: London protesters gear up for the Olympic games
Already, as many as 400 took to the streets on Saturday in East London to demostrate against what they call the "Corporate Olympics." Police reported that the demonstration, organized by the Counter Olympics Network, unfolded "without any incident," but protesters voiced their anger over free tickets for the upper class and "roads being turned into exclusive highways for VIPs." The placement of missiles on residential rooftops was another complaint among the activisits.
In addition to the Counter Olympics Network, GlobalPost takes a look at four more protest groups that are likely to make a scene in London: Space Hijackers, Art Not Oil, Greenwash Gold, and Anonymous.
1. Counter Olympics Network (CON) is an umbrella group for people and organizations with a variety of concerns — including the environment, corporate power, civil liberties, housing and labor issues and more.
(Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images)
What they want: With so many broad concerns on its agenda, CON views the Olympics as a place to be heard. On its website, CON states its mission: “Our aim is not to oppose the Olympics as such, but to use the spectacle to strengthen existing campaigns and activism on local issues like housing, privatization and surveillance. We also want to hold the organizers of the Olympic games to account, to ensure the promises made to the local people impacted on by the Games are kept.”
How they go about getting it: A little civil disobedience. CON’s website includes updates on current campaigns, such as the "Counter Olympic Torch Relay," and also advertises upcoming events and demonstrations. Saturday's protest was titled "Whose games? Whose city?" and the poster promised “a fluffy, family friendly protest for all.”
Best known for: CON has emerged as a main organizer of protests during the games, and coordinates with many other groups like Our Olympics and Drop Dow Now. CON’s website is where to go to find out about upcoming events, meetings, and demonstrations.
How they are seen by others: In April, Businessweek noted that the groups present at CON’s organizational meeting were focused on disruption, but the activists demonstrated organizational skills by using sign language to show support for an idea rather than by interrupting the speaker. A Reuters article also published online in April refers to CON as a “local campaign,” but it seems that this group has the potential to organize serious anti-Olympic action.
2. The Space Hijackers have dubbed themselves “the official protesters of the London 2012 Olympic games.” This London-based collective of “anarchitects” started in 1999. Now, anywhere from two to 30-plus people come together for a hijacking project. Most hijackers are between 16 to 65 years old, but some like to get their kids involved as well.
(Graeme Rovertson/Getty Images)
What they want: As you may have guessed, the Space Hijackers focus on space — the kind that’s all around us. They “oppose the way that public space is being eroded and replaced by corporate profit making space,” according to their website. Through their various projects in the London area, the Space Hijackers “attempt to raise awareness of issues within spaces and change how these spaces are used...” As far as the Olympics go, the Hijackers have a lot to say about how the games will negatively impact London: “We feel the sport, the point of the games, has got completely lost under the weight of logos and corporate sponsorship."
See the Space Hijackers’ Top 10 reasons to protest the Olympics
How they go about getting it: Past demonstrations have included games of cricket against capitalists in London’s financial district, spontaneous games of Starbucks “musical chairs,” and even attempting to auction off a tank to the highest bidder at a DSEi (Defense Systems Equipment International) arms fair in