Anti-Olympic mural censored in Vancouver

Greg sez, "Yesterday the Crying Room Gallery got a visit from City of Vancouver bylaw inspectors who demanded that they remove "graffiti" from the front of their gallery. The graffiti in question was an anti-Olympic mural by a local artist. The City says it had 'nothing to do with content' and everything to do with graffiti bylaws, but the Crying Room has had art up in that space for the better part of ten years without complaint. The B.C. Civil Liberties Association has come out against the City's crackdown. The BCCLA Legal Observer Program, set up to monitor for rights violations during the Games, has started a gallery of Olympic censorship in Vancouver."

Vancouver orders removal of anti-Olympic mural (Thanks, Greg!)

(Image: Globe and Mail The Blackbird)


  1. Never before have I felt so ashamed to be from BC.

    Anyone feel like setting up some sort of fund for the BCCLA and/or the Crying Room specifically to fight this insanity? I plan on donating to support the opposition of insanity like this.

  2. Did you request a license from the Globe to reprint the photo? I hope not, because they don’t have the right to issue you one. I took the shot and the Globe did not request or receive permission to publish it. Same thing with CTV.

    Not to worry. It’s not your fault. You thought the Globe owned the rights to the shot. I’d really like to know if you purchased the right to publish it on your site because that opens up new legal territory.

    Thanks for helping a freelance photojournalist protect his copyrighted material from media giants demanding the government introduce a bailout tax.

    The Blackbird

  3. Also, those aren’t the Olympic rings, The ones side by side aren’t connected, so this could easily be something else. “Four out of five knights hate chain mail.”

  4. Wait! One of the rings is SMILING. Each ring represents a continent, so presumably the artist means that one continent thinks things are fine. But while the rings represent continents, nobody knows which one is for which.

    Maybe the smiling one is America? In which case this would mean the artist is *supporting* the Olympics, no?

    1. @#5
      I interpret the one smile amongst the many frowns to mean that the Olympics sacrifice the interests and welfare of most for the sake of an elite few.

  5. Even if this ‘graffiti’ was in any way anti-Olympic, what happened to free speech and freedom of expression? No laws, by-laws or Olympic Committees (and their political scheming) should be allowed to DICTATE what people can and cannot think and express regarding their own personal views (so long as no harm is done to anyone). Not to mention that we’re talking about a gallery and therefore about ART, which can have any number of meanings and is a form of creative expression all its own.

    I’ve always been proud to be from BC, and I pimp Vancouver wherever I go, but this is shameful.

  6. I don’t feel particularly anti-Olympic as a BC resident, but things like this infuriate me to the point of making me want to speak out against the Olympics too, or at least the censorship they cause.

  7. The Olympics are slowly turning into a farce through this marketing/copyright crap.

    Vancouver seems to have lost its mind, and London seems to be trying to do the same in 2012.
    I mean, McDonalds is supposed to be the main food sponsor and provide up to 1/4 of the meals, and Coca Cola is the non-alcoholic drinks sponsor.

    Because that’s the Olympic spirit..

    Really, the Olympics seem to have been turned into an even worse marketing form than F1, FIFA, NBA, NFL and all those private, for-profit companies. Of course those are run by small organizations and decisions can be made with a look to their future impact, while the Olympics seem to be managed by huge committees with a bunch of industry connections, possible bribes and all that. And big committees usually only work to find a compromise between committee members, mostly unable to look at the future impact of those decisions.

  8. Madame Streisand’s legacy strikes again.

    Sorry athletes, can’t really watch the Olympics these days.

  9. I don’t see a problem with mac and coke sponsoring activities sat require a gazillion calories a day.

    Sponsoring a comic-con on the other hand would be downright evil

  10. Thanks for that link, Lukin.

    The Olympics is promoted as a universal experience, meant for all to enjoy. This sort of censorship just demonstrates how corrupt and corporatized the IOC is.

    I realize that the athletes are innocent. It’s a shame that their work and dedication is being abused.

  11. to clarify my previous post:

    The Olympic ‘worldwide love of sport’ concept has become just a marketing gimmick.

    It was inevitable, because international corporations are the true powers in the world, but it’s still sad.

  12. The Olympics are about three things:

    1. Sexism – how many sports are male only? And when will we finally see female ski jumpers in the Olympics?

    2. The local “elites” trying to look good to “elites” from elsewhere.

    3. Hellacious amounts of graft.

    It’s a Trifecta!

  13. “The Olympic ‘worldwide love of sport’ concept has become just a marketing gimmick.” – AnneH

    Unfortunately, the Olympic spirit was turned into a promotional tool long before modern times. When Hitler staged the Olympics in Berlin in 1935, he was selling the myth of Aryan superiority, which is considerably more offensive than the farce commercial sponsorship has made modern sports. We can thank Jesse Owens for puncturing that balloon…even though it didn’t (and certainly couldn’t) have prevented WW2, given the Nazi’s inherent racism and aggression.

  14. One person is smiling. I thought of it as: one in five people in Vancouver will be happy about these olympics. Kind of makes a lot of sense and you could apply it to a lot of places.

  15. @4: No, they didn’t sell me a license; I used it here under the banner of fair dealing/use. I’ve updated the attribution — thanks for the correction.

    The copyright of the image is an interesting question. Since the underlying mural is itself copyrighted, if you shot the image without permission, your image may infringe (infringing works don’t attract a copyright — so if you were infringing, the image itself would be both illegal and in the public domain).

    However, even if your photo was taken without permission, other factors may make it non-infringing (you might be creating a transformative, fair dealing use in interpreting the mural through your camera; you may be taking the image in the course of reportage or commentary).

  16. So put it behind the glass, and it isn’t graffiti anymore.

    (Though I suppose cops would just break the window if they did that, and then tell the gallery owner that they have to board it up.)

  17. The Vancouver bylaw that is worded to allow city inspectors to enter homes and businesses to remove offensive signage (the mayor and RCMP claim they won’t go after protest signs but the wording still stands) also says signs using the the logos in a celebratory manner will be allowed so long as they aren’t used to promote non-sponsor products. Vancouver and Richmond residents looking for a celebratory sign for the windows can find one here: (hope the link is okay to post).

  18. I pass by that area time to time. Graffiti’s everywhere around that area. Saying it’s graffiti bylaws for removal is a joke.

  19. This seems to be regular Olympic procedure now. Get taxpayers to pay for a white elephant and to cough up for junkets by the various has-beens, never-weres and criminals on the IOC, then get the government to pass laws that restrict protests.

    They’ve already got the never-less-than-draconian British government to enact similar laws TWO YEARS ahead of the bread-and-circuses fiasco shaping up in the slums of East London (not so far from that other New Labour scandal, the Millennium Dome):

    ‘But civil rights campaigners are worried about several clauses in the London Olympic Games and Games Act 2006. Section 19(4) could cover protest placards, they said, as it read: “The regulations may apply in respect of advertising of any kind including in particular – (a) advertising of a non-commercial nature, and (b) announcements or notices of any kind.”

    ‘Section 22 allows a “constable or enforcement officer” to “enter land or premises” where they believe such an advert is being shown or produced. It allows for materials to be destroyed, and for the use of “reasonable force”. The power to force entry requires a court warrant. Causing still further concern is a section granting the powers to an enforcement officer appointed by Olympic Delivery Authority.’

  20. What a shame. Sounds more like something China would have done. Canada my friend, sometime you disappoint me so.

  21. Vancouver city council, VANOC, et al should be ashamed, but, sadly, this is a brave new Kanada.

    Since when is dissent against the law in western democracies? Oh wait, never mind.


    Everyone should get word out and make sure we work hard to expose this horrible event.

    Homeless being shoved aside, peoples rights ignored, protests stifled, people being harassed at the border.

    The poison of the U.S. is seeping slowly into Canada and we need to expose this before it gets worse!!!!



  23. Every Canadian

    1. Find a photo of this
    2. Print it out
    3. Put it in the window of your house or place of business :)

    I just did.

  24. You know what I hate the most about Canada? The Olympics! I’m one of those people who supports the anti-Olympics protest going on in Vancouver this year. Canada is procrastinating on everything it does, and worst of all, the Olympics is not only further pushing people away, but it also causes a protest in Vancouver. What’s the point of the Olympics if no one’s gonna come to Canada and watch it? Instead of the Olympics, what Canada should be doing is put discounts on all items to attract more customers from around the world. First of all, the stuff in Canada are way too exspensive, especially the phone plans. Second, Canada should cut taxes and stop increasing them every year. Thirdly, Canada should put in more money to improve transportation and take down the Canada Line because it’s absolutely pointless. Fourthly and lastly, Canada should help the homeless.

  25. As a Canadian I believe we need to be vigilant to the censorship of the IOC and other governing bodies. Our children should learn to recognize these infringements and we as parents sometimes need to show them that this is wrong. ‘O Canada we stand on guard for thee‘. There is a reason why we as Canadians take this oath as we award our athletes for their excellence and their service to themselves and their country. Today one of my daughters YouTube videos was censored by the IOC. I invite you to check out this over-the-top censorship at

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