Groups are planning criminal Olympic protests similar to the 1999 Battle in Seattle, the head of security for the 2010 Games warned city councillors yesterday.

In a briefing to city council, RCMP Assistant Cmdr. Bud Mercer, the chief operating officer for the 2010 Integrated Security Unit, said the majority of people opposed to the Games will express themselves through legal protest.

But he added, “Locally, provincially, nationally and internationally, there are groups that are considering or planning to engage in criminal protest during the 2010 Games.”

As examples, Mercer pointed to the 1994 Stanley Cup riot and anti-globalization protests like those in Seattle in 1999 and Quebec City in 2001.

“There are things that will happen during major events that we have responsibility to plan and prepare for.”

Mercer also defended recent reports of ISU officers approaching anti-Olympic protesters to open the lines of communication.

The ISU, he added, is planning to establish “free-speech areas” during the Games similar to those used during the 2008 Francophonie Summit in Quebec City.

More than 900 closed-circuit television cameras will be installed at venues during the Games. They will be removed when the Olympics are finished.