rafe arnott/metro vancouver


A woman screams at pro-Kosovo independence demonstrators outside the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) yesterday.

In an occurrence that was characteristically Vancouver, multiple protest groups took to the streets yesterday, at times clashing with one another.

The Anti-Poverty Committee staged a march from Victory Square to the Olympic countdown clock at the Vancouver Art Gallery to protest the B.C. Liberals’ upcoming budget announcement. Members chanted, banged on pots and pans and threw yellow paintballs at the clock, which they said represents the "brutal contradictions in the Liberals’ new era."

On the other side of the gallery, members of Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO), who were calling for Canada/NATO out of Afghanistan, competed for sidewalk space with a group protesting what it called the illegal secession of Kosovo.

Meanwhile, supporters of Kosovo’s independence drove by, shouting obscenities and waving the flag of Albania. An all-out pro-separatist protest took place outside the Vancouver Public Library at the intersection of Homer and Georgia streets.

"We’re both against imperialism," shouted one anti-separatism protester in an attempt to cool heads.

A few feet away, a group handed out literature on the Cuban Five, five men who were convicted in U.S. federal court on charges of espionage and are currently in a U.S. prison.

All four protests took place within a two-block radius. While the kafuffles turned a few heads, most Vancouverites seemed unfazed by the chaos.

"I don’t know what they are doing, so I don’t care," said Myki Daido of Ebi Ten Japanese restaurant on Robson Street. She added that the protests did seem to be drawing more customers.

"For us, it’s kind of normal," said one Starbucks employee with a laugh.

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