February 11, 2010
Editor’s note: The effort seems to be coordinated by DHS and Canada’s CBSA.
All reports filed by Chicago IndyMedia:
Rochester Indymedia journalist, Dawn Zuppelli, was interrogated and detained for over an hour by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) on her way to cover protests at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC. Upon arriving at customs at the Vancouver International Airport, she and her colleague Ted Forsyth, also with Rochester Indymedia, were asked the obligatory questions as to why they were coming to Vancouver. Zuppelli was tagged for further interrogation and funneled off to a check point area sometime around 12:05AM on February 10. She was released sometime around 1:15AM. She was taken into a separate room with other agents and passengers. The room was outfitted with sterile metal desks, two sided mirrored window rooms, and plenty of customs officers donning bullet proof vests and latex gloves.
Zuppelli and Forsyth were traveling on Alaska Airlines flight 701 via Seattle. The pair had been traveling for over 20 hours after a flight cancellation at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport delayed and re-routed them across the country.
The customs officer asked many questions regarding Zuppelli’s journalism work. Zuppelli explained that she was an independent journalist and the host of IndyTV, broadcast on local channel RCTV in Rochester, NY as well as online at IndyTV.Blip.tv and would be covering events around the Olympics. The customs officer asked to see her documents for her work assignments and seemed agitated that she did not have a clear written plan of her filming destinations while in Vancouver. The officer declared that none of her footage was to air on Canadian television and that she was not to earn any money for her work.
After a thorough investigation of her bags, the officer took Zuppelli’s business card and entered the mirrored back room and did not return for another 40 minutes. Upon his return with another agent, he declared, “I know what your planning to do here!” Zuppelli tiredly responded she did not understand what the problem was. The officer replied, “We did a Google search on you and we know you do this kind of thing. What about the interview of you online talking after being pepper sprayed? You are here to protest and we know that.”
Zuppelli assured the officers that she has been covering political protest mobilizations for many years and had no criminal background. The agent’s response was, “You are allowed to be here but you can not do anything unlawful. We are going to track your movement while in Canada. We will create a special document to add to your passport and if anything was to happen you will be flagged.”
Zuppelli was escorted to a room to have her photo taken which was then attached to a visitor record document. She was told that the visitor record document must remain in her passport during her entire stay. The document clearly stated that Zuppelli had to leave Canada by February 25. The document also stated that Zuppelli was “Prohibited from engaging in employment in Canada; Prohibited from attending any educational institution and taking any academic, professional or vocational training course.” At the bottom of the document, in capital letters, was typed, “This does not authorize re-entry.”
Zuppelli said, “The strange thing is how defensive they seemed about their own behaviour. One officer told me, ‘I know you read the article about the journalist that was turned back. Well he wasn’t honest about the reasons he was coming. You’re allowed to come and protest; this isn’t Russia.'”
The journalist that the agent was making reference to was (olympicresistance.net/content/…rder-feb-6) Martin Macias Jr., an independent media reporter from Chicago and an anti-Olympic organizer for No Games Chicago, who was detained and deported on February 6. His story, much like that of (vancouver.mediacoop.ca/audio/2660) John Weston Osburn, a long-time Indymedia activist who was also interrogated and denied entry to Canada on February 9, illuminates a disturbing pattern of deportation and denials of entry for independent journalists looking to tell another side of the Olympic story in Vancouver.
Upon being released, after a grueling day of travel, Zuppelli expressed gratitude that she was not being deported. The customs officer insisted, “You know it’s not that easy to get deported.” However, our Google search shows otherwise.
[efoods]Martin Macias. Jr., 21, was turned back from the Canadian border late Saturday night and deported to Seattle. Martin was on his way to Vancouver with No Games Chicago co-founder Bob Quellos, where they were to participate in an anti-games conference.
Martin Macias, Jr., a credentialed freelance journalist who contributes to Vocalo.org, the online and new media outlet for Chicago Public Radio, was turned back from the Canadian border late Saturday night.
Martin was a lead organizer for No Games Chicago, the all-volunteer citizens group that opposed the Chicago bid for the 2016 Olympics. Martin was part of the No Games delegations that went to the International Olympic Committee’s international headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland and then to Copenhagen, Denmark to deliver materials documenting the reasons why Chicago should not have been awarded the games. Martin was an invited guest a conference critical of the 2010 Vancouver games and the Olympic industry.
“I was in the passport line in Vancouver,” said Martin, “and I told them I was a radio journalist and a student a Malcolm X College. The agent put a big circle and x on my ticket. I was pulled out the line and questioned aggressively for two hours. They wanted to know what I was going to do in Vancouver, who i was meeting with, who organized the conference and what they looked like. They took all my contact information and business cards of journalists and other people I was to connect with while in Vancouver.”
Martin also said that he asked for a lawyer and was denied access to one. He demanded to know what his rights were. “You don’t have any, they told me.”
After the questioning, the authorities put him on a plane to Seattle, where he is on his own. He is staying at a hotel using his pocket money for now until he can find another place to stay. His return ticket is still valid and Martin plans to stay in Seattle for the moment until he can figure out what to do next.
I had the pleasure and privilege of working with Martin on the No Games campaign and can say that Chicago is lucky to have such a young person so talented, knowledgeable and passionate about social justice issues. We always said that cities that host the Olympic games surrender their sovereignty to the IOC and must subordinate their laws to the whim and rule of a Swiss corporation. Now, it seems that this applies to entire nations. And while I am no legal scholar, Martin’s treatment seems to violate several clauses of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
What happened to Martin could happen to you if you run afoul of the large corporations that now dominate international affairs. If you dare to criticize Big Policy that is closely aligned with Big Business, you also might find yourself on a watch list and thrown into a detention room and grilled by security forces with no recourse to legal counsel and then flown against your will to a destination not of your choosing.
If you care to express your opinion about this treatment to a law-abiding U.S. citizen, you may want to contact the Canadian Consulate General at Chicago Two Prudential Plaza, 180 North Stetson Avenue, Suite 2400. Chicago, IL 60601. Tel: (312) 616-1860 . (This image is from in front of the IOC Museum, June 2009, when No Games Chicago delivered it’s “Book of Evidence” to the IOC and international press.)
U.S. journalist John Weston Osburn was detained by homeland security on his way back in to the States after being twice denied by Canadian Border Officials on his way into Canada to cover protests at the 2010 Olympics. While in the area between border posts, Osburn was told that he was in a “no mans land,” and was denied the right to speak with a lawyer.
“I repeatedly told the officers that my rights were being violated and that I wished to be released. I felt humiliated, powerless and have rarely felt so unprotected,” said Osburn.
“The supervising officer made reference to making sure i had no weapons of mass destruction and that I wasn’t a terrorist, when it was obvious i have nothing to do with those things. This was all after i was thoroughly questioned and searched on the canadian side which was two hundred yards away at most,” he said.
Osburn travelled 2000 miles to Vancouver from Salt Lake City, Utah, with the aim of documenting protests to the 2010 Olympics. He has worked with Indymedia and the Glass Bead Collective in the US.