Yesterday Thomas Bach—head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Olympics’ governing body of oligarchs and white-collar criminals—visited Los Angeles to invoke some old Nazi Olympic traditions at the Coliseum for a dreadful and bizarre NFL game between the recently relocated L.A. Rams and the unnamable Washington team.
A German national, Bach was flown in specifically to light the Olympic cauldron, a symbol itself which was heavily invoked in the Nazi-run 1936 Olympics and inspired the Nazis to invent their own fiery tradition—the running of the torch. These allusions to fascist violence felt particularly egregious at an event benefitting and celebrating the NFL, an entity that tolerates misogyny and punishes those who speak out against racism, and hosting a team whose very name celebrates colonial violence and white supremacy.
So, along with some comrades from YDSA USC, NOlympics LA decided to infiltrate this NFL game with a dozen or so comrades. Attendance was incredibly poor at this Rams game and the season opener the week prior, further proof that Angelenos are not clamoring for more major sporting events in our city. Much like there probably isn’t as emphatic of a demand for the Olympics as the people driving the bid want there to be. The bid committee, City Council, and Garcetti have insisted for months that sports will bring communities together and make them stronger, and the Coliseum can serve as a symbol of our city’s strength and unity. We saw something very different at the Coliseum yesterday. The stadium was like a ghost town 20 minutes before kickoff, eerily empty and silent with the exception of the occasional Washington fan screaming out a racial slur. Vendors were selling $14 cans of Bud Light while unhoused people waited just outside the gates to collect them. Homeless encampments were the biggest we’ve ever seen east of the 110, near the ‘84 Olympic marquee. How can LA2028 and our elected officials claim that this is an environment that will bring our city closer together?
We created a giant “NOlympics LA” banner and brought it to an area of the stands directly facing Bach and the cauldron. Right before kickoff, during the cheaply and hastily produced cauldron ceremony, we began chanting, “IOC: Go Away! No Olympics in LA”. After several minutes, security finally approached us. Simultaneously, three members of the crowd in front of us became belligerent and irate at the fact we were protesting the lack of democracy in the Olympic bidding (and overall) process.
Two of them tried to pull our banner away from us, jerking it violently and threatening physical harm to us. One security guard actually tried to pull it away from these men. Ultimately, we got our banner out and peacefully exited the stadium when we were asked to leave. On the perimeter of the stadium, some other security guards insisted that our group was inciting violence. Meanwhile, aggressive people all around the stadium were given license to threaten violence and scream racial epithets at will.
On our way out, we posed for a picture in front of one of LA’s worst (but most apt) pieces of public art and answered some questions for members of the international press.
Afterwards, we met up with a group of protesters from groups American Indian Movement Southern California (AIMSoCal) and Red Earth Defense who were there to protest the visiting team, the Washington franchise that has used a racist mascot for almost a century which demeans and derides indigenous people. Our group joined their circle and march, as they sang and spoke about their culture, which the American sports industrial complex (as well as the American capitalist machine at large) has gone to great lengths to try to both erase and trivialize.
Around that time, Thomas Bach, Eric Garcetti, and Casey Wasserman were jumping into cars and heading to the Emmys, where America’s contempt for the poor and marginalized was even further on display.
We achieved all of our goals. Thomas Bach got a taste of our efforts which he can bring back to Lausanne and share with his confederacy of dullards at the IOC. And, fair warning to the IOC and the 2028 committee: we are everywhere and we’re growing every day.
We’re winning, and we have the most time an Olympic opposition group has ever had.
Stay tuned for much more.