Report from the Street Action Against the Cops in Vancouver
By Nobody Special, March 16, 2006 / Vancouver, Canada
Last night, on the International Day Against Police Brutality (March 15), about 50 people marched down Hastings Street from Victory Square to the cop shop on Main Street.
An indigenous person made a short speech before the march took off, saying that Vancouver cops are an invading force on Native land and that indigenous people here didnâ€™t have cops before colonization.
Most people in the march wore masks to conceal their identity from the police. Hip hop, metal and punk tunes, mostly with anti-cop lyrics, were played from a ghetto-blaster. The crowd shouted “Fuck the Cops!”
An unmarked police vehicle and a cop standing next to it with a video camera were pelted with many eggs at the start of the march.
A journalist who was taking photos of the march was attacked by masked rebels. This made the media vulture back off a bit.
The Main Street police station was hit with a bunch of paint-bombs and a bottle was thrown at the court building next to the police station.
Vancouver Report from International Day Against Police Brutality
March 15th, 2005, was the ninth annual International Day Against Police Brutality (IDAPB). This day of action began in 1997, as an initiative of the Black Flag collective in Switzerland, with the help of the Montreal Collective Opposed to Police Brutality. The date was chosen because on March 15th, two children, aged 11 and 12, were beaten by Swiss police.
In Vancouver, this year’s IDAPB started off with a hot food serving at the former Woodwards squat (a large department building in Canada’s poorest neighbourhood, occupied in 2002 and evicted by riot police). Along with the food, leaflets and newsletters were also distributed, containing information on the IDAPB march scheduled for that night and profiles of Vancouver Police in-custody deaths and RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) involvement in the military occupations of Haiti, Iraq, and indigenous nations in Canada.
At 7:00 pm, about 100 people gathered in Victory Square. Some flew black flags and wore masks to avoid police identification (including video surveillance and plain clothes officers). After a few short speeches, the crowd began to march down Hastings Street, led by a banner with the words: “Resist Police Control – Fight For Freedom”. Another banner read: “Stolen Lives”, listing some of the people who have been killed by Vancouver cops in the past few years (Gerald Chenery, Robert Bagnell, Roman Andreichikov, Christopher Ecklund, Benny Matson, Jeff Berg, and Frank Paul). A stereo pumped out anti-cop hip hop, heavy metal, and punk songs.
Police kept their distance from the crowd throughout the march. As soon as the crowd arrived at the Main and Hastings police station, eggs, paint, and fireworks were tossed at police vehicles and the station itself. Police cars were hit with the wooden poles with black flags attached.
The march then continued up Hastings and more fireworks were thrown around. A private security car, unmarked police vehicle, and corporate TV news van were egged.
After the march dispersed, at least two people were arrested. Another four or five people were seen being handcuffed, but it was not clear whether they were released or taken to jail. Only one person used the lawyer’s phone number distributed at the beginning of the march.
The night’s events were a distinct break from the everyday routine of submission to police control and murder.
IDAPB marches also took place in Calgary, Montreal, and Phoenix (Arizona). The Montreal Gazette (corporate press) reported five arrests at the Montreal event after a scuffle with riot police.
– Excerpt from the Vancouver callout by the Independent IDAPB Organizing Group:
“We are not calling for a protest or a demonstration. Our purpose is not to whine to the media about how awful the police are. Instead, we want to open up space for people that are directly affected by police brutality to express their anger and take action. We are not a charity, religious, or legal group trying to save the poor.
We are individuals who do not want to live under the clubs and watchful eyes of the cops, and we want to fight alongside those who feel the same way. We choose to organize independently from all political activist groups and parties, and encourage others to form affinity groups and initiate actions against police control.
In every society the police are the frontline soldiers and occupying army in service of the rich. Vancouver itself is the product of the violent displacements, imprisonment and forced religious indoctrination of the indigenous peoples of the Sto:lo, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations. The Vancouver police murder of Frank Paul (a Mi’kmaq man) in 1998, the non-investigation of the missing women cases, and the escalated police occupation of the Downtown Eastside since April 2003 are only the most recent examples of this ongoing legacy of colonialism. The police brutality and killing that make the headlines are only the tip of the iceberg. The root of the problem is the parasitic economic system that the cops are paid to defend.
The Vancouver Police Department is fighting a war for control of the city. With the Safe Streets Act and the ongoing yuppification of Vancouver neighbourhoods, this war can only escalate. IDAPB is a step towards building effective resistance to the police at a practical level.”
Report from the March Against Police Brutality in Vancouver
March 16, 2004
About 100 people marched through the streets of Vancouver on the night of Monday, March 15, 2004, marking the International Day Against Police Brutality. The event was organized in an autonomous way by the “March 15 Organizing Group” and the Vancouver Squeegee Council, without protest marshals, police liasons, media spokespeople or press releases, expressing a radical perspective against the police and the rich elite who they protect. After a free meal, marchers chanted “No more pigs in our communities! Fuck the pigs!” as they snaked through the Downtown Eastside, past the Main Street police station, up Granville Street, and then through Vancouver’s yuppie shopping district on Robson Street. Residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside spoke out against the constant harassment and brutality that they face every day, and about 20 masked-up rebels flew red-and-black flags and banged on make-shift drums and newspaper boxes throughout the spirited demonstration. There were no arrests during the march itself, but earlier in the day police harrassed a small group who were leafletting for that night’s event and arrested another person in a seperate incident.
In Montreal about 500 people marched through the city, drawing attention to recent cases of police brutality and police-related deaths. Towards the end of the event, a clash broke out with the police, as bottles were hurled at the cops and trash cans were set on fire. The riot squad was deployed and nine people were arrested.
The Brutality of Policing in Vancouver
Reports from Montreal and Winnipeg –
Compte-rendu de la manif du 15 mars 2004 (report on the Montreal march – in French)
Winnipeggers Take to the Streets on the Eighth International Day Against Police Brutality
NDP/COPE Commercial Drive “Community Safety” Forum Disrupted
March 17, 2004
As a follow up to the International Day Against Police Brutality, eight young rebels disrupted a “community safety” forum on March 16 at the Britannia School on Commerical Drive. Completely rejecting dialogue with the class enemy or any kind of political representation, the group heckled the panel of NDP and COPE politicians, yelling “Fuck the police”, and calling the NDP out on their opportunistic hypocrisy by shouting about their cuts to welfare in 1996.
A few attendees swarmed the young group and screamed at them to “shut up”. After one of the rebels took the microphone to clearly express that they were not there to engage in a “democratic debate”, but were instead disturbing the peace of the politicians in open class war, the group stormed out of the meeting, singing “No more pigs in our communities!”
The forum was part of a growing push from the middle and upper class for increased policing in Vancouver. Over the past few weeks the Vancouver Police have initiated a “crackdown” on Commercial Drive, arresting and photographing groups of young people on the street and harassing panhandlers.
The COPE civic party also sent an occupation force of 60 new cops into the Downtown Eastside in April of 2003. Now they claim to want to deal with the displacement of “crime” to the Commercial Drive area by using the same methods – bringing in more cops.
In 1995, the ruling NDP party ordered the RCMP to assault indigenous defenders at Gustafsen Lake in BC, with a “shoot-to-kill” policy. Armored Personnel Carriers, land mines and more than 70,000 rounds of ammunition were used to prevent Secwepemc people from holding a ceremony on their own land.
International Day Against Police Brutality in Vancouver
March 15, 2003
Several months ago the Collective Opposed to Police Brutality – Vancouver (COPB-Van) initiated an International Day Against Police Brutality (IDAPB) working group to plan a series of events and a demonstration for March 15. The working group took preparations by making posters, flyers, and banners and by communicating and coordinating with individuals, community groups, street youth, and residents of the poorest neighbourhood in Vancouver, the Downtown Eastside.
On Friday, March 14, working group members produced a special IDAPB radio show on the local Co-Op radio station, interviewed IDAPB organizers in Philadelphia and Winnipeg, as well as a member of the Anti-Poverty Committee of Vancouver and the Vancouver IDAPB working group.
Later that night the IDAPB working group held a social event at a community centre with food and a showing of 3 short videos on the Secwepemc Native Youth Movement (NYM), their defence of their indigenous territories from the Sun Peaks ski resort, as well as police brutality and the bulldozing of a Secwepemc home.
On Saturday, March 15, the Vancouver working group held an International Day Against Police Brutality demonstration, starting at 12 noon in Victory Square with a serving by Food Not Bombs. Indigenous elders welcomed the demonstrators to Coast Salish Territories and spoke out against police harassment, brutality and murder of indigenous people. Attention was drawn to the recent shooting murder of an indigenous woman named Lorraine Jacobsen by a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer in Alert Bay on Vancouver Island.
Several other speakers expressed their rage at police brutality and harassment in the Downtown Eastside, including the violent eviction and police attacks at the Woodwards squat and the routine use of pepper-spray on individuals after they have been arrested and handcuffed.
The demonstrators, numbering about 75 people, then marched through Gastown, a yuppie tourist shopping district, chanting “No more pigs in our communities!” Nearly half the marchers wore masks and waved black flags.
A heavy police presence followed the march throughout its duration.
Demonstrators stopped in front of the office of yuppie architect, community business association leader, and pro-police advocate Bryce Rositch, and spoke out against his efforts towards gentrifying the Downtown Eastside.
The march then arrived at the Vancouver police station on the corner of Main and Hastings streets, set down a wooden “pig pen” in the middle of the road and yelled “Fuck the police!”
Demonstrators marched to Oppenheimer park to end the event and the majority of the group then broke off and marched to the anti-war rally taking place at the Art Gallery downtown, singing “All we are saying… is shoot the police!” and chanting “What’s the solution? Revolution!”. On the way, a masked demonstrator smashed a paper-mache pig head, and police officers on bicycles charged into two masked demonstrators repeatedly. The crowd rushed up to the cops, screamed in their faces, and intimidated them into riding away from the group and up ahead of the march. The anti-police brutality contingent then arrived at the anti-war rally, formed a circle, and dispersed through the crowd.
The next day, No One Is Illegal – Vancouver put on a conference during which local activist Alfonso Osorio spoke out against police brutality and targeted racist harassment against the Latino immigrant community in Vancouver.
This year’s IDAPB demonstration was generally considered to be an empowering event and has strengthened networks between anarchists, street youth, and those living in poverty in the Downtown Eastside. By standing up to police oppression, the opportunity has been opened up for broader involvement in anti-police struggles by all people affected.
March 15, 2003