Police Riot in East Vancouver
an insurrectionary anarchist analysis
Friday, October 4, 2002
On Thursday, October 3, 2002, a police riot broke out in East Vancouver.
Demonstrators had gathered outside the new Eastside Family Place in East Vancouver at 3pm to oppose a planned appearance by Gordon Campbell, the province’s Premier. His speech was shut down by a militant demonstration by homeless people, squatters, parents and school children who are all infuriated at the Campbell government’s murderous cuts to social services and tax breaks for the rich.
Earlier in the day, demonstrators attempted to block Campbell from speaking at the University of British Columbia. As his van pulled up, demonstrators rushed to block the door, screaming and yelling, and were tackled to the ground by security, and Campbell was rushed inside.
Later that day, more than a hundred demonstrators would gather at the Eastside Family place, only to be faced with brutal police repression. An elderly man dressed as a clown attempted to enter the building and was arrested roughly by police officers. Outraged demonstrators, surrounded the police, some using a large sign-board to block the cops way, and shouted their demand for the police to let the old man go. The police responded by pushing the elderly man’s face into a wall, breaking his glasses and drawing blood. A scuffle broke out as demonstrators and police pushed up against each other with the sign-board. The situation escalated.
Police reinforcements arrived and hauled the old man into a paddy wagon as demonstrators and police pushed and shoved each other. The police paddy wagon began to drive away, hitting some people in the crowd. Members of the crowd grabbed a large dumpster and pulled it in front of the police van. The police responded by pushing, grabbing, and beating people. Other people from the crowd pulled large wooden pallets in front of the police van and pushed them under its wheels. The police violently arrested another person. A large group of people sat in front of the van and linked arms, which resulted in a brief stand-off.
At this point more and more school children and other citizens had arrived and began to show their anger with the police. Children jumped on the van and yelled insults at the police. The crowd chanted for the release of the prisoners and for the “pigs” to go home.
The police then informed the group that they would be arrested for “obstruction”, at which point they pushed forward, grabbing and beating people. The crowd fell back and the police grabbed a 12-13 year old boy in a headlock and proceeded to arrest him. A man attempted to assist the boy and both he and the young boy were smashed into a wall head-first. The police officer punched the boy in the head, and drew blood. People have reported that the officer drew his gun and pointed it at the boy’s head.
The crowd responded with absolute outrage and fury. People began to spit on officers. The police van drove away with those arrested and the crowd rushed forward in an attempt to push the police out of the area. Police pepper-sprayed the crowd and people began to defend themselves by throwing water bottles and small rocks at the police. A stand-off and shouting match lasted for a brief moment and the police eventually vacated the area, and began to walk up Commercial Drive. The crowd cheered, followed the police, threw small rocks, and chanted “No more pigs in our community!” and “We will win!” as the cops walked away in shame. The crowd walked up to Grandview Park and vandalized a “Community Police Station”, throwing eggs and writing graffiti on its windows.
7 people were arrested during the clash. The Premier was told by police to not attend the event as a result of the disruptive demonstration. In news reports he called the demonstrators “thugs”. Corporate media reported the event as a “violent protest”, and not as a police attack on a community.
Among the most militant demonstrators were local school children of colour, who did not hesitate to defend themselves from the police incursion on to their school grounds. After the initial police attack, young children elbowed officers, yelled insults, and threw rocks to defend their community from the invading “pigs”.
The crowd responded quickly to the police attack by utilizing objects at hand such as sign boards, dumpsters, and wooden pallets, showing an increasing willingness to expand upon militant tactics in the wake of brutal police assaults during the recent eviction of the Woodwards Squat and the subsequent raid on the tent city outside the building.
People who were dogmatically pacifist only weeks before are now expressing open class hatred of the police and a willingness to combat the forces of the State to defend their communities.
The clash in East Vancouver brought class conflict out into the open, and broke the illusions held in the minds of many regarding the role of the police and mainstream media.
With the growing police repression, and resulting combativeness of the social movement in British Columbia and Vancouver, we are now looking at a situation in which the Premier of the province is not able to show his face in public.
The movement of the exploited and excluded is one step closer to victory.
The class war rages on!
Insurrectionary Anarchists of the Coast Salish Territories (Vancouver)