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(en) Canada, Vancouver, Cops Reject Inquiry Into Brutal Assault on Activists

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 18 Mar 2004 09:01:08 +0100 (CET)


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At a press briefing this morning, the Vancouver Police Department
continued their assault on 8 Eastside residents who were viciously beaten
by Vancouver cops February 29th while returning home in the early morning
hours. Producing 911 tapes and a pair of boots as "evidence", the VPD
stepped forward to claim officers innocent of any wrongdoing in the
incident, without pursuing any formal process or inquiry.
The six women and two men, involved in Vancouver’s activist and anarchist
communities, who were assaulted by police February 29th stand by
statements of injury and innocence they have made in the public and to the
media, and maintain that this is not an isolated incident of police
brutality. Community outcry for police department accountability and
inquiries into events involving excessive force used by police has been a
feature of the poor relationship between the VPD and the community over
the past few years.

Community members were upset today that the Vancouver Police Department
held a briefing to maintain no wrongdoing in this event before any trial,
inquiry, or interviews with eye-witnesses to the event could take place.
This appears to be a move to intimidate people challenging police actions,
and puts any future trial or inquiry in jeopardy.

Although the VPD released some of the 911 tapes from that evening, they
did not release the 911 call made by an eyewitness who phoned to get
emergency medical attention to the scene. Further to this, the VPD failed
to mention during its briefing that one of the officers involved in the
February 29th incident is currently under investigation by the Police
Commissioner for using excessive force at a cancelled “Guns N’ Roses”
concert last year (during which two men who were actually following police
orders to disperse were smashed in the face with batons resulting in
extensive injuries).

The PIVOT Legal Society (a Vancouver-based group focusing on police
brutality and harassment of drug users, the homeless and other
marginalized persons) and other local and international organizations have
conducted wide ranging studies over the past 2 years indicating that
negligence, the use of excessive force, and human rights abuses are all
part of standard operating procedure in the Vancouver Police Department.
This latest campaign to smear legitimate complainants of police violence
is just one more example of a force sadly out of touch with working and
poor people in Vancouver.

In a related event, on the evening of March 15, around 100 activists,
anarchists, trade unionists and community members held a lively and
spirited march through the streets of Vancouver during International Day
Against Police Brutality. Marching past the main police station, through
the Downtown Eastside and down yuppie Robson Street, marchers chanted “No
Justice, No Peace, Fuck the Police!” and “No More Pigs in Our
Communities.” Masked militants carrying black and black and red flags
banged on makeshift drums, street signs and mail boxes and overturned a
few newspaper boxes belonging to the corporate media. Marchers dispersed
safely on Granville Street and there were no arrests (although earlier in
the day, an anti-poverty activist was arrested for not carrying the paper
outlining his bail conditions – a charge stemming from an earlier incident
when he went to observe a comrade being jacked-up by the cops - at the
conclusion of a demonstration outside the monthly meeting of the Vancouver
Police Board).

The 8 activists return to court on March 23 to face charges of
obstruction, mischief and assault on a police officer.

The original news release from the February 29th, 2004 incident can be
found at http://resist.ca/~vpdbrutality.

Reports detailing VPD abuses by PIVOT, PACE (Prostitution Alternatives and
Counseling), and Human Rights Watch can be downloaded at
http://www.pivotlegal.org/complaint/index.html.

submitted by blackandred





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