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(en) Canada, Vancouver, Police Stop Homeless from Opening Tent City****, Hypocrisy of “Progressive” Politicians Exposed

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 3 Apr 2004 12:36:34 +0200 (CEST)

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The Downtown Eastside Resident’s Association (DERA), homeless people and
their supporters held a rally and march on April 1 to protest the
provincial government’s cuts to welfare, social housing, women’s centres
and other social programs. The plan was to march to a local green space
and erect a “Tent City” for the homeless (an “advance team” of homeless
organizers were delegated to start setting up in advance of the arriving
demonstration). Unfortunately, Vancouver cops had other ideas: as soon
as organizers started to erect the pre-built structures, about 100 cops
chased the organizers out of the park, blocked off the adjoining street to
all foot and vehicle traffic, confiscated some of the structures, and
prevented the arriving demonstrators from entering the park.

At one point the cops tried to trap the marchers in an alley. Riot pigs
were observed traveling around the demo in vans with blacked-out windows
(but not deployed). Two members of the Anti-Poverty Committee were
arrested for encouraging people to move past the police lines. They were
held for a few hours and released. Police are considering charging one of
the APC members with “incitement to riot.”

The role of the local City government, dominated by the “left-wing”
Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), should be mentioned. Although
the protest was organized to oppose the mean-spirited and poor-bashing
policies of the right-wing British Columbia government of Premier Gordon
Campbell and the BC Liberal Party, at least one “progressive” politician
supports the Vancouver police in their desire to prevent homeless people
from finding a safe place to sleep: COPE City Councilor Jim Green,
himself a former paid organizer with DERA, said the police decision to
take down the squat before it got set up was “the right one.” Green
maintains that the City of Vancouver is “doing all it can” to help the
homeless and suggested that the demonstrators focus their attention on the
provincial government (this despite the fact that Vancouver’s COPE
administration, since coming to power about 2 years ago, have used court
injunctions repeatedly to force homeless people out of City parks and
other public spaces driving them back into alleys, overcrowded and unsafe
shelters and dirty, rat-infested slum dwellings; it was also under the
auspices of COPE that Vancouver police launched “Operation Torpedo” last
summer which saw the VPD put 50 extra cops in the already over-policed
Downtown Eastside to harass, abuse and terrorize poor drug users and other
DTES residents).*

Special mention must also be made of the role of unionized city workers,
members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), in helping the
cops take down the Tent City, despite assurances from the union’s
leadership that this would not happen. The organizers and advocates
employed by DERA are actually members of the union local that represents
these city workers!**

This Saturday, April 3 DTES activists, homeless people and their
supporters will be marching to the COPE Annual General Meeting to demand
that COPE Mayor Larry Campbell and Council allow the homeless to set up
their Tent City on city-owned land. However, if recent history is any
indication, the “progressive” politicians of COPE will continue their
betrayal of the poor and homeless, who can get a blanket from a
city-funded charity and go sleep in the nearest doorway.

*for information on human rights abuses committed by the VPD, read the
reports by the PIVOT Legal Society, Human Rights Watch and others:

**this was not the first time that unionized city workers assisted the
cops in sweeping the homeless off the street: a few years ago during the
Woodsquat protests, after cops broke up a late night street meeting of
homeless people and their supporters, city workers moved in with street
sweepers and garbage dumpsters and destroyed the tents, blankets, sleeping
bags, medication, I.D’s and other personal possessions of the homeless
people camped outside.
From: blackandred-A-resist.ca
**** [Ed. Note: an antiauthoritarian social class struggle
direct action initiative]

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