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Press release: BCCLA to VPD: Leave the big guns at home for demos

February 19, 2010 1 comment

BCCLA to VPD: Leave the big guns at home for demos

The BCCLA has asked the Vancouver Police Department to stop bringing semi-automatic military weaponry to demonstrations in Vancouver, even where demonstrations present public order issues.

A VPD officer carries a Colt C8 carbine

Video:

2010-02-19 – New VPD Crowd Control Weapon from Legal Observers on Vimeo.

“Even in a scenario like Saturday where a group of protesters engage in illegal property damage, as well as reprehensible violence against police and citizens, the Police were able to restore order without pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, Tasers or handguns,” said Robert Holmes, President of the BCCLA. “Do they really need military grade semi-automatic rifles?”

The BCCLA has monitored police action over a number of major public order events over many years, including the Guns and Roses riot, the so-called “Riot at the Hyatt”, and the Stanley Cup riot. Saturday is the first instance the BCCLA is aware of where military guns have been deployed for civilian crowd control purposes in Vancouver.

“High powered rifles in a stressful situation add to the risk of law enforcement and security measures going seriously wrong,” said Holmes. “The public has not been told of any security threat that would justify the presence of such weaponry. Just as the sonic gun raised controversy last fall, so too the presence of these weapons should be explained and, unless absolutely necessary, they should be withdrawn.”

Vancouver Police Department public order officer Vince Forsberg confirmed that the weapons were deployed to back up Crowd Control Unit police officers who do not carry firearms, and said that he understood them to be “intermediate weapons” designed “to allow an accurate shot at an intermediate range (usually under 100 meters).”

Press release: Police visit media centre, observer office

February 15, 2010 3 comments

British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
February 13, 2010

Police visit media centre, observer office

Vancouver, B.C. – Uniformed members of the Vancouver Police Department and two uniformed members of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) walked through the ground floor of an independent Olympic media centre and tried to enter private offices in the back before being asked to leave by building management.

They did not produce any search warrant and said they had attended to view an art show that was taking place in the building. During their self-guided tour of the W2 Culture and Media House, they entered the technical hub of the building, which services more than 100 journalists and the Legal Observer program for the 2010 Olympics, and appeared to be attempting to access upper floors that host the Observer Program.

“The police are well aware that this space is dedicated to media, and that the Legal Observer office is in this building as well,” said David Eby, Executive Director of the BCCLA. “All of the groups in this space have positive relationships with the police, there is no need for this kind of show of force.”

Officers from the CBSA have been seen at all of the major demonstrations to date by the BCCLA’s legal observers, raising concerns that VISU is using nationality to target particular protesters.

“In light of a number of issues at the border involving those who disagree with the Olympics being detained, harassed or turned back, it’s hardly reassuring that the CBSA is on the front lines policing these protests and visiting media and Observer spaces,” said Eby.

The BCCLA will be sending the details of the incident to the Vancouver Police Department to request a formal explanation.

CBSA and VPD visit media centre uninvited from Legal Observers on Vimeo.

MEDIA CONTACTS:
David Eby, Executive Director, (778) 865-7997
Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, (778) 829-3471

Categories: border, ISU, olympics Tags: , , , , ,