Archive for November, 2007

Vandals break 15 more windows at school

Wawmeesh G. Hamilton, Coquitlam NOW [British Columbia]
Published: Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Vandals broke 15 windows at Montgomery Middle School during the Remembrance Day long weekend, according to the latest figures released by School District 43.

Overall, 26 windows were broken at local schools during the one-week period ending Nov. 14.

“Most of the damage at Montgomery was on the lower floor windows, and a few on the second floor,” said Jim Dueck, the district’s manager of minor repairs.

Last month, 21 windows were reported broken at the school.

The most recent damage occurred at Montgomery Middle over the Remembrance Day weekend, Dueck said, adding that it was reported on Nov. 13 and 14.

Dueck said the district was in the midst of taking steps to thwart vandals when the latest damage occurred.

“We were waiting for ordered screens when this most recent incident happened,” he said. “We got hit before they arrived.”

Montgomery is located off the beaten path, leaving it more susceptible to vandalism than some other schools.

“The school’s in an alcove that isn’t really visible from the street, it’s an unused area,” Dueck said.

Despite the recent flurry of damage at Montgomery Middle, the overall number of broken windows in School District 43 is down considerably from last year.

Dueck said there were 83 broken windows reported in October, down from 113 during the same month last year.

Overall, 988 broken windows have been reported in 2007, down from 1,215 at the same time last year.

“Unless we have a really bad spate, we’ll be down this year,” he said.

While the number of broken windows is down, the amount of graffiti is on the rise — not just in schools, but across the Tri-Cities, Dueck said.

The district’s most recent report showed 19 instances of graffiti reported last week.

Combating it is difficult, Dueck said, especially because of the attitude surrounding it.

“It’s really a silent crime because painting the side of a building makes less noise than breaking a window,” he said.

“Society doesn’t think it’s as important as other issues. You see it every day and I guess you get acclimatized to it.”

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Inside job suspected

Inside job suspected

The Province
Published: Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A North Vancouver man has been charged with theft after allegedly robbing his boss. Police said the owner of a convenience store arrived at work on July 15 and found the safe empty despite there being no sign of forced entry.

Vancouver police later arrested 41-year-old Michael Meller on an unrelated matter and found him with $6,700 cash. He was unable to explain where the cash came from.

The store owner said he had employed Meller for a month to give the man “another chance” and had subsequently given him the safe and security codes.

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Chilliwack man hit by Taser in ‘extremely critical condition’: RCMP
RCMP’s major crime section conducts review of incident

Tuesday, November 20, 2007
CBC News

Investigators are looking into how a Chilliwack, B.C., man ended up in “extremely critical condition” after a confrontation with RCMP officers in which a Taser was used on Monday afternoon.

RCMP said the 36-year-old was agitated and acting erratically when officers arrived at a contractors’ equipment rental store in the 45800 block of Airport Road in Chilliwack. Police had reported on Monday that the man was 29.

“He did sustain laceration to the head area in his struggle with police, however, the exact reason for his current condition is not known at this time,” Lower Mainland District Assistant Commander Peter German said in a news release Tuesday.

The man remains in “extremely critical condition” in Chilliwack General Hospital’s intensive care unit, he said.

Investigators have contacted his family. The man’s name is not being released at their request.

The RCMP major crime section has taken over the investigation from the Chilliwack RCMP serious crime unit and is conducting a review of the incident “because of the possibility that the police use of force could be a factor in the subject’s medical injuries,” German said.

Investigators are looking at events prior to the police response, the actions of the police officers, the behaviour and medical state of the man, and witness accounts, he said.

Witness says man involved in hit-and-run accident

Sherry Kassian told CBC News on Tuesday that she saw the man’s grey pickup truck hit another car and drive away.

“When the green light came, he just weaved right in front of the two lanes and he headed down Airport Road,” Kassian said.

“I knew there was something funny about him and I was going to follow him until I knew exactly where he was going to land.”

Kassian said she called police immediately.

The owner of the rental shop, Eze Rent-It Centre, who doesn’t want to be named, said when the man was accused of hitting another car he became agitated.

Police said the man became combative and aggressive when two officers arrived. They tried to subdue him using pepper spray, batons, and then a Taser gun, police said.

Terry Thody, who lives near the shop, said the man was carried out on a stretcher and there was blood everywhere.

“His face was visibly bruised and his clothing covered in blood and he was restrained by a nylon strap on the stretcher,” Thody told CBC News.

Police said the man was still conscious when he was taken to hospital.

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B.C. Mounties face growing public outrage
Residents acting ‘very aggressively’ toward national police force in wake of airport taser death

From Monday’s Globe and Mail
November 19, 2007 at 2:00 AM EST

VANCOUVER — A wave of public anger about the death of Robert Dziekanski is washing over the RCMP in the Lower Mainland, with upset Canadians berating officers at the airport and at the nearby Richmond detachment – and even throwing eggs at one police cruiser.

Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass, commanding officer for the RCMP in British Columbia, told The Globe and Mail that members of the public have been acting “very aggressively” toward officers since Mr. Dziekanski’s death a month ago.

The 40-year-old Polish man died within minutes of being tasered repeatedly at Vancouver International Airport, where he had spent hours wandering in a vain search from his mother. Four officers, responding to a report of a man with erratic behaviour destroying property, entered the international arrivals area in the early morning of Oct. 14, and tasered Mr. Dziekanski less than 30 seconds later.

A bystander captured the episode on digital video, with the disturbing 10 minutes of footage showing Mr. Dziekanski screaming and writhing before being pinned down and handcuffed, and then lapsing into unconsciousness. The public release of that video last week has sparked controversy around the world, particularly in Poland, whose ambassador called the RCMP’s actions “unsuitable under the circumstances, even excessive.”

Deputy Commissioner Bass disclosed Sunday that the four officers involved in the incident – one a relatively senior corporal, the other three with one to three years’ experience – were reassigned to office duties two days after the Oct. 14 incident, in part to guarantee their personal safety. “They’re doing work that doesn’t require them to be in front-line duties,” he said.

Such a move is not standard practice, he said, but was judged to be a prudent step. “In this case, obviously, the amount of public reaction to the incident is of concern to us, including the fact that there have been a lot of very negative reaction to the members – all the members – at Richmond, very confrontational. So, it’s essentially for two reasons. It’s for the officers’ own safety, as well as, you know, to address the concerns that are being voiced.”

RCMP Commissioner William Elliott, in a statement issued Saturday, offered the force’s condolences on the day a memorial service was held for Mr. Dziekanski in Kamloops, where his mother lives. Commissioner Elliott went on to write that he had been avoiding comment during an active investigation. “I recognize, however, that the RCMP cannot provide effective policing services without the support of the communities we serve and I am concerned that growing misperceptions are eroding the public’s confidence in the RCMP.”

There have not been any physical confrontations between members of the public and RCMP officers, said Deputy Commissioner Bass, but many Canadians have been repeating critical comments from media reports including a Globe editorial last Friday that said Mr. Dziekanski’s death amounted to a “summary execution.”

Staff Sergeant Ken Legge, of the RCMP’s staff relations representative program, said he had not heard of any such incidents elsewhere in the country, adding that the reassignment of officers involved in a death-in-custody is “not abnormal.”

Deputy Commissioner Bass issued a separate statement on Saturday offering his condolences to the Dziekanski family, on behalf of the B.C. division. He also said in the statement that the Ontario Provincial Police have been asked to provide an “external and independent view” of the investigation by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT).

There have also been internal discussions about whether to continue using tasers, Deputy Commissioner Bass said. “We’ve talked long and hard about that,” he said, adding that the short-term choice came down to a complete ban or a continuation of current policy because any intermediate step would require extensive training.

The IHIT investigation is one of several inquiries launched in the wake of Mr. Dziekanski’s death, with the B.C. coroner and the chairman of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP each conducting examinations of the matter. The federal Public Security department also has a review under way, the Canadian Police Centre will launch a new study of taser technology and procedures, and British Columbia has asked the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police to examine the appropriate use of tasers.

But Murray Mollard, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said none of these reviews are by an independent body with the power to assign blame.

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Student protest disrupts Montreal Stock Exchange

Shuyee Lee
CJAD News Radio, Nov 16, 2007

Montreal students protesting the lifting of the tuition freeze took their grievances to an easy target symbolizing capitalism.

The Stock Exchange Tower was the latest site of the student protests that began Monday.

Workers there had trouble getting to their job in the morning.

Several dozen anti-tuition student protestors caused a ruckus there, blocking access to the building.

Workers spent the morning repairing and moving back benches that were blocking elevators; picket signs, empty coffee cups and water bottles littered the floor, a disorderly sight greeting workers at the building.

“Omigod, I didn’t see that , I can’t believe it.”

This Nortel worker, like others, had trouble getting in.

“They wouldn’t let me in the meeting, I had a meeting, and they wouldn’t let me in the building.”

Students left peacefully on their own. Police made no arrests.

Student spokesman Christian Pépin denies there was damage after they moved the benches around, saying their protest was non-violent and did the job sending their message.

“It was something that was not in the order of the law, but it was a legitimate action.”

Some workers think differently.

“It’s not the right way to send a message.”

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Quebec students to continue fight against tuition hike
Quebec college and university students say they’re ready to ramp up fight against $50 tuition hike

Wednesday, November 14, 2007
CBC News

Students in Quebec say they’ll continue to protest tuition fee increases despite what they call unprecedented police repression.

Pepper spray and Taser guns won’t stop students from fighting the province’s $50-a-semester tuition fee hike, said the association representing college and university students (ASSE), which is spearheading widespread strikes this week.

More than 100 students who barricaded themselves inside post-secondary institution CEGEP Vieux-Montréal on Tuesday night to protest tuition hikes were arrested despite what ASSE said was a peaceful action.

Students built a towering barricade in front of the Ontario Street college with chairs, plywood, vending machines and a toilet, but refused to leave the premises until police arrived.

ASSE spokesman Hubert Gendron-Blais said police called to the scene used cayenne pepper spray and Taser guns to break up the demonstration, even though students were not acting violently.

Officers arrested 102 students, who were booked on charges, including public mischief, assault and battery, and armed assault, before being released.

No one was injured during the overnight protest, but police said the CEGEP property was damaged.

CEGEPs and university students are planning widespread protests across the province this week to protest a tuition fee increase.

Students in Montreal, Quebec City and Sherbrooke plan to take part in a three-day strike.

Education Minister Michelle Courchesne said the $50-a-semester tuition increase is non-negotiable.

On Wednesday, she called it a very reasonable increase, adding the government topped up student financial aid programs to offset the rise in tuition.

Students should be in class, not on strike, Courchesne said.

On Monday, police was called twice to the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) to break up strikers who barricaded themselves inside the school around 11:30 p.m.

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Linamar – Nestle: Out of Guelph!

[Published on news.infoshop.org, Saturday, November 10, 2007]

In the early morning of November 8th, a group of anarchists went up the water tower closest to the downtown area in Guelph, Ontario. We proceeded to paint both sides of the tower in large legible letters: “LINAMAR – NESTLE GET OUT OF GUELPH,” using the letters spelling GUELPH already found on the sides of the water tower.

On the following night of November 9th, we rode up to the gated house of the Hassenfratz family. In the phone book the address is under Frank Hassenfratz’s name, but many sources have led us to think that Linda Hassenfratz lives there. We could care less which of their homes we visited because Frank is the Chief of the Board (COB) of the Linamar Corporation, and Linda is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Linamar.

We shut the gates that lead up to their home with a thick chain and mammoth-sized lock. We spray painted the walls surrounding their personal lives with messages like “Water not for sale” and “Linamar out of Guelph”. We hope that their day tomorrow will be ruined, like their conspiring schemes in the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) plan to ruin our lives.

Linamar, a member of the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC) and Linda its CEO, meets behind closed doors with politicians such as George Bush, Stephen Harper and Jose Calderon. Their plans, among other projects, comprise of bulk water exports. Seeing as how the water we drink is already being sucked out by the Nestle Corporation at the expense of those whose wells are drying up and whose water is being sold off to accommodate the thirst of the bourgeois city dwellers, which already have had their water polluted and exhausted by the capitalist system. We see Linamar, Stephen Harper, the Hassenfratz and other NACC members in the same light that we see Nestle: the thieves that continue to reduce our lives and drinkable water into commodities that can be manipulated in the interests of Capital.

If these fools believe they can continue their process of dispossession and exploitation unscathed, they are terribly wrong.

Our message to oppressors like Linamar and Nestle is clear:

Let us make this a reality.

-Your Personal Admirers.

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Spike in emergency calls on Halloween

Simone Blais, Coquitlam NOW [British Columbia]
Published: Friday, November 02, 2007

Halloween hooliganism swamped emergency responders with calls, keeping police, fire and ambulance staff busy Wednesday night.

The Port Moody Police Department responded to 28 calls, mostly relating to firecrackers, disturbances and altercations. Some pertained to public drunkenness, which led to several arrests.

Acting Sgt. Phil Reid said no serious problems were recorded during Halloween festivities.

“The department always takes special measures by adding more manpower to complement the working squad during the occasion of Halloween,” Reid said in a news release.

“This action is done so that young trick-or-treaters can enjoy going door-to-door accepting their treats from welcoming neighbours.”

Deputy Chief Gord Parker said firefighters from Port Moody Fire and Rescue responded to several medical calls, but the lone fire of the night transpired at around 10 p.m., when a resident called about an incident at Seaview Elementary.

“We responded and the crews on scene responded and reported what appeared to be a Molotov cocktail,” Parker said. “There were broken glass and rags around.”

The school wasn’t damaged, and police are investigating the incident, Parker said.

“There were lots of people out and about, and there were fireworks being active. Fire-wise, it was quiet. Hopefully people are getting the message,” he said.

Deputy Chief Al Dutton with Coquitlam Fire and Rescue said the department received 31 calls on Oct. 31, with 19 coming in after 6 p.m. The bulk of the calls, he said, pertained to dumpster fires and medical issues, although a vehicle fire in the 4100 block of Cedar Drive totalled a car.

Coquitlam RCMP’s Const. Brenda Gresiuk said police received 126 calls, which isn’t out of the ordinary.

“It’s not really that big of a call load,” she said. “One hundred and 26 calls for service is pretty average for a Friday or Saturday night.”

With the calls pertaining mostly to noise complaints and drunks, Gresiuk attributed the drop in serious events to police and parent presence on the streets.

“We had high volume calls for noise complaints, those kinds of things, but nothing out of the ordinary,” she said.

“They were busy. We had the volunteers out, so we didn’t have any lost children or anything like that, no fires, house parties, nothing like that.”

Port Coquitlam Fire and Emergency Services Capt. Steve Wright said the number of calls made to the department was “considerably less than in past years,” which he attributed to public education programs and fireworks bylaw changes.

“The RCMP were busy with teenagers around Citadel Middle School and Terry Fox school, but overall Halloween night was quiet,” Wright said in a news release, adding that the department responded to a total of eight calls, “dealing with several mischief container fires.”

The department also checked up on several people setting off fireworks, and determined that all had taken out city permits and were lighting the fireworks with adults present.

“Education and fireworks bylaw changes seem to have made an impact this year with a safer Halloween night observed throughout our community,” Wright said.

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Teenage girls assault bus driver on Halloween night, bus torched

Frank Luba, The Province
Published: Friday, November 02, 2007

Halloween was a true fright night for a Coast Mountain Bus Company driver who was assaulted by a group of youths and had her million-dollar trolley vandalized and set on fire in east Vancouver.

Coast Mountain spokesman Doug McDonald said the driver, who was in her probationary period with just four to six months of service, suffered a bump to her head. She didn’t have to be hospitalized, but needed a peer counsellor after the attack.

She was off work yesterday.

“To have an assault like this is extremely unusual and very concerning,” said McDonald. “I just hope this employee can deal with this and it won’t affect the way she does her job.”

The assault is the 207th incident to date this year compared with 243 last year and 183 in 2005.

Although the bus is insured, McDonald said it could be written off as unfit for service. “It suffered extensive damage,” he said of the bus’s broken windows and graffiti. The fire caused the brakes on the bus to lock, making it impossible to tow.

Vancouver police are probing the incident, which began at about 10:30 p.m. when the driver pulled up to a stop on Commercial Drive at Napier Street.

The driver offered Halloween candy to a group of youths who boarded. After she tossed them the candy, two teen girls pulled her from the bus and assaulted her before fleeing north on Commercial. McDonald said reports from the scene indicated the driver was rescued by bus passengers.

Emergency Health Services were called and took the driver to the Vancouver Transit Centre.

But some time between 11 p.m. and midnight, before Coast Mountain could get another driver to resume the route, somebody vandalized the bus and set it on fire.

McDonald said material commonly used to light a fire was found inside the bus.

Because trolleys are used in so few cities in North America, getting a replacement could be difficult.

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‘Right Away They Tasered Him’
‘Before they even got to him,’ cops keen to stun distraught immigrant

by Lena Sin
Friday, November 02, 2007
The Province

Zofia Cisowski, Robert Dziekanski’s grieving mother, weeps beside pictures of her dead son at a press conference called by the Canadian Polish Congress last week.

The young man who filmed the final minutes of 40-year-old Robert Dziekanski’s life has given a disturbing account of what he believes was a preventable Taser death.

Paul Pritchard, 25, was on his way home to Victoria when he happened to witness an RCMP officer shoot Dziekanski with a Taser gun at Vancouver International Airport on Oct. 13.

Pritchard, an English teacher in China, said police appeared to have made the decision to Taser before they even got near the man to assess the situation.

“The first step was to Taser him and it seemed that step was taken before they even got to him,” Pritchard said yesterday.

Pritchard said he was in the public area of the international arrivals section at the airport when he noticed the Polish immigrant acting strangely, pacing back and forth and banging on a glass door in a bid to re-enter the arrivals area.

Dziekanski eventually got through the glass doors, at which point Pritchard started filming him with his Sony digital camera.

While some people in the area tried to help the clearly-confused Dziekanski, others tried to use a public phone to call for a translator, but the phone was not in service, said Pritchard.

Meanwhile, others called for airport security. Two people even went searching for security personnel, said Pritchard.

It took 25 to 30 minutes before two security men arrived, followed a minute later by “three big police officers,” recalled Pritchard.

“I heard, ‘Can I or should I Taser him?’ before they even got to Mr. Dziekanski. Right away they Tasered him.”

Police then struggled to handcuff a screaming Dziekanski, who by now was on the floor. Dziekanski became unconscious about a minute later, said Pritchard.

Police immediately called “Code Red” and paramedics arrived about five to eight minutes later — a time period that Pritchard believes was too long.

Pritchard said that in the 25 minutes prior to security and police arriving, at least five people — including women — went up to Dziekanski to offer help.

Although he was clearly distressed and behaving strangely by picking up random items, “none of us felt threatened at any time. This was a man who was definitely confused. We weren’t scared — women were going right up to him.”

Pritchard’s account is in stark contrast to that given by the RCMP, who said Dziekanski had been behaving violently and erratically in the international arrivals area and they were unable to calm him.

Pritchard said he wants the public to view his video to put to rest the numerous questions surrounding the death.

But his video is in the hands of the RCMP. When Pritchard turned it over to police, they promised to return it within 48 hours. Later they told him it could be one to two years before he got it back.

“There’s a clear image of what happened — so why are they hiding it?” said Pritchard, who’s now suing the Mounties in an effort to get his video back.

Pritchard’s comments yesterday at a Victoria press conference triggered a war of words with the RCMP, who hours later called their own press conference in Vancouver at which Cpl. Dale Carr, spokesman for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, said Pritchard can have his video back in seven to 10 days.

Carr disputed Pritchard’s sworn statement that investigators told him it would take one to two years for the return of the footage.

Carr had said earlier this week that the video was being held by police because its release might taint other witness testimony.

At the time, its release “would’ve biased future witnesses,” he said. “We’ve taken care of interviewing all witnesses now.”

Carr said it is not standard practice to release evidence while an investigation is ongoing. But he said the coroner’s office has advised the RCMP that it was appropriate to do so in this case.

Paul Pearson, Pritchard’s lawyer, said he intends to continue the civil suit against police in B.C. Supreme Court in Victoria this morning.

“We’re going to consider this closed when we either have the video back or when we get a binding agreement,” said Pearson.

Pritchard said he’s gone through a “varied” range of emotions “from witnessing a man’s life being taken away to . . . the realization that it could’ve been preventable.”

Carr refused to comment yesterday on the circumstances that led to police Tasering Dziekanski.

Dziekanski, who spoke no English, flew to Vancouver Oct. 13 to immigrate to Canada and join his mother in Kamloops.

Dziekanski’s mother, Zofia Cisowski, was too distraught to comment publicly yesterday.

“She buried her only son [Wednesday],” said a friend. “She’s devastated, absolutely devastated.”

IHIT is “investigating the event” and gathering evidence for a coroner’s inquest, as is mandatory in all police custody deaths. Carr said a decision will be made by an independent investigator at a later date on whether a criminal investigation is warranted.

The three police officers involved are still on full active duty.

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