Archive for February, 2008

Olympics Welcome to Vancouver signs paintbombed

[Posted by anonymous on February 27, 2008, at friendsofgrassynarrows.com]

26 February 2008 Coast Salish Territories (Vancouver)

Three olympic Welcome to Vancouver signs (at the southern highway entrances to Vancouver) were attacked with paintbombs. The presence of the olympics in our city makes us sick. Its signs and symbols litter the city, it speeds up gentrification, and is an insult to native peoples. We hope that the IOC (International Olympic Committee) president feels unwelcome and the resistance to the olympics continues to spread.

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Student walkout Tuesday

By Robert Mangelsdorf – Maple Ridge News [British Columbia] – February 23, 2008

Students across Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows plan to walk out of school on Tuesday, March 4 to protest the district’s switch to a co-ordinated linear timetable, but the organizer of an earlier rally wants nothing to do with it.

A group on the social networking website Facebook, titled “SD42 District Kids Protest For Scedule [sic] Changes!” calls for students to protest the switch to a coordinated linear timetable across the district by staging a sit-in at the school district office, 22295 Brown Ave. in Maple Ridge, at 8:30 a.m. March 4.

School board chair Cheryl Ashlie said, while the district supports the students right to protest, it is also responsible for their safety, and wishes the students would protest on their own time.

“These situations create a no-win situation for school administrators,” she said. “If they allow events like this to take place, then they’re endangering the students, and if they don’t allow the events, they’re crushing their democratic rights.”

Ashlie said given the reaction to the timetable changes, a second public consultation might be held to address some of the students concerns.

“If you’re going to ask a bunch of people to follow you, you’d better know what you’re talking about,” she said.

The group is organized by a pair of Garibaldi students, Genaya Grasby and Kandace Turmel, and already has more than 200 members.

On the website, the group states that, “[N]ext year every school in our district is going to be on the same scedule [sic]. Recently, SRT had a protest because of wanting to keep their [sic] semester system. Baldi wants to do the same, because we like our block orders…If you don’t agree with all of SD42 being the same, take a stand with us and protest!”

But the organizer of the protest at Samuel Robertson Technical says, while she supports the cause, she wants nothing to do with the event and won’t be attending.

“They are basically saying to everyone that it’s OK to skip school, and I don’t support that,” said Teesha Sharma, a 16-year-old student at SRT. “I respect what they are trying to do, but they really need to rethink their approach.”

Sharma was recently removed from her school’s student council, as well as the district student advisory council, and barred from planning any school events for her part in organizing a lunchtime protest that got out of control on Feb. 8. The protest was over the district’s timetable change.

However, shortly after the rally started, a number of unruly students led the group of about 250 Grade 11 and 12s off of school grounds, despite Sharma’s efforts to stop them. The students then disrupted traffic and pelted vehicles with fruit while marching down 104th Avenue.

Sharma failed to enter the school when told to do so by an administrator.

She believes the school administration was heavy handed in punishing her.

“They basically took away everything that I love,” she said. “I take full responsibility for my actions and I’m empathetic with [the administration’s] position, but I think they just handled this whole situation poorly.”

On Thursday, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Michael Sather gave a speech in the provincial legislature in support of Sharma’s right to protest, and encouraged the school’s administration to reverse its decision.

“Rather than suspending Teesha for a couple of days, the administration chose to take her lifeblood connection to the school from her,” he told the legislative assembly.

“Our schools function to train students to be leaders. We must do everything to encourage these qualities in our youth. We must not crush them, but must nourish them in contributing to their community. I hope that the school will reinstate Teesha, that she can finish her Grade 12 on the high note that it should be ending on and that she will go on to be a great leader in our society.”

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Lockdown, visitor ban continue at Millhaven Institution near Kingston, Ont.

Published: Friday, February 22, 2008
Canadian Press

KINGSTON, [Ontario] – Millhaven Institution, west of Kingston, Ont., remains in lockdown status one week after some incidents involving unruly prisoners.

A staff member was assaulted by a prisoner last Friday but was able to return to work the next day after receiving medical treatment.

Other incidents include fires being set in a maximum-security area and a weapon being found in the kitchen.

The Institutional Emergency Response Team was brought in to help return things to normal.

Authorities are restricting inmate activities and banning visitors from the maximum-security prison until the investigations are complete.

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Six men charged in prison riot

By Monisha Martins – Maple Ridge News [British Columbia] – February 22, 2008

Six men charged in connection with a riot at a Maple Ridge prison last August remain in custody.

The men were among 31 inmates at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre who caused extensive damage to a living unit in the prison last year.

Donald Addley and Cash Vansanten have been charged with forcible prison break with intent to free themselves.

The pair, as well as Matt Conley, Peter Pete, Kyle Vaugan and Johnny Nguyen, also faces one count each of taking part in a riot.

Conley has also been charged with uttering threats.

Documents filed at the court registry show that Addley entered a guilty plea to the charges on Wednesday and has already been sentenced to five years in prison.

The others are scheduled to appear in court for bail hearings at the end of the month.

The charges stem from a riot at the prison on 256th Street that took three correctional tactical unit and 12 members of the RCMP’s emergency response team four hours to quell.

B.C. Corrections reported that 10 cells and a guard’s office were damaged during the incident.

It was the first of two riots at the provincial prison in the past six months.

B.C. Corrections is still investigating the latest riot, which happened on Feb. 9. No charges have been laid.

In that riot, 31 inmates housed in the remand section started destroying their cell block.

The incident started when three inmates refused to be transferred out of the block.

As the incident escalated, other inmates started small fires, broke windows, dislodged sinks and toilets, and kicked through doors, almost breaching a second cell block on the floor.

The prison was built in 1990 for 254 inmates. The facility is currently 72 over capacity, with most of the inmates doubled-bunked, two to a cell.

Next year, the facility will expand by 135 cells, to 389 from 254, requiring an addition to the building.

Construction is due to start in February 2009 and be complete by December 2010.

In the meantime, temporary housing for 100 inmates will be complete by May. That will be in the form of a large tent, as used in some U.S. prisons.

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Vandals target city’s newest hotel; opening not delayed

February 15, 2008

GUELPH [Ontario]

Quick action prevented vandalism from marring Tuesday’s opening of Guelph’s newest hotel.

The Delta Guelph Hotel and Conference Centre was vandalized early Tuesday when someone smashed the glass of the main entrance door and adjacent windows, causing $1,500 damage, Guelph Police reported Wednesday.

A security guard notified police shortly before 4 a.m.

“Very disappointing,” hotel general manager Alan Boivin said yesterday, describing the incident.

But he added an area glass company replaced the damaged pieces by noon.

“We were very well taken care of,” Boivin said. “We were able to clean it up in time.

At 3 p.m., on schedule, the hotel opened its bar lounge and welcomed its first guest, Boivin said.

Guelph Police spokesperson Sergeant Cate Welsh said bricks were used to smash the glass, though it appears no entry was gained.

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RBC Targeted Again

Ottawa Anarchists, 14.02.2008
[Published at ottawa.indymedia.org]

Another attack on RBC, corporate sponsor and accomplice to the genocide and ecocide perpetrated by VANOC and the various levels of Canadian government.

On the night of February 12th, 2008, bricks found their way through the windows of a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada. The branch targeted is located at Bank St. and First Ave. in the Glebe neighbourhood of Ottawa. This action – on the 2 year mark before the 2010 Olympics – was done in solidarity with the ongoing struggle against all sponsors of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver-Whistler, BC.

It is part of the No 2010 campaign which opposes the Olympic Games on stolen land, the final “ratification” of the Security and Prosperity Partnership, and the G-8, all of which are planned to hit Canada in that year. It is done in solidarity with the struggle of First Nations in Coast Salish and the rest of Turtle Island against clolonial genocide. It is in solidarity with Vancouver’s homeless, who are being relocated in a process of gentrification. It is in solidarity with all those who fight the ongoing ecocide perpetrated by VANOC and its corporate sponsors, including the RBC.

We will continue targeting corporations that support this genocide and ecocide.

We say scrap the SPP;
Down with the G-8; and
Fuck the Corporate Circus!!!

RIOT 2010!

– Ottawa Anarchists.

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Taxi drivers angered by mayor’s remarks

Jake Rupert , The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Anger verging on violence erupted at city hall Wednesday after taxi drivers interpreted remarks from Mayor Larry O’Brien as disrespectful.

Just before council voted to maintain its requirement for all taxis to have security cameras installed by July 1, Mr. O’Brien said for him, the matter is primarily a question of public safety – and driver safety second.

This prompted outrage and shouts of “f— you” as about 60 drivers filed out of council chambers before the vote was taken.

Union leader Yusef Al Mezel immediately called the remarks demeaning and insensitive and accused the mayor of treating cab drivers as “second-class citizens” during a heated moment outside council chambers, while several police officers looked on.

“This is too much,” Mr. Al Mezel said. “We are hard-working taxpayers, and they are treating us like criminals.”

Mr. Al Mezel and other union leaders said the camera decision, which will cost each car owner $1,500, will contribute to an expected strike in the spring. They say contract talks with Blue Line, the city’s largest cab company, are going poorly, and the drivers are fed up with the company and the city’s management of the industry.

After the vote, Mr. O’Brien said he didn’t mean any disrespect. He said his meaning was that the cameras would protect the public and drivers equally and apologized for “any confusion” his comments may have caused.

But by that point, the drivers said, they were beyond apologies. They said they will not install the cameras, and if the city wants to try to punish them or take their licences, the city will have a fight on its hands.

Taxi drivers and company owners say the cost of the cameras is too much. They also say the city has left the door open for invading drivers’ privacy by not guaranteeing any information collected by the cameras would only be used in criminal investigations.


Cabbies threaten no fair, no fare

Drivers vow to strike unless city reverses decision on security cameras

Ottawa Sun [Ontario]
Thu, February 14, 2008

Ottawa’s cab drivers stormed out of a city council meeting yesterday angry, disgusted and threatening to strike.

Seconds before council voted to force taxi drivers to have security cameras installed in all city-licensed cabs by July 2, about 100 drivers stood up and walked out.

They were offended by a comment made by Mayor Larry O’Brien.

“The key issue in terms of my decision-making related to public safety, of secondary issue was the safety of the drivers,” said O’Brien.

It was after that comment the drivers left the meeting.

Yousef Al Mezel, president of Canadian Auto Workers Union Local 1688, led the charge out of council chambers, yelling he didn’t appreciate being called a second-class citizen.

“We are taxpayers and we should be respected,” said Al Mezel. “We should be respected in that chamber.”

On scene all day, members of the police tactical unit and patrol officers stood close by as taxi drivers began to protest loudly through the corridors of city hall.

“He’s a racist,” yelled one driver.


“He’s calling us second-class citizens. We are not. We are taxpayers,” yelled another.

Al Mezel also questioned why so many police were stationed at City Hall.

“They think we are criminals,” he said.

As taxi drivers left City Hall, they said they wouldn’t respect any bylaw that forced them to install cameras in their vehicles and repeatedly threatened to go on strike.

“The whole city will be shut down,” said Al Mezel. “We will not accept this and we will take action. We will not install the cameras.”

O’Brien attempted to clarify his comments after the drivers left and said he’s concerned with the public safety of all citizens, including drivers.

“I don’t know how they could have taken my comments otherwise,” he said. “There are benefits for passengers and drivers.”


O’Brien was also quick to point out that the night before the vote, a cab driver was assaulted and robbed by two men who then stole his vehicle and that if a security camera was installed the crime might have been prevented.

Mohamed Alsadi, national representative for CAW Local 462, said the mayor’s remark was regrettable and a strike is a possibility.

“It’s very real,” he said, and added there is $70 million in the union’s strike fund. “If I tell you it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen,” he said.

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Delta Hotel Attacked on Opening Day in Guelph!

[Posted by anonymous to friendsofgrassynarrows.com on February 12th, 2008]

In the early morning of February the 12th, the opening day of the newly built Delta Hotel at Stone rd and Gordon, six large windows on the main entrance of the Hotel were smashed.

Delta Hotels are appearing wherever yuppie developpment is booming.

They are feeding off of the Olympic excitement to cash in on the development of territories while returning nothing to the local inhabitants. From the Sun Peaks resort on Secwepmec territory, to the gentrification of Guelph Ontario, Delta Hotels are one of many capitalists making a profit from the lives and lands of others.

We encourage everyone to launch an uncompromising assault against the olympics, colonialism and the State Capitalism that produces them!

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No security camera? No licence, mayor tells taxi drivers

Tuesday, February 12, 2008
CBC News

Ottawa taxi drivers are taking a big risk if they refuse to install security cameras inside their taxis, said Mayor Larry O’Brien.

“They risk having their licences lifted,” he said Tuesday after a meeting between the city and the taxi union. “That’s a big investment, and I don’t think the owners of the licences will take that risk.”

The meeting at city hall followed a demonstration against bylaw requiring the cameras to be installed in all city taxis by July 2.

Hundreds of Blueline, Capital and DJ’s taxis honked their horns and clogged the streets of Ottawa during the protest beginning at 10 a.m. and wound slowly from Coventry and Belfast roads toward city hall. The protest was organized by Canadian Auto Workers Local 1688, which represents the taxi drivers.

Before the protest, Yusuf Al Mezel, president of taxi drivers union, said the drivers will not allow the cameras to be installed in their cars this July.

“These cameras will not be installed in our cars without our consent and without our consultation,” he said, adding that drivers were not asked to weigh in on the bylaw or even the type of security camera that would be installed.

The drivers have voiced concerns about their privacy and that of their passengers as well as the price of cameras, which are $1,500 each and are being obtained by the city through a single-source contract with Toronto-based VerifEye Technologies.

Al Mezel said the drivers did their own investigation and found they could get security cameras for half that price.

The taxi drivers plan to demonstrate again Wednesday between 9 and 11 a.m., leading up to a city council meeting. Ottawa police issued a warning to drivers Tuesday afternoon, telling them to expect traffic delays.

At the council meeting, councillors are to discuss whether to extend the deadline by which taxi drivers must comply with the bylaw. The city also said it will look into further changes to taxi fares to help drivers pay for the cameras.

O’Brien said the city will also consult with Ontario’s privacy commissioner to address the cabbies’ concerns.

Council approved the bylaw requiring the cameras in September 2005. Since then, the city has allowed drivers to collect a five cent surcharge on each fare and the difference between seven per cent and the reduced GST to cover the cost of the cameras, said city spokesman Barre Campbell.

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Second riot at crowded jail

Amy Steele, The Times
[Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, British Columbia]
Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A prisoner waves a towel out a window at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre Saturday. It was the second riot in six months at the Maple Ridge facility.
Carmine Marinelli/TIMES

Angry prisoners set fires, broke windows and smashed up their cells during a riot at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre on Saturday. It was the second riot that has occurred at the jail within the last six months. Inmates suffered minor injuries during the riot.

“It was a full-scale riot. There was a lot of damage,” said Dean Purdy, chair of the corrections and sheriffs branch of the B.C. Government Employees’ Union.

The incident was related to the transfer of three inmates to another jail, said Lisa Lapointe, spokesperson for B.C. Corrections.

“They weren’t happy about being transferred and became quite agitated. Then the rest of the inmates became agitated,” said Lapointe.

The riot involved 31 inmates who were in the remand unit, awaiting trial. The unit was originally designed for 20 people. The riot began around 10 a.m. on February 9 and police and corrections tactical teams regained control of the prison at around 2 p.m. The RCMP’s Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team, Ridge Meadows RCMP, the Maple Ridge Fire Department, BC Ambulance and B.C. Corrections tactical units arrived to quell the riot. B.C. Corrections and Ridge Meadows RCMP will be conducting a joint investigation into the incident.

“It’s unusual,” said Lapointe when asked to comment on the fact that there have been two riots in six months at FRCC. “We aren’t seeing a pattern. It’s one of those funny things. We’ve had a couple of disturbances at Fraser since August and hopefully we won’t see anything for another two or three years.”

Lapointe said at this point it doesn’t look like the two incidents had any similar triggers.

She said B.C. Corrections has implemented all the recommendations made after an investigation into last August’s riot.

“We look at the big picture and try to sort out why this happened. Is there anything we could’ve done differently to prevent the outcome, because it’s not something we like to see at our centres,” said Lapointe.

Ridge Meadows RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Ryan Schlecker said it’s too early to say whether charges will be laid in relation to the incident.

“We’re looking at video, talking to staff and interviewing prisoners to determine what happened,” he said. “It’s a question of just conducting an appropriate investigation.”

Some media outlets reported that hostages were taken during the riot. Lapointe said inmates threatened to do so during the incident but didn’t.

Councillor Ken Stewart, Maple Ridge council liaison to the prison, was at the scene Saturday. He said there was some fear that prisoners had steel bars they could use as weapons prior to police and corrections officers entering the prison. But he said as soon as the law enforcement team went into the prison there was no resistance from prisoners.

“I wouldn’t be concerned as a resident. At no time was there ever a concern of a perimeter breach,” said Stewart, adding there was also no threat to staff because they were outside the two units where the riot was taking place.

The B.C. Government Employees’ Union has raised concerns for months about overcrowding in prisons leading to unsafe conditions for inmates and staff.

“I don’t know how much effect the crowding had or didn’t have,” said Stewart. “There’s all kinds of issues in workplaces with staffing. I suspect B.C. Corrections isn’t immune to that. My understanding is there’s a challenge with over-time and that because they don’t have as many people being recruited as in the past.”

Stewart said the remand unit of the jail, where the riot occurred, contains prisoners who might end up in the federal prison system after they are sentenced.

“There could be people getting some really serious time,” he said.

Mayor Gord Robson said, “We’re all concerned that everything up there be run properly.”

“We think generally it is,” said Robson. “There was no danger to the public as far as I understand it… I think overcrowding probably has something to do with it. I think the expansion that will be going ahead will probably help that somewhat.”

The provincial government recently announced it would be adding 135 new cells to FRCC. It currently has 254 cells and, on average, about 470 inmates.

However, Robson is concerned that Maple Ridge police and firefighters have had to respond to two riots in six months and the municipality pays their salaries.

“If that were to continue I think we’d be looking for them to reimburse the taxpayers of Maple Ridge,” he said.

At a Monday council workshop meeting Councillor Craig Speirs questioned why a second riot has happened in such a short period.

“Once is fine, but a second time? I think now we have to pay a little more attention,” he said. “The community really needs answers about what is happening.”

Speirs said he wants council to see a copy of the investigation report after it’s completed.

Councillor Ken Stewart told council Monday that after the last riot he and RCMP Inspector Jim Wakely met with the FRCC warden who updated them on the investigation findings. He said that will likely occur again and he will tell council what he learns.


B.C. prison remains in lockdown after riot

Sunday, February 10, 2008
CBC News

Calm has been restored at a maximum-security prison in B.C. following a riot by about 30 prisoners on Saturday.

A tactical team ended the disturbance at the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge without serious injuries, a union spokesman for prison guards said Sunday.

“A riot inside a maximum security prison is very frightening and scary. It’s a very dangerous situation,” Dean Purdy, a spokesman for the B.C. Government Employees Union, told the CBC’s Leslie Pritchard.

The RCMP said it appeared some prisoners were upset they were being transferred to another facility.

While there have been complaints of overcrowding at the facility, it’s not known whether that played a part in the angry confrontation. Purdy said the prison has a capacity of 430 inmates but held 65 more than that Saturday.

At one point during the riot, prisoners could be seen breaking windows and throwing objects to other inmates in the yard below. Inmates took other inmates hostage and two small fires were started.

The uprising started about 10 a.m. local time and ended four hours later with prisoners either being put back in their cells or arrested by police.

Ambulance and fire crews were called to the prison as a precaution, but the police spokesman said neither service was necessary.

Both the RCMP and correctional centre officials will be investigating the cause of the disturbance.


FRCC inmates injured during disturbance

Maple Ridge News [British Columbia]
February 09, 2008


Prisoners at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre make obsene jestures and wave white towels out the windows after a disturbance at the provincial facility in Maple Ridge on Saturday.
Colleen Flanagan/Black Press

Some inmates suffered minor injuries during a disturbance at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre on Saturday.

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows RCMP were called to the provincial prison on 256th Street in Maple Ridge at around 10 a.m. after a report of violence involving 31 prisoners.

According to a report by News 1130 Radio, some inmates had taken others hostage. Wooden legs of beds were being used as weapons, and two fires were set.

The incident apparently started when one inmate refused to be transferred.

The RCMP Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team was also called. The Maple Ridge fire department and B.C. Ambulance Service also attended, as did Coquitlam and Mission RCMP, who helped respond to other calls for service during the day.

The RCMP Lower Mainland Tactical Squad was contacted, but was later determined not to be needed.

The prisoners were contained in two units after the RCMP Emergency Response Team entered the prison at 1:46 p.m.

“Police regained control of the prison and turned it back over to the correctional staff,” said Sgt. R.E. Lemon

“There were some minor injuries suffered by inmates, but those injuries were as a result of the disturbance, not the police actions,” he added

Fraser Regional Corrections and local RCMP are investigating the incident.

Fraser Regional will expand from 254 cells to 389 cells next year, requiring an addition to to the building. That will reduce the amount of double bunking in the prison, which is currently at 172 per cent of capacity.

Construction is due to start in February 2009 and be complete by December 2010.

In the meantime, temporary housing will be complete by May that will house 100 inmates. That will be in the form of a large tent, as used in some U.S. prisons. Once permanent expansion takes place, the tent could be used for programs.

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