‘Anarchists’ return to smash new windows
‘We are not police,’ society says
By Cheryl Chan, The Province [British Columbia]
February 9, 2009
A community policing centre on Commercial Drive is in desperate straits after being targeted three times in recent months by vandals.
The Grandview-Woodland Community Policing Centre, which had its windows and door smashed to smithereens, is now operating behind plywood — and in debt — after the attacks.
“We’re gobsmacked,” said frustrated board member Eileen Mosca. “It’s not theft, it’s not mischief. They’re basically anarchists.”
Mosca believes the centre is a “sitting duck,” targeted because of its association with police, despite it being a volunteer-run non-profit society.
“We’re not police, we’re not a police station, but we’re a handy target,”
she said. “They wouldn’t go down to 2120 Cambie [Vancouver police headquarters] and throw rocks at them there.”
After the first attack in November, the centre replaced two panes of glass at a cost of $2,740. To raise money, it started a cellphone drive to collect 2,740 discarded cellphones to recycle for a dollar each.
On Jan. 25, vandals returned and smashed the new windows the centre is still trying to pay off. Then early Friday, vandals struck again, smashing the two remaining panes and the glass door.
Damage is estimated at $6,000 and metal shutters, which Mosca said they would be “fools not to install,” would cost another $10,000 to $14,000.
The organization had four other incidents of vandalism in previous years. Its insurance policy was cancelled after the second hit. Neither the city nor police can offer financial assistance.
Police have video footage of two people dressed in black hoodies with black bandannas obscuring their faces and using rocks to smash the windows in one attack.
The centre is now fighting to stay open and is appealing to the community to help raise funds.
“If we shut down, they win,” said Mosca.
Vandals threaten future of policing centre
Sandra Thomas, Vancouver Courier [British Columbia]
Published: Tuesday, February 10, 2009
To Eileen Mosca, a board member with the Grandview-Woodland Policing Centre on Commercial Drive, the vandals who’ve smashed the windows on the storefront office three times in as many months are
“They’re too chicken to take it out on the police so they’re targeting us, a non-profit here to help the community,” Mosca told the Courier Monday morning. “It’s obvious they’re trying to make a political statement, but they’re targeting the wrong place.”
In November vandals threw rocks through three of the centre’s five windows. Mosca said the cost to replace the glass was $2,740, of which $740 is still owed to the company that completed the repairs. On Jan. 25 the vandals returned and smashed the three panels of glass once again. Since the centre hadn’t paid off the windows from the first incident, plywood was installed in place of glass. Then on Feb. 6 at 3 a.m. the vandals returned and threw rocks through the remaining two panels and smashed the glass on the centre’s door. Mosca believes the same suspects are involved in each incident.
She said working at the centre without windows is dangerous for volunteers because they can’t see who’s walking through the door.
“We’ve got people coming in who are angry, drunk or have mental health issues,” said Mosca. “If the volunteers can’t see them coming, no one from the street can see what’s happening inside the office either. This is not something we can continue.”
But closing the office, said Mosca, is something she’s trying hard to avoid because it’s likely exactly what the vandals want. Commercial Drive is not only known for its coffee and eclectic shopping, but also for a large number of residents protesting the 2010 Olympic Games and the extra policing the event will bring to the neighbourhood. Some are upset the ice arena at the Britannia Community Centre on Commercial Drive will be used as a practice rink during the Games.
Mosca said the staff who volunteer at the centre are members of the community and help with problems such as stolen property and lost dogs, act as a business liaison and assist with programs such as Block Watch and Citizens’ Crime Watch.
On the plywood covering the windows Mosca and other volunteers, including several children, have written messages to the community in hopes the vandals will read them. The messages describe the centre’s role and include pleas from the children to “please don’t throw rocks.”
Mosca said the only way the office can continue to function is if the volunteers can raise the $8,000 needed to replace the glass, as well as another $10,000 to install vandal-proof rolling shutters. She notes the centre’s programs are funded by the city with support from the Vancouver Police Department in way of a liaison officer. Mosca said her requests for extra financial assistance to city council, the VPD, her local MLA and MP have been turned down.
“They say they just don’t have the money,” she said.
VPD Const. Lindsay Houghton confirmed all community policing centres in the city are non-profit and operated by donation, with the exception of programming money from the city and the support of a full-time police officer at each location.
“There have now been three incidents of mischief at Grandview-Woodlands and the city has been assisting with repairs,” said Houghton.
A VPD security camera caught the suspects on tape, but because the two vandals are wearing dark clothes, hoodies and masks, identifying them is difficult.
Houghton asked anyone with information on the vandalism to call Greater Vancouver Crime Stoppers at [stop snitchin’].
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