Thursday, March 22, 2007

Protest Movements and the Gutless

Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Last week, a violent action took place in the Oldtown district. This action was organized by a group not desiring to take responsibility but was most likely the APC gang who have the same trademark signature. That signature being employment of threats, violence, fear and intimidation tactics.

Its really troubling that this gang has rode into the Oldtown area and is exploiting the areas woes and the areas citizenry. Anytime, a neighborhood is ripe with poverty, gangs ride in and exploit the disenfranchised, disempowered, the weak and the marginalized. This is a historical fact.

Of course, making things worse in Oldtown is that the APC gang has a number of boosters. Notable boosters of record are David Eby of PIVOT and Jason Gratl of the BC Civil Liberties Association. These two men seem to care less about the violent practises of APC, Dera and others, as long as they are gaining prominence in the process.

In the latest issue of the Vancouver Courier, retired police Inspector, Dave Jones muses how violence has no place in protest movements. I agree.

Troubling though is that the hood's vulnerable youth are now targeted for gang activity. We saw this recently when the Native Warrior group, formerly the once proud Native Youth Movement were encouraged to engage in criminal acts. The theft of the Olympic flag was not about protest. It was part of a ruse, masquerading as a protest. They now collaborate with APC and Dera on criminal strategies.

APC and other gangs want you to believe they care for the poor. But make no mistake folks, their interest lies in creating chaos and destruction. Maintaining the district as a ghetto is to their economic advantage. Just as it is for others operating in this once proud historic area of the city. Those who suddenly appeared out of nowhere to supposedly help the poor have accomplished nothing. Jumping on the exploitation bandwagon which permeates the Oldtown neighborhood, is not an honourable action.

It needs to be pointed out that the neighborhood's warriors of the past never engaged in violent protest. They achieved their goals by championing issues which the public accepted as genuine protest issues. A few examples included the Militant Mothers of Raymur movement, who secured a safe crossing for their children, and the fight to save Carnegie Library, led by stalwart notable advocates for the area, the late, Bruce Eriksen and Harry Rankin. Of course, the MP for the area at that time was Art Lee who was also a strong champion to save Carnegie.

While its terribly concerning witnessing the continuous erosion of the Oldtown area into a cesspool, the public has a role to play to ensure that it doesn't remain a ghetto. Ghettos only benefit the bottom feeders and parasites in society.

Here is how you can help. Don't accept as a protest movement, a Gang masquerading as a protest movement. Moreover, while many of you want to assist the disadvantaged, I also ask you to re-consider your support of PIVOT and BC Civil Liberties Association as long as David Eby and Jason Gratl are in prominent leadership roles with these organizations. Hitting people most where it hurts, in their pocketbooks, will ensure that the exploitation bandwagon doesn't flourish out of control.

How can you make a difference? Let the media and politicians know that you are not willing to accept violence in protest matters. Lobby for civility to be restored to Vancouver's oldest neighborhood. Protect the poor by supporting groups who truly assist them.

And if you want to financially help there are several organizations operating in the Oldtown district which provide more than stale sandwiches and tea. Consider a donation to grassroots organizations, like Warriors Against Violence Society which operates out of Kiwassa Neighborhood House and who employ that Violence is not a traditional Aboriginal way. Or perhaps, make a donation to the Elders program at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre which has been operating for 55 years.

Remember folks justice doesn't come easy. And it won't come until there is more equitable balance of fairness and equality.

And in my humble opinion the exploitation band wagoners have no place in our equality and justice seeking movements. Nor does Violence!

Jamie Lee Hamilton