Police raid house in East Vancouver, with guns drawn, on pretext of anti-pipeline graffiti

No Pipelines Graffiti 2by Zig Zag, Warrior Publications, June 3, 2014

At around 9AM on June 3, 2014, approximately 16 cops from the Vancouver Police Department raided a house in East Vancouver under the pretext of investigating six mischief charges related to graffiti tags dating from June, July, and October of 2013. The four residents of the house, and one guest, were removed one by one by police aiming pistols at them. One person inside the house looked out their bedroom window and saw a cop pointing his pistol at him.

The house targeted by the raid is comprised of radicals involved in Indigenous resistance as well as anarchist projects in the city (including myself, the editor of the Warrior Publications wordpress site).

Once removed from the house, the five people were placed in a prisoner transport van parked out front while a K9 team entered the house to search for any remaining people. After the K9 team searched the house, a forensic identification unit with a video camera appeared. They first filmed the exterior of the house and the yard, then entered the house itself. After filming the interior, they then used a camera to take photos.

At around 11AM, all but one of the five persons detained were released. The last person held was told he would be charged with 6 counts of mischief under $5000 and taken away in the prisoner transport van. Those released were told to leave the area and that police would contact them once the search was over.

The individual arrested was taken to the downtown Vancouver jail where cops from the Integrated Graffiti Task Force attempted to interrogate him. They mentioned spray painted tags and anti-pipeline graffiti. At around 3:30PM he was released without charges, although told that the investigation was ongoing and that charges could still be laid.

At around 6PM, police informed the residents that the search had been completed. At this time, the warrant for the search was found in the kitchen, naming the target of the raid as well as a list of items referred to as “graffiti vandalism paraphernalia.” This included paint, spray paint, markers, paint markers, latex or rubber gloves, painter’s masks, glass etching kits, books with graffiti images, notepads or paper with images or graffiti, any computer electronic storage devices such as USB’s or external hard drives, camera, film or any digital storage cards, photographs, pictures (such as canvas), video tapes or DVD that may contain graffiti, cell phones with the ability to take photographs or video, a particular coloured baseball cap, black knapsack and black hoody, dark jeans, plus “forensic examination and recovery of data to determine ownership and use, including… contact lists, text messages, emails, call logs, video and photos from any computers, cell phones or electronic storage devices.”

The main items taken during the raid were laptop computers, USBs, and cell phones. A collection of political zines and some banners were also taken, along with a video camera and a black hoodie.

The primary warrant was dated June 2, 2014, and sworn by Detective Derek Wong of the Vancouver police based at 2120 Cambie Street. The time for the execution of the warrant is stated as being from 6AM to 9PM. The warrant is signed by EE Bowes.

There is also a secondary warrant which is dated June 3, 2014, sworn by Ram Greoriou who is identified as a Vancouver police officer. This warrant has a time of 3-5PM listed and is also signed by EE Bowes.

Considering the minor nature of the charges, the raid carried out by the Vancouver police is clearly part of a larger strategy of politically motivated repression against radicals and especially the growing resistance against oil and gas pipelines throughout the province. As a tactic, the raid enables police to seize items such as computers, extract information from them, disrupt communications, and very possibly emplace spyware prior to their return. The raid and its subsequent occupation of the space by the cops provides them with the opportunity to take a snapshot of their target’s lives, and to possibly put in place listening devices. As a part of a strategy of repression, the raid is an attempt to intimidate and silence those involved in resistance movements.

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Posted on June 4, 2014, in RCMP-Police and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 55 Comments.

  1. It’s happened in London too….

  2. Love and respect the fuck outa you brother!

  3. Reblogged this on The {Public} Sphere and commented:
    Here is some more evidence of the desperate tactics authorities are turning to in order to make pipelines a reality.

  4. uncontrollable

    Reblogged this on The Uncontrollable Ones.

  5. This shows the importance of encrypting computers and flash drives-and WIPING or replacing camera cards after anything “hot.” A 2008 raid on my house failed because they could not crack and encrypted computer and flash drive. They timed the raid to avoid confronting me at home, possibly fearing force would be met with force.

    • But did they also not take your computer and flash drive? For retaining data, it seems the most important task is to have copies of files on USBs stored at a separate location. I’m not worried about encrypting data because I’m not writing anything secret nor am I doing anything “covert” on the internet. I assume through their technologies that they can track my internet use, thanks to Google and Facebook etc.

      • Maybe community needs to start learning and caring about infosec in general. Private keys seperate for .every. connexion, air gaps, TOR, VPN, use linux

      • I agree that one should feel secure in their feeling of freedom to dissent and know they are acting within the law should not feel the need to hide their actions or words within encryption, and the encryption game is far beyond what most understand, what encryption systems are compromised? How many other clandestine law enforcement tactics are being used? To quote from the bible “And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.”
        In this day and age of Secret law enforcement and clandestine warfare the strongest weapon is truth and open disclosure, the Creator made everything that is revealed in light and our spirit is of the same essence, Shine bright and speak your truths they have greater wings than the cowering men in the Shadows.
        ~Aho

      • While I agree with the sentiment, there are obviously times when you do want to conceal your activities, intentions, plans etc from an opponent, and that is the nature of conflict. If we proceed without any sense of security then we are vulnerable to attacks from our enemy.

      • There were backup copies of everything important in other locations. I do not use Google or Facebook, regarding each as more dangerous than the NSA due to their data and “real names” policies.

  6. Free king no pipe lines!!! Fuck the police #ftp#ftl#acab

  7. Just a bit of editorial advice, you might wanna mention which Vancouver within Cascadia where this went down.

    • What’s Cascadia? Do you mean the town in Oregon, or the proposed town in Washington, or the region around the Cascade Mountains, or something else?

      Presumably you refer to the fact that there is a small town in Southern Washington State also called Vancouver. Not many people outside of Washington, Oregon and South-Western British Columbia even realize that that city exists. Had it taken place there, it likely would have been noted as Vancouver, WA. News stories about London don’t often distinguish between London, England and London, Ontario, unless the story is about the city in Ontario. Same goes for Paris, France and Paris, TX (or any of the dozen other cities in the US named Paris).

      If you really need clarification, this article is about the Canadian city with over 2 million people, not the American city of 160,000 people that is part of Metro Portland.

  8. typical of an ongoing police state-tools of the corporatocracy

  9. So, who ordered up the raid on what premise? Is this notice that all protesters are under surveillance and subject to a raid if we send an email, a tweet, join a march? We need to know just what the governments are doing and c-a-n do.

  10. Let us know if any support is needed for dealing with fines or any other bs that comes of this.

  11. Reblogged this on Saved By Onsite and commented:
    Scary, armed raid over graffiti?

  12. Hey, be against pipelines and be an activist but please don’t spray paint over murals, bus shelters, etc. It makes the whole cause look bad, and ruins artwork done by all walks of life. Use a different tactic, not this one please… you’re creating more enemies than winning friends.

    • All movements need a diversity of tactics. You don’t like spray paint, others don’t like voting for fake politicians. You may think that voting for fake politicians makes you look “good and respectable,” while others may see it as an illusion that needs to be broken. The murals people cry about here in Vancouver are the result of anti-graffit efforts launched by the city, businesses and the police. In fact it was a cop who initiated many of the mural projects in East Vancouver. What is the goal? To stop graffiti or to stop pipelines and oil tankers?

      • I live on the drive and I can tell you that this neighborhood is very environmentally conscious. I think what GK is saying is, the spray painting is *not* an effective tool to combat the pipelines. Yes, various tactics are needed, but don’t kid yourself into thinking it’s a free-for-all.
        The spray painting (which is done during the hours of darkness) tells me the person(s) involved probably couldn’t be bothered doing something that will actually affect the situation, because at the moment all they’re doing is aggravating a large number of people that otherwise support the no-pipelines goal.
        Our apartment building got tagged quite a few times; all it did was piss off the occupants, and did absolutely nothing to raise awareness. People looked straight pass what it was saying, and only saw it’s ugliness. It’s time to grow up, and realize there are far better ways to get your point across.

      • You have no idea who does these tags or what activities they are involved in. If the graffiti aggravates people then good, people need to be aggravated. This idea that the graffiti “turns away” people from anti-pipeline and oil tankers is of course bullshit. All the recent public opinion polls show people are overwhelmingly opposed, irregardless of the “evil” graffiti campaign. Social movements use a wide variety of means to communicate and take action. You don’t like some tactics that are used, fine, but at the end of the day we need a wide diversity of tactics not just whatever you think is “appropriate” and acceptable.

      • Actually Zig Zag, it’s not bullshit, it’s true. Everybody, and I mean everybody, that I’ve spoken to in the neighborhood do not support the graffiti, and all agree it doesn’t help the cause whatsoever.
        It’s a shame you can’t see that, as you could probably come up with some far better ideas to support the cause.
        You wrote “You have no idea who does these tags or what activities they are involved in” – that is completely irrelevant. Regardless of who does the tagging, the overwhelming feeling is the same – it does not help.
        And what are you getting at by saying I have no idea what activities they are involved in? If I, or others, are not aware of those activities, perhaps it’s about time they did something that *did* make us aware.
        You’re obviously at a point where you won’t listen to reason, and you are so caught up in your own self-righteousness that it’s probably pointless trying to communicate a few plain truths to you, but I guess we must try.

      • Perhaps if you learned to read and comprehend, you would see my point was that, despite the graffiti, public opposition to the pipelines and tankers is still overwhelming. And perhaps if you could think logically, you would realize that not knowing the identity of the alleged graffiti tagger(s), you have no idea as to what, if any, other public organizing the individual(s) are involved in.

      • Ah, so you’re now suggesting the taggers are involved in other activities to oppose the pipelines? That’s good news, because the graffiti is pointless. They should give that aspect up as it does nothing to further their cause.

        I completely agree though, opposition to the pipelines is still very prevalent, myself included. I personally think it will be devastating to the area and it’s a clear case of money over sense. However, I really dislike being associated with a group of people who think spray painting other peoples property with ugly, non-artistic, lazy, mediocre paint helps the cause. It doesn’t. And it never will.

        Get off your moral high horse, and see it for what it is. A pointless, redundant, useless waste of time.

        I encourage you to find more productive ways to protest. The fact that quite a few people on this forum and elsewhere (read…the inhabitants of Commercial Drive) have written in protest to the graffiti seems to be completely lost on you. As I mentioned in my last post, it really is pointless attempting to reason with you as you are so caught up in your own bullshit you’ve become completely incapable of considering differing viewpoints. I pity you, but I also wish you luck in your fight; just please change your tactics.

      • As long as there has been civilization and city walls, there has been grafitti, and no amount of bitching or whining is gonna change that. When I moved to Commercial Drive in 1987, there was graffiti all up and down the street. Most businesses just left it up, no one complained and that’s just the way it was. It was clearly a radical community. Nowadays, you have a large invasion of yuppie home owners and a corresponding anti-graffiti campaign carried out by the cops, city officials and business owners. But like I said, as long as walls exist there’s gonna be graffiti. Instead of coming on this site whining about some grafitti, why don’t you spend your energy working against the pipelines you allegedly oppose…

      • Scribbles such as these are a waste of paint! It’s not anti pipeline it’s anti establishment. You say everyone is opposed to pipelines yet there is an unbelievable amount of cars and trucks on the road. If you were to tell all these commuters that the gas they pump into there cars came from a pipeline on its transport from OPEC nations do you really think they give a fuck? So in reality the majority of vancouver’s population are pro pipelines by default. Pipelines are not killing the planet…. People are killing the planet.

      • And people build pipelines and tar sands which contribute to killing the planet… and here in BC the vast majority of people are opposed to pipelines and oil tankers. They would obviously have little effect on pipelines in the middle east but can certainly fight to defend this region. Overall you are correct in that there is a need for a radical change in which this society functions and its way of life. How long can it continue before it reaches the point of self-destruction? And when people must rely on the land and water for sustenance and life, what good will it be when its a toxic landscape thanks to pipeline and oil tanker spills and all the other destructive projects currently underway? If the anti-pipeline graffiti is “anti establishment” all the better then isn’t it?

    • You’re bang on. That chicken scratch is ugly and doesn’t deserve to be called graf. I have to look at it every day and it hasn’t won my support…never will. Find a better tactic.

      • I’ll tell what’s ugly–most of those murals. The murals along Commercial Drive, in fact, are the result of cops, city officials and business owners and form part of their anti-graffiti program. Personally I think the addition of anti-pipeline graffiti on some of them actually makes them relevant, becuz at this point they’re nothing but empty paintings meant to make middle-class business owners and shoppers feel safe and unthreatened. So f##k that and those artists who participate in state-sanctioned murals that are intended for social control.

  13. This is great… more scum off the street.

    • Guess your reading and comprehension are a little…dull? All the people were released, and the one person they allege did the graffiti was released without charge later that day…

  14. Props to the taggers, the hangnails of urban conciousness. The debate here about tagging is a fine example of the role and effectiveness of tagging as a way to expose the yuppies in our midst…

    No friend of mine would weep for property values (which is what the graffitti argument is ultimately about) at the expense of one of the oldest and most effective forums for public dissent…

    The writing is on the wall mofos, and it always will be.

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