Pipeline debate gets truly “extreme” with police raid of suspected activists
Read this June 5 story by The Tyee’s David Ball on the bizarre police raid of suspected pipeline protesters’ home over alleged graffiti. A crowdfunding campaign to cover legal expenses incurred by the arrested graffiti suspects surpassed its goal of $5,000 within one day.
Police confirmed they raided the East Vancouver home of four activists this week, but would not comment on residents’ allegations that two of 16 officers pointed handguns at residents during a search related to “No Pipelines” graffiti.
The Vancouver Police Department said it executed a search warrant at the Parker Street house on Tuesday morning, taking four residents into custody. It did not confirm how many officers were involved.
According to a warrant left behind on the kitchen table, officers were searching for “graffiti vandalism paraphernalia” — likely a reference to spray-painted slogans against bitumen and natural gas pipelines that have defaced walls and post boxes in the neighbourhood in recent years.
The raid came as the federal government is poised to announce its final decision on the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway bitumen pipeline. First Nations and environmental groups have vowed to block the project from reaching the B.C. coast. But the use of graffiti has divided anti-pipeline activists, many of whom draw the line at civil disobedience, others at lawful protest tactics.
“Safety is our priority and that includes the safety of officers who are involved in this aspect of police work,” VPD spokesman Const. Brian Montague said in an email, when asked about the firearm allegations. “Officers are not required to unnecessarily risk their personal safety.