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Updated: Sat, 04 May 2013 00:50:03 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Police concern grows over Vancouver protests



Police concern grows over Vancouver protests

Vancouver police had to ramp up their presence on the Downtown Eastside this week, amid ongoing anti-gentrification protests and an anti-capitalist May Day march.

A strongly-worded editorial on a local blog called The Gastown Gazette detailed the May 1 event and warned the public that soon "there will be blood" in the neighbourhood.

The editorial showed photos of a masked mob carrying lit gas torches outside the Pidgin restaurant, on the boundary between Gastown and the Downtown Eastside.

The high-end restaurant has been a target of anti-gentrification protesters since it opened opposite notorious drug-dealing hotspot Pigeon Park.

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Const. Brian Montague said the May Day incident was part of an International Workers' Day protest.

"There was a group within the march and the protest that wore masks and covered their faces and carried torches," said. Montague.

"We did have to increase some of police presence there as we were concerned that things may escalate. We didn't have to do anything. The march eventually moved on and then up into Thornton Park."

Protester facing mischief charge

Police are also asking for the public's assistance in locating a Vancouver woman wanted for an alleged incident related to the ongoing anti-gentrification protests at Pidgin restaurant.

Robyn Claire Pickell, 25, is wanted for mischief after police saw a woman trying to chain and lock the restaurant's front doors while staff worked inside during the early morning of March 15.

The editorial in the Gastown Gazette urged Vancouver's mayor to take action to quell the anti-gentrification protests, which have been condemning high-end local restaurants as contributing to the gentrification of the local area.

Protesters say the restaurants are too expensive for residents of the low-income neighbourhood to enjoy. Many would prefer to see the location used for housing.

Mayor condemns 'counterproductive' demonstration

On Friday, Mayor Gregor Robertson released a statement, saying violent demonstrations were counterproductive.

“Aggressively targeting a restaurant is unacceptable, and a significant distraction from urgent issues such as homelessness, affordable housing and chronic poverty receiving full attention in the ongoing provincial election campaign," Robertson said.

"I also hope that input on these issues will continue to be directed through the Downtown Eastside Local Area Planning Process, which the community pushed hard for and is actively engaged in."

Robertson also said he was pleased the Crown had approved charges against Pickell, the protestor who is alleged to have tried to chain and lock Pidgin's front doors.

External Links

The Gastown Gazette

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