Constable Jana McGuinness
Much has been written about the Occupy Wall Street protests that we have seen in cities around the world. Tomorrow that protest comes to Vancouver and will take place in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery beginning at 10 a.m.
The VPD recognizes the vital role that lawful protest plays in a free democracy and we will take all steps necessary to help facilitate and keep the participants safe. Experience has all shown us that any large gathering of people can serve as a cover for those with a different and unlawful agenda.
As organizers of these events become more sophisticated and aware of this tactic used by those intent on disruption and damage, they are working more closely with us to keep their participants safe and avoid their event being hijacked.
We are asking peaceful protesters to watch for those individuals whose actions or preparations indicate that they are planning to commit a criminal act, and to discourage the criminal behaviour and if necessary, to inform the police so we can protect the safety of people and property. In past events, we have seen people who were not peaceful protesters but criminals intent on violent acts who often hide behind masks.
For everyone’s safety, the VPD is encouraging participants not to wear masks and discourage anyone around them from doing so.
We do not anticipate violence in this protest in recognition that this group is known for peaceful demonstrations, but we are prepared if a group within the larger group commits unlawful acts. Violence against people or property will be dealt with quickly while keeping everyone’s safety as a priority.
We also expect that lawful protestors equipped with cell phone cameras will play a vital role in the apprehension and detection of law breakers as they have in other gatherings. We would hope that the pervasive nature of cell phone cameras and closed circuit cameras along the route will provide deterrence and further provide for everyone’s safety.
In summary, I would like to say that we have had very positive meetings with the organizers and we all share the common goal of safety for everyone involved. The VPD will be standing by throughout the event to render assistance when necessary and ensure public safety.