An AK47 was found at the scene of a recent gang shooting in Vancouver
You just knew it was bound to happen in Vancouver at some point. I'm referring to the 10 person gang-related shooting that took place over the weekend only a block from Mayor Gregor Robertson's home. In fact, he was one of the dozens of people that hit the 911 button and called emergency response to report the incident. On the 6 o'clock news, it all looked like something out of a bad Hollywood gangster movie.
We're told by our sources that Mayor Robertson refused to do a media scrum on this serious incident, choosing to send out a news release via email instead. His well-crafted statement (which many simply reprinted verbatim) is trying to show how concerned the Mayor is when it comes to the issue of gang violence in his city.
Not long ago Mayor Gregor was interviewed by Petti Fong from the Toronto Star regarding his views on the significance of gang warfare in Vancouver. Although the article didn't garner that much attention back here on the wet coast, it was an interesting insight into Gregor's perspective on gangs and guns. Here is an excerpt from the piece:
Mayor Gregor Robertson said compared to major American cities, Vancouver is one of the safest cities in the world.
"There is no cause for concern," Robertson said.
If you recall, we took Robertson to task a while ago for his lack of interest in attending an urgent meeting convened by Mayor Dianne Watts when her community was rocked with gang violence. Within days of the shootings, Watts stepped up to the plate and immediately called all local leaders together to map out a plan of action. Unfortunately, Mayor Robertson never showed up to the meeting. We subsequently found out he chose to attend a 2010 Olympic photo op instead and didn't bother to send anyone else from his council in his place.
Through a well-placed FOI we did a while back, we also discovered that Robertson sees plenty of opportunity to get good press out of these types of gang shootings. In fact, one email we uncovered revealed that he was trying to get Federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff his share of the "gang press" as he calls it. Here is the email in its entirety (our emphasis):
From: Robertson, G
Sent: Thursday, March 19, 2009 11:07 AM
To: Dobrinskaya, Maria; Magee, Michael
Let's get some private mtg time nailed down. Not sure if the brek mtg got booked but let's grab it if that's the only private time possible.
He might also want to do some Chu time to get his share of the gang war press. That's useful for [THE REST OF THIS SENTENCE WAS BLACKED OUT BY CITY STAFF. THEY CITE SECTION 16 OF THE FOI LEGISLATION]. Good to ask if we can help set that up. Jim can join for some of our mtg, though that needs to be contained as there's lots of other stuff to talk about.
Mayor of Vancouver
Over the coming days there will likely be numerous calls by local media commentators and citizens for someone to step up to the plate, and put end to this violence before another innocent victim is killed. As the police have already hinted, these types of events are normally followed up by several other violent acts of retribution. Therefore, despite what Mayor Gregor told the Toronto Star, there is really a need to be concerned and aware of our surroundings – particularly in the coming weeks.
Let's hope that one day we can finally put an end to the drug-related violence plaguing Metro Vancouver, but until then we need our civic, provincial and federal politicians to take seriously what just happened on Oak Street. The solution isn't simply hiring more police officers but rather, we need to find a way of eliminating the profits related to the multi-billion drug industry in Canada.
The level of violence is escalating, and sooner or later someone's family member will be innocently caught up in the crossfire – again. The fact this recent spate of gang violence happened in the Mayor's backyard may finally awaken him to the reality of what's taking place on our streets. Sadly though, I'm not convinced it will.
It has just been announced this morning that the Mayor has scheduled a news conference with the Chief of Police today to discuss the gang shootings. Rest assured, the news coverage tonight will likely focus on Robertson's "personal experience" with the shooting, rather than his track record.
What do you think? Is enough being done to combat gang violence? Has Mayor Robertson and other civic leaders done enough to combat gang violence? As long as there are billions to be made in drug profits, will we ever be able to stop the shootings? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
UPDATE @ 12:01 PM: The Vancouver Sun is reporting that Mayor Robertson tried to call 911, but got a busy signal. Here is an excerpt from their story now online:
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who lives one block from the shooting, said he was awoken by the shooting and got a "sinking feeling" in his stomach.
"When it happens in your own neighbourhood, it's a shock," said Robertson.
Robertson said he tried calling 911 but got a busy signal.
Robertson called the shooting "despicable" and said police will do everything they can to catch the people who did it.
- Post by Daniel