Video contradicts Vancouver police statement on plainclothes officers at tent city

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      The executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association has said that police statements to the media “need to be examined very carefully for the truth”.

      David Eby spoke to Straight today (February 24) after his organization posted on-line a video showing three plainclothes police officers visiting the Olympic Tent Village in the Downtown Eastside on February 15.

      A week ago, Const. Lindsey Houghton, a spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department, told the Straight that only two plainclothes officers had visited the squat, along with Const. Jodyne Keller, the VPD’s homeless outreach coordinator, who was in uniform.

      “I think that’s a concern that the VPD is releasing information to the public that is inaccurate, and that the only reason we know it’s inaccurate is because someone was there and videotaping what actually happened from our observer program,” Eby said by phone. “So, if the police are going to be releasing public statements, they really do need to make sure that they are accurate and truthful. Otherwise, they’re going to lose the confidence of the public in what they say to the media.”

      Shot by legal observers with the BCCLA, the video shows activist Harsha Walia escorting the three plainclothes officers out of the tent village at 58 West Hastings Street. Two of the officers can be seen wearing earpieces.

      The video also includes an interview with a tent-village supporter, who recounts the conversation he had with Keller about why she wasn’t in uniform.

      Today, Houghton told the Straight that he had unintentionally passed on incorrect information.

      “My understanding was that she was in uniform,” Houghton said by phone. “But, if she was in plainclothes, she was in plainclothes. She, as a police officer, can wear that too.”

      Houghton remarked that he didn’t know why Keller wasn’t in uniform that day, but he asserted that her job is “to try and help people” living on the streets.

      “Some people find uniforms a bit intimidating,” he said. “So, maybe she made the decision, like we do on a daily basis, to go in plainclothes. Maybe she didn’t have time to change. I don’t know.”

      Eby called the sending of three plainclothes officers to the tent village a “tactical decision”.

      He speculated that decision might have been made to “avoid the appearance maybe of three uniformed officers going into the tent city, because the public wouldn’t agree with that, but at the same time send a message to the demonstrators that they’re being watched by police”.

      Police have “overused” plainclothes officers when dealing with political movements in Vancouver, Eby argued.

      “We would think that plainclothes police officers should only be used in circumstances where police have grounds to believe that the individual organizations being infiltrated are engaging in violent activities or plan on engaging in violent activities,” Eby said. “You know, similar kinds of grounds they would need to use a wiretap of a phone.”

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      Feb 24, 2010 at 1:53pm

      Is this really news? One more officer than originally stated entered the village almost 10 days ago?


      Feb 24, 2010 at 2:18pm

      Who cares if there were 2 or 3? Are the protestors seriously trying to "get" the cops on a technicality? What possible substantive difference is there between 2 and 3.. and more importantly, what possible motive would the cops have for saying there was 2 instead of 3. They should have just said there were 10 on the off chance an extra 7 showed up. jeebs.


      Feb 24, 2010 at 2:59pm

      Hey said 2 and there was actually 3? Aren't you being a little pedantic? This is hardly a conspiracy to deceive.


      Feb 24, 2010 at 4:24pm

      I'm definitely someone who sides with the BCCLA and consider myself to be staunchly anti-Olympics. So, forgive me for my ignorance here, but what's the big deal? I'm not siding with the VPD, but I just don't see why this is such an issue, newsworthy and/or noteworthy.


      Feb 24, 2010 at 4:59pm

      Aren't you being a little overcommesorative? It's a small lie not a big lie. What's the big difference between say 2 drinks and 3 (ask Gordon)?

      Just because the third was a "spy" doesn't make it any more nefariousness than if he were known.

      Besides the 4th spy isn't worth mentioning either. Because he's just a technicality too.

      So get off you high horse and stop your whining and terrorizing and get yourself a retail job where you can really affect positive change.

      They are sinking

      Feb 24, 2010 at 8:14pm

      Eby is running out of stuff to use... he's getting desperate. Must be the pie he had in the face...

      Same script

      Feb 25, 2010 at 5:57pm

      Looks like Overkill, AjaxDog and Darryl all got the same script. I wish the PAB would get a bit more creative. How much are you guys paid?