Police investigating if Cuchillo restaurant vandalism linked to Downtown Eastside anti-gentrification protests

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      The Vancouver Police Department is investigating an act of vandalism against Cuchillo restaurant in the context of ongoing anti-gentrification protests in the Downtown Eastside.

      “The file has been forwarded to the investigators who are dealing with a number of files that are all related to both to this restaurant [Cuchillo], the PiDGin restaurant, and the anti-gentrification protests in general,” VPD constable Brian Montague told the Straight. “But unless they get some suspect information that would directly link them, there is no way for us at this point to link them.”

      Cuchillo, a new upscale eatery located at 261 Powell Street, had its glass front door shattered early in the morning of Saturday, August 10.

      Cuchillo and PiDGin, another restaurant new to the area, have been the sites of anti-gentrification picketers for months now. Activists criticize both restaurants for pricing their food higher than most people in the Downtown Eastside can afford, and for leading a process of gentrification that protesters claim will push long-time low-income residents out of the areas they call home.

      Monague noted that the case is being investigated as an act of mischief and not an incidence of breaking and entering.

      “No one has been arrested,” he said. “It looks like they are still pulling video or obtaining video, so I don’t have any suspect information.”

      Meanwhile, anti-gentrification activists have moved to distance themselves from the act of vandalism made against Cuchillo.

      In an email sent to the Straightfrom, an activist named Manuel Schulte detailed how anti-gentrification protesters are being blamed and harassed for acts of violence that they did not commit.

      “No arrests have been made in connection to these incidents [acts of vandalism], while two have been made against picketers for protest-related activities,” that message reads. “Once again we're being blamed for vandalism we didn't commit, and aggressive diners are taking it as an excuse to assault us.”

      In a telephone interview, Kim Hearty, one of the activists quoted in the email, told the Straight that people who disagree with the anti-gentrification movement are taking advantage of Cuchillo’s broken door. She argued that it is being used as “an excuse to attack anyone in the neighborhood who stands in the way of gentrification.”

      On June 3, Hearty was arrested by the VPD for what she describes as legitimate acts of protest. In relation to that incident, she agreed to an order prohibiting her from coming within a six-block radius of PiDGin.

      Hearty maintained that developers as well as the police have made it clear they want the picketing of PiDGin and Cuchillo as well as other anti-gentrification protests to stop.

      “The broken door is being used to justify further aggression against the resistance,” she said.

      In the email sent to the Straight, Schulte argued that it’s the protesters who need police protection.

      “Things have taken a turn for the worse, and the cops are nowhere to be seen,” he is quoted as saying. “We are being spat on, shouted down, having beer and cigarettes hurled at us.”

      Pickets began outside Cuchillo on July 5. Four blocks from Cuchillo, protests at PiDGin restaurant at 350 Carrall Street have occurred Tuesday through Saturday since February 5, 2013.

      You can follow Travis Lupick on Twitter at twitter.com/tlupick.




      Aug 16, 2013 at 1:51pm

      The headline of this article seems disingenuous. It seems to me that the headline is trying to create associations that are demonizing the anti-gentrification movement.

      The reality of the article is not "police are investigating if vandalism is linked to the anti-gentrification movement" but "police have said there is no evidence connecting vandalism to the anti-gentrification movement".

      The Straight has done some good and balanced work on the gentrification protests but please think a little in choosing these headlines because they create unconscious associations that are marginalising people who are trying to say some things about their neighbourhood. Would you really give the article the same spin if it were a suburban neighbourhood protesting against a Walmart or Starbucks moving in?

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      Aug 16, 2013 at 1:59pm

      These activists do not engage in destruction or property and do not condone it, as anyone paying any attention knows full well.
      On our block of Georgia St, we now have people defecating on our street; but they are not homeless, oh no, but Well-dressed young women who don't even live here & have no respect for the neighbourhood and here to party are the people urinating & defecating on our street. That is really making things better - right.
      What will make things better, first, is respect for all people who are poor instead of treating them like dirt who can lose housing due to someone else's desire to make money - NOT to make any neighbourhood better.
      Some in-depth, honest journalism, reporting the facts and realities about:
      - this gentrification which is not revitalization,
      - the city's role in misrepresenting housing types and real numbers
      - the developers & businesses involved who are running city hall
      - the true numbers of people becoming homeless,
      - the extreme noise from new venues & construction that is damaging people's health
      - how what is being carried out is not a vision of healthy homes and green community for all
      Unbiased reporting with headlines that do not lead to erroneous and libelous conclusions would be far more educational for the many who don't understand the truths about the whole DTES than this article is doing. That would be far more helpful to the real people who may be materially poor but certainly more often demonstrate far more humanity than the money- changers who are pretending to fix things when the reality is they, with the city's blessing, are destroying lives, not improving anything.
      These protesters are supported by many in the community who truly understand why they do this and the heart and compassion they show by doing so.

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      Rick in Richmond

      Aug 16, 2013 at 2:14pm

      This is absurd: "aggressive diners" are attacking the picketers?

      These picketers are trying to shut down honest businesses. They are trying to force people out of work. They are trying to bankrupt the people who started these restaurants.

      "Aggressive diners"?

      On March 10, in a public meeting at the Carnegie Centre, Kim Hearty admitted that the picketers engage in "yelling at customers... the point is to keep people from going in and supporting this restaurant”. And that's exactly what they do. They intimidate customers.

      She makes this admission at the 9:10 mark on the YouTube video made of the occasion. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIzmdjTHGXY]

      Aggressive diners? These status quo picketers are trying desperately to make people lose their jobs, and their businesses, in order to keep the DTES the way they like it.

      They have zero sympathy from the vast majority of people. Even the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council withdrew its support.

      They failed to shut down Pidgin, and they are failing to shut down Cuchillo. An escalation of tactics is inevitable.

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      @ LSC

      Aug 16, 2013 at 2:36pm

      Defecating? You're saying that there are well dressed young women out partying and taking poops on the street?
      Well, if that's the case, then in the words of the immortal Rick James "Cocaine's a hell of a drug"

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      Aug 16, 2013 at 3:48pm


      The Mainlander, rabble, and CCAP have been vilifying new restaurants in the DTES as symbols of market forces that are displacing poorer residents, and equating gentrification with violence itself.

      I personally know a fellow whose house, under construction in East Vancouver, has been subjected to arson attempts. The police believe that it is the work of anti-gentrification activists.

      The Gastown Gazette has documented an anti-gentrification march of people carrying torches chanting "class war," "rich scum beware" and "burn the condos."

      Hence, it is hardly incredible to speculate that Cuchillo or Pidgin would be subjected to property vandalism.

      As for condoning vandalism...well...as long as the good, compassionate, interested and peaceful activists do not repudiate and condemn the Black Bloc horseshit of the extremists, they are tacitly joining with it; Google "diversity of tactics."

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      Aug 16, 2013 at 4:36pm

      Had dinner last night - delicious and pleasant staff and a nice experience. As for price I'd - not that bad say let's see.... Incendio, Calabash, Two Chefs, Phnom Phen, Jules, Guu, Wild Rice, ACME, Pizzeria etc etc ...all have similar prices... see for yourself www . cuchillo . ca / menu ... So I guess if they fixed up a building, opened a new restaurant and everything was between $4 and $15 it would be OK right? Let's just call it the Anti-Fix-Up-Any-Old-Buildings Movement (and wait till they fall down from neglect just like happened a couple week ago further east up Powell). So if a business other than a restaurant moves in is it OK? The City ain't got money (nor the will) to spend on heritage and preserve our older neighbourhoods so we get all crazy when some new business owners do??

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      Shaba Has It

      Aug 16, 2013 at 5:39pm

      IF you have a righteous cause then there is no need to hide behind the mask of anonymity.

      Ultimately the DTES is prime real estate. Progress will have it's way regardless and that's capitalism. I am not against charity, but why should those that require it lay claim on an area?

      This sense of ownership for things that depend purely on charity and good will is misplaced and ill informed.

      It boils down to a choice, profit and use that for benefit, or lose out and be pushed to side.

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      Aug 16, 2013 at 6:13pm

      Only thugs and criminals hide behind masks and it is safe to assume they are going to break the law. While else would they hide their faces?

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      Aug 16, 2013 at 9:01pm

      I see both sides to this. Putting a restaurant in an area where there is poverty and those around it can't afford it is not fair mainly because of the lack of choices these people have. They have been cast away by society with little or no effective treatment. So a restaurant they can't afford in their neighbourhood is a bit of a slap in the face.

      On the other side of the argument I think that every person should be accountable for themselves and nobody has a right to stake a claim on either a neighbourhood or an establishment because it doesn't meet their needs. That's when the law needs to step in and provide consequences.

      Not sure which side I feel more strongly about.

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      Aug 16, 2013 at 9:47pm

      I have seen independent cel phone video of a woman who was leaving Cuchillo spitting on a protester. I have seen human poop on the doorstep of the Police Museum. Can't say who left it there but still none the less gross. As for the Gastown Gagette. That blog is nothing but opinion masquerading as news and publishes so many inaccuracies, makes up more "facts" than faux news and is in of so many violations of the Canadian Association of Journalism ethics and guidelines it is laughable.(it is not a newspaper or any sort of investigative journal though the claim to be) I would hardly call them a reliable source of information regarding anything taking place on the DTES

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