This weekend, bikers, cops, and media showed up in large numbers for the funeral of Burnaby resident and long-time Hells Angel Bob Green.
Held at the Fraserview Banquet Hall in South Vancouver, the "loving husband and devoted father" was shot dead on October 16 at the age of 56.
"Bob had a broad social circle with many friends and associates from around the world," his obit states. "He was a motorcycle enthusiast and especially took pleasure in riding and attending world-wide events with his Hells Angels brothers who were an integral part of his life. Bob was a legend in the local hospitality industry having worked and managed several popular hotels and entertainment venues."
The media are often attracted to Hells Angels funerals. That's because the death of a Hells Angel, particularly a popular one, draws other Angels from around the world, eager to show their colours and the gang's strength.
In this regard, these ceremonies parallel funerals held by their arch rivals, the police, which attract officers from other jurisdictions in a show of support for their fallen brother or sister.
Officers were out in force yesterday too, to send a message that they are still the toughest organization in town. Seeing cops lining Fraser Street, it's not hard to conclude that there was a fair amount of public-relations theatre coming from both sides.
Signs of a new gang war
Jason Francis Wallace, a 27-year-old member of the 856 gang, has been charged in the killing of Green. Wallace was out on bail at the time in connection with drug-trafficking charges.
Ten days after Green was murdered, 27-year-old Shaun Alan Clary was killed. His dismembered body was found in Langley.
“The targeted and barbaric nature of this homicide is not lost on investigators or the public, and we are working tirelessly to gather evidence to move forward," Cpl. Meghan Foster of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said in a news release earlier this week. "There are individuals out there who have the intimate details in regards to the flagrant disregard for Mr. Clary's life. We are looking to speak with those individuals and ultimately hold those responsible, accountable."
Media outlets have also reported that an alleged prospect with the Hells Angels White Rock chapter survived after being shot in the head on October 25.
Vancouverites have seen this movie before.
In the early 1990s, some young Russian thugs tried to move in on the Hells Angels.
This quickly ended when 28-year-old Sergei Filinov was murdered outside an East Vancouver motorcycle dealership. His brother Taras was later found dead in Pacific Spirit Regional Park after being kidnapped.
The huge presence of Hells Angels members at Green's funeral suggests that any young interlopers nowadays will face a similar fate.
Media miss the bigger point
For the next couple of weeks, expect to see a fair number of media reports about a gang war in the Lower Mainland. But if history offers any lessons, it will peter out over time as one side gets completely rubbed out.
In the meantime, B.C.'s overdose crisis will continue. That's because as long as drug prohibition remains in place, gangsters will control the narcotics trade and nothing will be done to prevent fentanyl from being mixed into the merchandise.
Yet we can also expect plenty of braying from politicians about the importance of fighting the gangs. If things get really ugly, more public resources will go to the cops to deal with the issue.
Of course, none of these politicians will bring forth legislation to get to the root of the problem, which is the war on drugs. The federal Liberals will make a lot of noise about legalizing marijuana, but anyone who is paying attention recognizes that this will merely impose different restrictions than those that exist today.
It's why marijuana-legalization activist Marc Emery has dubbed this the New Prohibition.
You can rest assured that the federal legalization initiative will do nothing to address the spate of drug fatalities, which are resulting from more dangerous fentanyl-laced heroin and cocaine being sold by organized criminals.
The death count will likely continue to remain high. This is notwithstanding assurances from public-health officials that they're making progress in addressing the situation.
For more on this topic, check out the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition website. It will open your eyes to the true cost of the war on drugs.