Protesters plan to crash Odd Squad Productions Society bash

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      Hollywood’s Steven Seagal is coming as a special guest. And Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson is also slated to attend.

      This evening (June 7), it’s the 15th-anniversary gala and fundraising dinner for the Odd Squad Productions Society, a nonprofit organization of active and retired Vancouver police officers. The Odd Squad films interactions between its members and residents of the Downtown Eastside.

      Not everyone is happy with what the group is doing. In fact, protesters are planning to show up at the Vancouver Convention Centre, where the Odd Squad is holding its party.

      “The Odd Squad is a bunch of cops that go around doing documentaries on various social issues to educate youth to be aware of—so, like, stuff on gangs, addiction, alcoholism, stuff like that,” Jennifer Allan told the Straight in a phone interview. “But how they go about doing it is very exploitative.”

      Allan is a cofounder of the citizens’ group Vancouver Cop Watch. Armed with cameras, members of this group monitor police actions in the Downtown Eastside.

      Members of the Odd Squad on active police duty are also featured in a TV series produced by the Montreal-based Galafilm. Airing this summer, the 10-episode show called The Beat II follows police officers as they deal with people in the neighbourhood. It’s a follow-up to The Beat, which aired on Citytv in 2010.

      According to Allan, many residents in the community didn’t like The Beat. “They told a one-way story about the Downtown Eastside that’s a horrible, criminal, AIDS–infested neighbourhood,” Allan said.

      The Odd Squad didn’t make a spokesperson available for interview with the Straight before deadline.

      Doug King, a lawyer with the Pivot Legal Society, noted that his group doesn’t favour the Odd Squad’s practice of filming police-related incidents in the Downtown Eastside.

      “It just raises the issue of why only the Downtown Eastside,” King told the Straight in a phone interview. “We’ve heard stories of police responding to domestic-assault incidents and showing up with camera crews. And that’s something I don’t think they would do in any other neighbourhood.”

      King also said that there are questions on how waivers are being granted by residents to allow themselves to be filmed. “It’s an incredibly invasive thing to do,” he stated. “And it raises this kind of issue of discrimination in the neighbourhood. They treat the neighbourhood like a war zone.”

      In a May 24 media release, the Odd Squad Productions Society stated that its anniversary event has the support of 50 corporate sponsors.


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      Jun 7, 2012 at 7:57am

      Shame on you Georgia Straight for publishing unsubstantiated lies and being a mouthpiece for this group of protestors. Only a group targeting police would get such a pass to slander. Shame on your writers and editors for not asking questions and for dishonouring the principles of journalistic objectivity and service to the role of media in a democratic society. Shame on you.


      Jun 7, 2012 at 7:58am

      Where and when?

      Gentleman Jack

      Jun 7, 2012 at 9:31am

      I remember during the olympics the revenuers were hassling the poor. The Legal Observer program was in effect (really, it should be 24/7/365, but that is another topic), so they were sometimes videotaping these revenuer vs. human being battles. The Revenuers would actively instruct the poor being arrested to object to filming---and so the LOs would dutifully comply. So I heard, anyway

      It would be very fun to make a video of odd squad members asking them "Do you know the law of the realm and mean to observe it well?"

      Mike C

      Jun 7, 2012 at 10:42am

      Odd Squad has a right to show their perspective on what they see in the Downtown Eastside as much as VANDU and Pivot Legal Society has a right to portray it as a perfectly normal neighbourhood.


      Jun 7, 2012 at 11:18am

      Cops is the longest running reality tv series in the states. Dog the Bounty Hunter goes after wanted criminals and is also a hit show. Shows have been made about the business of policing for years. How is the filming done by this group any different?

      People doing unhealthy things and engaging in criminal activity is captured regularly. And the DTES is one of North America's most highly profiled socially challenged neighbourhoods. Is it one of the most dangerous? Well, I think there are poorer and more dangerous neighbourhoods in the states where people wouldn't dare walk or drive through yet generations of children are still raised and go to school in literal ghettos.

      Regardless, what happens in the DTES has people interested, and therefore tuned in. Police also have stories to tell, and have chosen this outlet to do so. It can't be just DTES residents who provide their side of why they do what they do and live how they live.

      Balancing perspectives is important, it educates us on how the world is. One sidedness is harmful in the long run because people then turn a blind eye to the actual problem instead of addressing the why's and how's of the circumstance. Being too narrow minded is getting this country into all sorts of problems. People need to accept that there are two sides of a coin and deal, instead of diverting blame to others as the solution.

      You can't cherry pick when its good and not good to do something. If it were that simple we wouldn't have a DTES situation in the first place.

      Franky N

      Jun 7, 2012 at 11:55am

      If Odd Squad can educate even a handful youth to not end up as addicted, I congratulate them. And to have VANDU protest them when they get $250k from VCH and 30K from the city is shameful.

      DTES Resident

      Jun 7, 2012 at 12:08pm

      I remember approx 14 years ago when the VPD brought back increased enforcement with more police walking the beat in the area. The residents (& I mean residents not people dropping by to buy and sell drugs) of this neighborhood were so pleased they were shaking the officers hands and saying hi when they met them on the street. Once again you could get into the carnegie centre with out having to fight your way through a bunch of drug dealers selling on the front steps!

      Trust me there are many more residents down here who support the police and are tired of having their neighborhood hijacked by groups like VANDU & people looking for some fame like Jennifer Allan.


      Jun 7, 2012 at 12:48pm

      When does "documentary" crosss the line to become "Reality Television"?

      This stuff is filmed in Borneo, it's not anthropology. The films' subjects all live within blocks of the Convention Centre.

      So, how many of the films' subjects have been invited to this bash...hmm? I hope it is quite a few, a significant number. Don't actors always get invited to the "wrap party"?

      R U Kiddingme

      Jun 7, 2012 at 3:49pm

      Just wanted to say that this sounds like good protest. It's mildly disruptive but doesn't seem like it would be violent or cutting off public services or encouraging Black Bloc inanity. So, good on Jennifer Allen in that sense, right?

      Ernie Crey

      Jun 7, 2012 at 4:12pm

      Let me see, they were too busy to grab Pickton off the streets during his decade long killing spree, but not so busy as to pass up making self-congratulatory docs at the expense of folks on the DTES. And while I am a big Steven Seagal fan, I have to say I am disappointed in him today.