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Radical Party Last Night!

Blog posts are the work of individual contributors, reflecting their thoughts, opinions and research.
Banner at Charles and Commercial
Banner at Charles and Commercial

Hundreds of people gathered for a lively block party on May 15, organized by community members opposing plans to “redevelop” Grandview Park. The park is located in the heart of Commercial Drive at Charles Street and has historically served as an inclusive social space for the community.

Some residents feel that the park needs to undergo a process of “renewal”. A group calling themselves the “Friends of Grandview Park” are collaborating with the Commercial Drive Business Improvement Association and plans have been drawn up to redevelop the park.

The proposed renovations will close the park from July 2010 to March 2011 and will cost $1.5 million. The rationale for the redevelopment is driven by claims that the park:
• is chronically overrun by illegal inhabitants
• is used for drug dealing and hard drugs
• is the chosen location for illegal protestors
• design encourages the loitering of non-families

However, other local residents are concerned that the redevelopment is more about aims to pacify and gentrify the park and the community. As a result, Defend Grandview has organized a series of events in opposition to the proposed renovations. One of them, the block party on Saturday night was full of live music and high energy.

It was successful in bringing many people together who eventually spilled out onto Commercial Drive to reclaim the street. Banners were erected at Charles Street and William Street, effectively closing off the block to motor vehicle traffic. The party carried on throughout the night and police stayed their distance as participants lit small fires and constructed barricades. At one point a window was smashed at the Vancouver East Community Corrections centre, at the corner of Commercial and Charles. Presumably this was a politically motivated act and not random as police later claimed.

The probation office has been repeatedly targeted in recent years. In 2007, its windows were smashed in an act of solidarity with anarchist prisoners in Europe. Also that year, the building was attacked in response to the extradition of indigenous warrior John Graham from Vancouver to the United States. As a response to the broken window (another claim made by police), a long column of VPD hastily infiltrated the party, lining up side-by-side on the sidewalk for the entire length of the block. One party-goer counted at least 85 police, as plain-clothes officers stood alongside their uniformed colleagues. A mild scuffle ensued but by this time the police far-outnumbered those on the street.

Conversations with the police drew mixed results as the typical notion was invoked that a few “bad protestors” had ruined everything for the rest. This divisive and manipulative tactic has been used time and again but the majority of party-goers stood in solidarity with those who chose to carry out more diverse tactics. The police didn’t seem to have an answer as to why the astounding numbers were needed to respond to one broken window. They insisted that they were there to protect people. They did eventually sweep from one sidewalk to the next to make way for the poised fire trucks and street cleaners.

Despite the large police presence and how the end of the party was dictated, it was a smashing success, as scores of people showed up to support community opposition to the Grandview Park renewal.

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Comments

Yeah. It rocked. I especially

Yeah. It rocked. I especially love how the "partiers" said "FUCK YOU" to everyone who lived their, and got to do whatever they wanted because the Black Bloc kids were there to ensure that a riot would occur in a sleeping residential neighbourhood if they didn't get their way. I got 4 hours sleep that night before my kids finally woke up after a fitful night's sleep. Super positive way to build community.

Also love how I and a bunch of other people had to clean up the park after you twits left piles of garbage everywhere, and broke equipment in the playground, and set a fire in the middle of the Drive. Way to "defend" Grandview.

This isn't about driving the poor out. Nobody gives a flying fuck about the dudes who drink behind the washroom so long as they keep it chill. Nobody cares if you smoke dope in the park. All we want is less asphalt, more grass, better seating, and a new playground. That's it.

Every single "cause" you cite is based on a single story from a few years back, and does not reflect the values held by most people who actually see how we can have a renovated park, AND still be a diverse community.

to to local resident who lost sleep

Sorry that you lost sleep during the protest. However, I believe that there sometimes must be a sacrifice to get a message out. If you are a true local, you should know that part of living right by the park might mean a few sleepless night per year. It is the heart of East Vancouver. Sorry, but the way our democracy works is by getting together somewhere and making a statement. The violent acts were unfortunate, and not directly associated with the message, but as a broader anarchist statement.

We too want a better park, but we do not want a new park to go through with no real consultation except for "family oriented" friends of grandview. As far as shutting it down for a year as a means of saving money, give me a break. A better way to save money would be not to move everything and instead refurbish or replace structures.

By the way, the new park will not have more grass. I have seen the plan, perhaps you should look at it too. It will also have no band stage. I'm sure you might find that pleasing, because it might make for better naptime a few time a year. If we start caving to the demands of residents need to sleep all the time, Vancouver will become a cultureless place - as it already is in most of the city. IF you really feel so strongly MOVE. I'm sure someone else will gladly take your place. Hopefully they understand what comes along with living right by the heard of East Van.

To the Whiner

'Nobody' cares if people drink or smoke weed in the park?  There is a core of yuppies in the area who obviously do, as do members of the area's 'business improvement' ass-ociation, who are spearheading the redesign of the park.  who are these entities to dictate what occurs in the community?  

the park is not your personal refuge, it belongs to a COMMUNITY of people who live all around the area and that is who was there saturday nite.  ya if you don't like what happens in this area, including the park, then MOVE away!

What's the cost of over 100 cops?

One other party goer was asking a very poignant question as I recall - "What's the cost of 100 pigs" I believe he said. What would that cost anyway? It was a very intimidating line up of cops snaking their way across the entire East side of the sidewalk before pushing us back to the other side. Though many were 'well behaved' there was no shortage of short-temepered cops roughly escorting people away and one young man in particular was saved by a crew of people who confronted an officer who was pulling him across the park by the arm.

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