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Pidgin Restauranteur Steals Papier Mache Protest Mascot, Makes False Allegations against Protester Leading to Their Arrest

by Pidgin Picket

For Immediate Release

Tues June 4th, 2013

Pidgin restaurateur steals papier mache protest mascot, makes false allegations against protester leading to their arrest

Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish territories —  On Monday June 3rd, Pidgin picketer Kim Hearty was arrested outside her home and charged with mischief, theft under $5,000, and assault. The arrests are based on hypocritical allegations made by Pidgin Restaurant co-owner Brandon Grossutti following an incident on May 29 when he took the "People’s Pickle" from the picket outside his restaurant. The People’s Pickle is a satirical papier mache mascot that has been a fixture at the picket since Grossutti countered claims that Pidgin is exclusionary to low-income residents by bragging that a dish of pickles was "only" $6.

Hearty saw Grossutti carry the stolen mascot into the back room of the restaurant through a door in the alley. Grossutti refused verbal requests to return the mascot and used physical force to push Hearty away from the door.

The Vancouver Police Department was nearby during the incident and despite receiving reports that Grossutti had stolen the mascot, declined to take any action. But one week later, on the basis of Grossutti's fantastical account of the incident, Hearty was arrested at her home for:

•  alleged "theft" of a bucket being used as a door stop (which she did not take and which is still being used as a door stop) to the room where Grossutti kept the stolen mascot,

•  "assault" for being pushed by Grossutti to keep her away from the mascot he stole,

•  "mischief," ostensibly under the VPD's likely unconstitutional interpretation that protesting commercial enterprises interferes with consumer's "enjoyment" of private property, and is therefore punishable under the criminal code.

The charges have not yet been dropped. Grossutti's actions are pathetic and his allegations are absurd, but the fact that the police department is using its resources to do Grossutti's dirty work is not amusing. Gentrification is taking an increasing and serious toll on the neighbourhood, with over 400 low-income housing units being lost within a one-block radius of the Woodward's development in the past year. As a response to the the VPD working with gentrifying businesses to criminalize protest and poverty, picketers are promising to not only continue the Pidgin Picket, but to expand it to other high-end restaurants that are opening in the neighbourhood.

Show your support for low-income residents of the Downtown Eastside Tuesday to Friday between 6 pm and 7 pm across the street from Pigeon Park at Hastings and Carrall.

Pidgin Picket Backgrounder:

The Pidgin Picket began on February 5th and has continued 5 days a week for 18 weeks. The Pidgin restaurant is in a building where 30 low-income families were evicted before the Olympics. The developer Salient Group built condos and leased out the ground floor to Grossutti to create a high-end restaurant across the street from Pigeon Park, an important gathering place for the low-income community and site of the weekly street market. The Pidgin Picket has created broad awareness throughout the city that retail upscaling is a key component of the gentrification process that drives out poor people.

The police and City Hall have been unable to contain or end the Pidgin Picket with the general police harassment and threats, which reached a fever pitch in the past month with a VPD news conference threatening to criminalize the picket, and the arrest of one picketer, Robin Pickell. With the arrest of Kim Hearty, the police tactic of isolating individual picketers and, through implication, threatening all picketers and all protesters in general, continues to escalate.

Police harassment, arrest, and ticketing has been a tactic successfully used by City Hall to push low-income people out of sight or off gentrifying blocks. A recent Pivot Legal Society report reveals that in the last 4 years 95% of all Vancouver's bylaw and traffic violation tickets were handed out in the Downtown Eastside.

Quotes from the community response to criminalization of poverty and protest:
Longtime picketer and SRO hotel resident Fraser Stuart said, "It's about money privilege, that the rich matter and the poor don't. The police attack us because the Pidgin Picket has the audacity to challenge money privilege in the Downtown Eastside. Pidgin customers' money privilege over the low-income community is why we have been picketing for 3 months. Brandon Grossutti's money privilege is why Kim is arrested and he isn't."

Fraser Stuart sees the arrest of Kim within a bigger police project of pushing the DTES low-income community out of the public eye. "They are getting desperate to end the Pidgin Picket because tourist season is coming," he said. "We have been pointing out inequality in Vancouver, and unless they get rid of us soon we could be shaming Vancouver on the world stage."

Kim Hearty sees increased police attacks on low-income people and on the picket as complimentary displacement forces. "This week there was a ticketing blitz on the United We Can bottle depot block. The police swept the block and gave bylaw and traffic violation tickets to everyone who didn't flee. That’s how the police get rid of the low-income community from the sidewalk, by creating tickets, criminalizing people, for being poor," she said. "And this is how they are trying to get rid of the picket, by criminalizing the picketers … one by one. But it's going to the have the opposite effect, like the anti-gentrification protests in Istanbul that just grow and grow the more the corrupt government tries to repress them."

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Flailing and Stuttering

The Pidgin picketeers are frustrated by the failure of their enterprise. They are acting out. In consequence, the police began issuing official Notices of Warning. Their first two recipients, Robyn Claire Pickell and Kim Hearthy, have now been arrested.

Wendy Pederson will be next, as she has already received a police warning. She will likely be in jail within a week. Young Nicholas Ellan will escape because his parents are both West Van lawyers, and one of them a judge. He's safe.

Their whole picket is now completely off-message. Even Pederson admits the pickle, and their attempts to get it back, is a "damaging distraction".

Their rising frustration is over the picket's failure to change anything at all. Three months later they have nothing to show for it. Not one thing -- but bad PR for themselves, and the forced resignation of Drury and Pederson from the Carnegie Action Project for fear of losing Vancity money.

Not-Homeless Dave's "hunger strike" achieved nothing for the same reasons.

The picketers' fundamental flaws are two.

1) they chose a silly target. A restaurant has nothing to do with housing, and is a feeble symbol of 'gentrification'. By making the restaurant appear the victim, this picket has given them tons of free PR, and overwhelming public support.

Their tactics are self-indulgent and will only "succeed" when the restaurant closes. Given that this is not likely for another 10 or 15 years, the picketers are condemned to impotence by their own hand -- for years. What a plan.

2) they represent no one. There are 16,000 people in the DTES. How many actually show up to their pickets? Less than ten people. Less than half of one percent of the total people. Those are shoddy numbers. What an army.

As has been pointed out many times by others, the people who spend their lives at Pigeon Park totally ignore the protestors. They can't be bothered to walk even a few feet in solidarity. Whining about a restaurant has zero impact on their lives, and they couldn't care less that Pickell and Hearty are in jail, and Pederson soon will be.

Running a picket at the wrong place, with zero constituency, and no end in sight -- this is not the usual predictor of success.

Chasing after fake pickles makes it official:  this is now just a sideshow, like stealing a sandwich sign or complaining about donuts.

Apart from that, what's not to like? Drug dealers get to protect their turf, and land developers get to build their boxes. Dealers and developers, both safe at home in the ghetto that the picketers defend. Is Canada a great country, or what? 

The commenter above me is a cop

That is all.

Wrong Again, Nick

Sorry Nick, but your wrong again as in so many other things.

You think you are defending the poor. You are actually defending the ghetto.

If you really wanted to protect the poor of the DTES, you would go after the pimps and drug dealers who exploit them so callously, every day of the year.

But VANDU would never allow you to do that, would they?

Not Capitalism

No, capitalism is in no way exloitative of poor people, only people who are foced into predator/prey modes of survival by it.

You motherfuckers so unbelievably full of shit!!!!

Yes, Drug Dealing is Capitalism

Drug dealers represent the very worst of capitalism. They make Chinese coal mines look benign.

Drug dealers are greedy beyond measure. They sell crap at a very high markup, and couldn't give a damn about quality. Thanks to the fact of addiction, they have a captive clientele. Even so, they regularly kill their own customers. They break every law on the books. They do everything they can to avoid paying taxes. They hire goons to enforce their profitability. Sound familiar?

Remember Ashley Machisknic? We do.

Drug dealers are the most predatory and remorseless capitalists in the DTES. Like sharks they operate without conscience of any kind. For them, it's all about money, and sustaining addiction.

The so-called "Marxists" who run these pointless demos are afraid to call out the drug dealers for the capitalist exploiters that they are.

VANDU would never allow it.


Hey Nick!

Even your pals at the DENC have repudiated you. This is what they said tonight.



DNC statement on the Pidgin Protest

The DNC shares many of the goals of the anti-gentrification protesters, but feels that the specific actions in front of 350 Carrall St. have served their purpose. The DNC therefor disagrees with the continuation of this action, and calls on the protesters to move on."

From the beginning to the end, your picket line had no support. Anywhere. Nine people does not a mass movement make.

When even Ivan, Wendy and Jean turn against you, it's over.

Find something positive to do, something real to build, and people will follow you. Spend all your time complaining about pickles and donuts? Even the DNC will eventually wise up.


Still ain't sayin' shit

I would have to agree that leftist community organizer operate with a great amount of tunnel vision, but you're still full of shit.

Your just as hypocritical as any other capitalist pig.

How does promoting capitalism and colonization in any way help the people who are forced into these predator/prey modes of survival, whether it's happening on the corner of Main and Hastings, or if it's been pushed out to an apartment building in the 'burbs?

Just looking at you disgusting yuppie pricks is enough to drive someone into that kind of depression.

Yuppie Pricks

Agreed, IG. No question but that the drivers of the pointless Pidgin picket are the children of enormous white, colonizing privilege.

One of them is the son of a well-known tax attorney, and whose mother is the former Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of BC. White West Van privilege doesn't get any better than that.

But does that make him insincere? I don't think so. It just makes him naive. The tunnel vision you describe is part of it. But it's not just metaphorical. It is literal.

Nick and his pals don't understand what it means when, right across the damn street, just ten feet away, their revolutionary picket is totally ignored by the people who live in Pigeon Park.

Their pointless picket is ignored, day after day, by the people it is supposedly defending. The people of Pigeon Park think so little of their efforts that they can't be bothered to walk nine feet to join them. And Nick doesn't see it -- or understand the meaning of their utter apathy toward him.

Three days ago, a jaywalker was killed on Hastings at Pigeon Park. The police said he was 60. Not true. He was 49, and lived in Pigeon Park, ignoring Nick and his pals. He was an addict, and recently had taken to drinking Listerine. Every witness agrees that the car was driving under the speed limit, and that this guy simply lurched out onto the street. Killed instantly.

The yuppies you describe can worry as much as they like about their paper maché pickles being stolen. All very revolutionary.

But if they REALLY cared about the actual humans who live in Pigeon Park, they might try -- even a bit -- to defend them from the real predators, the drug dealers and the pimps. Ground zero of human suffering and exploitation.

However, VANDU would never allow it. And it would take too much time away from their real joy, which is ideological posing in front of a restaurant.

It's enough to give yuppies a bad name.


That's all very noble Greg ...

Hey Renouf, lets humour you for a second. You want a bunch of Carnegie advocates and lefty-reformist student activists to what? ... start picketing drug dealers and pimps instead of that stupid restaurant?

Sounds like a great way to get some well-meaning dorks hospitalized. 

Also, stop posting people's personal information like that, it's fucking creepy ...


True Nobility

You're right, Sid.

The Carnegie Pidgin picketers should do it your way, and all wear masks.

It will confuse the drug dealers and the pimps, and please you. All in the name of "risk management", as you put it.

Who needs courage when you can wear masks?

Thanks! A good idea.

As insane as that is ...

It makes more sense than anything else you're suggesting here.

Found many information,

Found many information, alleged "theft" of a bucket getting used as a door stop (which she failed to take and that continues to be getting used as a door stop) to the area wherever Grossutti unbroken the taken being

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And now it's over

Quelle surprise!

On their website just three hours ago, the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council, published this:


DNC statement on the Pidgin Protest

The DNC shares many of the goals of the anti-gentrification protesters, but feels that the specific actions in front of 350 Carrall St. have served their purpose. The DNC therefor disagrees with the continuation of this action, and calls on the protesters to move on."

Finally they have realized that they have been spinning their wheels, making enemies, achieving nothing, and going nowhere.

Finally they admit what others have been saying for months. Picketing a restaurant, and complaining about pickle prices, makes a joke and a farce of the whole issue.

If you demand social housing, why picket a little restaurant? If you represent the people of Pigeon Park, why do they all refuse to join your picket line?

This whole demonstration was badly conceived from the beginning. Tonight, it falls apart in internal division. No one is surprised. Everyone else knew it from the beginning.


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