Posts Tagged ‘gangs’

Death of the Cool

February 2, 2008

A few nights ago I was walking through the cold, wet streets in the area of downtown that straddles the shiny business district to the west and the grotty downtown eastside.  This is the area around Cambie Street.

A guy started following me and called after me.  I knew I didn’t want to know.  I kept walking.  He kept calling and following.  I kept walking. When he called for the fourth time, I finally turned and said, “What?”  He asked if I wanted to buy any weed.  “No!”, I snapped.

He’d followed me for two blocks.  Two blocks!  What kind of asshole follows someone at night for two blocks trying to sell him drugs he hasn’t expressed any interest in?  Remember when grass used to be ‘cool’?  We’ve come a long way since Kerouac.

This is nothing compared to what you’ll encounter just a few blocks to the east.  After walking past people shooting up in the street, when you reach the corner the twenty or so humanoids standing there ask you in series if you want rock.  You say, “No” to the first then the next one asks, despite being only three feet away.  They couldn’t have not heard you say “no”.  Then the next one, another two or three feet away,  asks.  All this happens in broad daylight, even in plain view of the police station.

Returning to the dealer over on Cambie, even if I had been looking, what should I think about his product if he has to chase me through the streets to push it?  Be cool, crusty, be cool.  I know it’s a lot to ask…

The area attracts a certain type due to the presence of various organizations and businesses promoting the legality and use of marijuana.  One of them is the aptly named Amsterdam Cafe, just around the corner from where Crusty McDusty finally realized I wasn’t shopping; an oasis of indulgence where customers smoke joints and pipes despite a smoking ban in public places.  Cigarette smokers in bars have to step outside, but an aromatic cloud hovers over Amsterdam.

Is there a connection between the intrepid bush pusher and the ‘cool’ people at the cafe?  He didn’t seem smart enough to be in business for himself.  Then again, how smart do you have to be to figure out that if the crack and scag dealers can get away with selling under the cops’ noses, a grass mover is probably safe enough?

Meanwhile, the gangsters fighting over the BC bud industry are shooting each other in restaurants, cars, and homes.  Innocent people have been killed in the crossfire.  Connect the dots.

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Eating Out Is Getting Dangerous

February 1, 2008

There is a gangland style killing for every wallet.  It doesn’t matter where you eat or socialize, you may be a witness to – or victim of – the latest episode in the gang wars that have broken out in greater Vancouver.  These killings could have been lifted straight out of the movies or the Sopranos finale.

A few months ago, just four blocks from my home, gunmen walked into a Chinese restaurant on East Broadway, approached a table, and opened up.  Two people were killed and others were wounded, including young girls.  I assume they were the girlfriends.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve passed that restaurant.  I used to be a regular customer at a bakery directly opposite it, before it closed, and have used the bus stop outside the former bakery many times.  The bullet hole in the window of the restaurant is enough to make you think about the possibility of innocent victims of stray bullets.

A few weeks later, gunmen fired shots through the window of a more upmarket restaurant on West 4th.  It has a reputation as one of the more romantic restaurants in town, I believe, but love wasn’t in the air that night.  A known gangster was killed.  It was only by luck that no one was killed by stray bullets, again.

A few weeks ago, a man with a past was gunned down outside a well known downtown steak house that’s so expensive I had to win a contest to eat there the one time I did.  It happened in full view of other diners inside, including the rest of his party who were waiting for him.

It doesn’t seem to matter where you go or how much you can afford to spend, there’s no guarantee you can escape it.  You’re not safe anywhere.

What are restaurants supposed to do – screen customers to keep out the targets?  How?  Should they ask customers, “Are you now, or have you ever been, involved with a criminal gang?”  I don’t think they’ll volunteer that information.

There is talk of the police working with restaurants as they did with nightclubs.  They visited the clubs, identified known criminals, and made it clear they were not wanted there.  I don’t know how they’ll adapt that to restaurants.  There are a lot more restaurants than nightclubs.  Maybe they’ll just distribute names and pictures of criminals so the restaurants can refuse entry.  That would take a pretty brave Maitre d’.

Whatever they do, I hope it works.