Monday, November 08, 2010


On Friday November 5 police entered the Camas Books and Infoshop on Quadra Street in Victoria BC and removed computer equipment and other documents for which they had obtained a warrant. The statement of the bookstore follows as originally published in the Vancouver Media Co-op.

This raid followed hard on the heels of an incident in the early morning hours where the car and garage of the Mayor of Victoria Dean Fortin was vandalized. the group which did this sent an email explaining their actions as retaliation for the City of Victoria's continuing war on the homeless. You can read their communique here.

Now I can't say that I am much of a fan of petty vandalism as a "political" tactic. It accomplishes nothing, and feeds nothing but delusions of importance amongst both the perpetrators and their supporters. It was interesting, however, to note how quickly almost all of the "poverty industry" organizations in Victoria fell in line to not only distance themselves from the action (understandable) but more significantly to praise the Mayor for being a good friend of the homeless. I wonder if being recipients of government money has anything to do with such loyalty ? The one notable exception was 'Committee to End Homelessness' who actually voiced criticism of the City's policies.

Another significant thing to note is the speed and diligence of the police response in this case. Something about having their boss pissed off I guess, and having to appear to be diligently hunting down the vandals. I would have serious doubts that any incriminating evidence could be found on the computers at Camas Books. At best it is a data gathering operation for names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. of people unconnected to the vandalism. More busy work for Victoria's equivalent of a Red Squad. I wonder if the Mayor is going to fall for it ?

But before we go on to the communique from Camas consider one more thing. I don't know all that much about Victoria, but I do know that in the city where I live the police would be highly unlikely to even show up for a broken window and some graffiti. Let alone go through the motions of pretending to search for the vandals. Once more something about actually personally pissing off the boss. Some are indeed served and protected better than others.

In any case here is the communique from Camas.
Police Raid Camas Educational Bookstore
by Camas Educational Bookstore

Police Raid Camas Educational Bookstore
Victoria, BC on November 5, 2010: the Victoria Police Department entered Camas Books, 2590 Quadra Street with a warrant to search and seize computer equipment and documents. Four volunteers were detained while officers searched the premise, seizing 2 computers, a Camas Educational Society annual report, and Shaw and Telus account bills.

The Camas Educational Society is a not-for-profit registered society that functions collectively to operate the volunteer run Camas Books and Info. Camas Books first opened its doors in September 2007, with the intention of providing a voice for social justice perspectives, and helping to foster a spirit of solidarity with other such struggles taking place globally. The Camas Collective has a mandate to keep the store and space as accessible and inclusive as possible in order to provide free access to internet and print information that follows our mission statement, akin to a library.

The Camas collective has received no information from police about any incident that the search and seizure may be pertaining to, or what lead police to the book store.

For more information on Camas Books or the Camas Educational Society go to

Media Contacts: Meaghan MacDonald Email: Meaghan.j.macdonald(at) Phone: 250-896-7588


Larry Gambone said...

Why don't they raid the Victoria Public Library too? It could also be the source of the email.

Camas is having financial problems as their rent has been raised. Maybe this harassment is designed to destroy the store.

art store staff said...

Leaving a tag is petty vandalism. But combining graffiti with a manifesto promising that the perpetrator will "fuck you up" goes beyond petty vandalism in a big way. This is serious stuff.

9:07 PM
Blogger mollymew said...

"This obviously belongs as a comment on the previous post. I obviously disagree with the commentator about the "seriousness" of the matter. To my minds the vandalism was indeed petty and the "manifesto" childish. The only "serious" consequence is that it leads to hysteria about the so-called threat the vandals might pose, and this is only ! serious to those who actually oppose the policies of civic governments such as Victoria's.
If you want "serious stuff" in the news recently takea look at the Hrper government's promise to keep troops in Afghanistan after the proposed withdrawal date next year."

The fact that Fortin's wife and two pre-teen daughters were asleep in this small house at the time of the attack is a big mitigating factor, as well as the promise to "fuck you up". How are we to know the motivation and intent of the attacker(s)? Is it a lone prankster? Or a group capable of violence? Nobody knows where this is going. Call it hysteria if you insist.

Now, I don't mean to say that the raid is linked to the vandalism. It could be unrelated. Let's let the police sort it out.

Larry, the police would raid the library if they had probable cause.

robertrandall said...

^Sorry, I meant to post the above comment under my own name "Robert Randall", not "art store staff". I didn't realize Blogger had already logged me in.

mollymew said...

No problem Robert, though I admit I went on the search and found out same. You're dealing with a serious paranoic here.

In any case I'll assume that when you said "mitigating" in your post you meant "aggravating". That is, however, quite minor. What I am sure Larry meant is that it is far more likely that the email was sent from a place such as the public library (or an internet cafe or some other public source computer) that wouldn't be traceable to a particular political organization. I said as much when I opined that I had serious doubts that the police could find anything on the Camas computers.

Larry has his own opinion about the possible "why" of what the police did. I have my own which are MUCH more related to the petty politics of gathering names as "busy work" and "appearing" to be doing something when the cops have a fire lit under their tail.

I have little doubt that the vandals will eventually be arrested. They are not only NOT "great political theorists". They are also undoubtedly as bad at crime as they are at politics. The usual way they get caught is that they cannot forbear from bragging about their exploits over and over until it comes to the ears of those criminals who the police allow to commit crimes as long as they feed them useful information that makes a police department look good.

THAT is their "emotional stupidity", but it is quite a step up from this to imagine that they are dumb enough to send a claim for a crime from a computer connected to an anarchist group. THAT would be incomprehensible unless they were being manipulated by the very police that claim to be so hot to trot to catch them.

We're left only with the "when" of when they will be caught. I predict that it will be at a time that gives the maximum good PR to the Victoria police. We'll see.

I have a lot more to say about this, but I certainly have a great amount of worry about your apoparent approval of the idea of the police accessing any and all data from a public library. All this for a crime that probably occurs DOZENS OF TIMES EVERY SINGLE NIGHT OF THE YEAR in the City of Winnipeg where I live. As I said, no cop is going to show up here because you had your car windows busted or you had graffiti painte on your garage. You go down to the copshop yourself buddy if you want to file a report for insurance purposes. Christ, here the police don't even show up for the usual house break-in unless the burgler is still present.

Unless, of course, you are the Mayor. In which case there is a great buzz and show of "doing something" for purposes other than actually catching a criminal.

For THIS you think the police should be able to access any and all data on ANYONE EVERYWHERE. "Probable cause" = "anything the police say". You have truly touching faith in the eternal good nature of law enforcement and its equally eternal rationality. It's a scary thought.

More later.