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Michaelle Jean Visits East Vancouver

The last thing Vancouver needs is another Robert Dziekanski. Picture this. Governor General Michaelle Jean, Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu,…

By Darren Fleet , in Blogs East Van Rapporteur , on January 25, 2008

Governor General Michaelle Jean.

The last thing Vancouver needs is another Robert Dziekanski.

Picture this.

Governor General Michaelle Jean, Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu, 150 urban artists, and Maestro Fresh Wes are in a room at the Centre A Urban Arts Forum at Carrall and Hastings.

Michaelle Jean says art can bring change to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Jim Chu says incidents of excessive police force are rare, a lone youth says the biggest issue he faces in the Downtown Eastside is police brutality, and Maestro Fresh Wes says yo.

Jean gives a speech to start the evening and finishes it early. She stops to take a breath, collect her thoughts, and turns the speech over on the lecturn. You can hear a pin drop when she goes outside of the message. She talks about her trip to a women’s centre in the Downtown Eastside, about resilience in the face of adversity. The audience is moved.

The mic is passed.

Artists talk about community and funding and hope. Homeless people watch from the outside through the large glass windows as the people inside talk about their neighborhood.

People clap. The host keeps the discussion moving along.

Midway through the first question and answer session, blue and red lights fill the auditorium and police sirens drown out the speaker on the mic. A crowd member yells:Police standing around after the take down.

“There is police brutality right there! An unnecessary beating right there!”

Everyone in the crowd remembers what the youth at the begining had said. A moment of pandemonium ensues. The room sounds like a plane about to crash. Everyone can see through the glass.

More than six police officers are on top of a suspect in the middle of the Carrall-Hastings intersection. A taser is used. The man is screaming.

Michaelle Jean is in the front row.

Welcome to Vancouver.