Cops shut down concert outside Vancouver's injection site
A free concert at Vancouver's supervised injection site was cancelled after a clash with city officials and police late Thursday afternoon.
Canadian indie rockers Bedouin Soundclash weren't able to play a free concert at a barbecue outside Insite after city officials had the stage taken down, citing bylaw infractions.
"Because there was no permit, the city came down with crews and hundreds of police officers to shut us down," said volunteer Chris Livingstone.
"We didn't get to feed as many people as we wanted to. We didn't get to see a Juno-winning band that supports Insite. Hopefully they'll come back."
The event, Play Music Not Politics, was shut down shortly before it was set to start at 5:30 p.m. after organizers closed one lane of Hastings Street.
Police said city officials had asked them to enforce a traffic bylaw after the PHS Community Services Society, which operates Insite, was denied a permit for the event.
"We spoke with the organizers and had discussions with city officials on alternative locations," said police spokeswoman Const. Jana McGuinness. "We offered them a permit on a location 100 feet away on Columbia where they could party all night if they wanted to.
"The organizers did not want that. They were adamant to stay on Hastings Street," she added.
Jay Malinowski, lead singer and guitarist of the rock group, suggested the concert.
"Bedouin Soundclash contacted us about doing a free concert and we were all for it," said Mark Townsend, executive director of PHS Community Services Society, which co-runs the clinic with Vancouver Coastal Health.
"With the recent election results, it looks like Insite's future is still very much up in the air and the band wanted to show their support of the work we're doing."
While the stage was dismantled and the band's equipment whisked off to the Commodore Ballroom for their other concert, some Downtown Eastside residents stayed to enjoy the food -- which they would have enjoyed more if not for the heavy police presence, they said.
"They stood shoulder to shoulder and came down the street in a line, shutting the street down and basically pushing everyone into a corner," said Dean Pynn.
Livingstone said traffic was fine until police showed up.
"As soon as they arrived it was chaos. People have events on Hastings all the time without permits. It's interesting that they chose to shut us down. They need to drop the politics already."
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Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (load item map)
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