Vancouver police raided a home connected to a series of anti-pipeline graffiti, sparking questions about the motive behind their visit.
On Tuesday, approximately 16 officers entered the home, linked to the "No pipelines" graffiti seen all over the city, according to a blog post published Wednesday on Warrior Publications. The entry claims four residents, including the website's editor (identified as Gord Hill by the Georgia Straight), and one guest "were removed one by one by police aiming pistols at them."
They were reportedly placed in a prisoner transport van parked outside while officers conducted the search, according to the post. When they returned to the house later that day, they found a search warrant for “graffiti vandalism paraphernalia."
Spray paint, USB keys, external hard drives, a camera, cell phones with photo capability, photographs, a black knapsack, and a black hoodie were among the items seized.
The editor criticized the severity of the raid, claiming it was a disproportionate response to charges for "mischief" under $5,000.
"Considering the minor nature of the charges, the raid carried out by the Vancouver police is clearly part of a larger strategy of politically motivated repression against radicals and especially the growing resistance against oil and gas pipelines throughout the province," reads the post.
But Vancouver police deny there was any motive outside of continuing an ongoing investigation into illegal activity.
“Criminal offences have taken place, and we’re investigating those," VPD spokesman Const. Brian Montague told the Georgia Straight. "And part of that is executing a search warrant to gather evidence to prove those offences.”
He also would not comment on whether or not guns were pointed at the group.
"Safety is our priority and that includes the safety of officers who are involved in this aspect of police work," Montague said to The Tyee in an email. "Officers are not required to unnecessarily risk their personal safety."
He confirmed to Metro News that five people were taken into custody and then released, saying "no charges have been laid yet" as the investigation remains ongoing.