Saturday, August 11, 2007

Fortune Unhappiness

The shooting at the Fortune Happiness restaurant near Broadway and Fraser continues to be a major topic of discussion in the neighbourhood. For anyone who still doesn't know, eight people were shot at 4:30 am Thursday, inside the restaurant with the yellow awning across the street from the bus stop for the #8 when it turns from Fraser onto Broadway. Seems that two men in balaclava masks came into the restaurant, one from the back door and one from the front; they focused on one table and shot it up with some fast-repeating guns. Two young men were shot dead and three women and three men at the same table were wounded.

Reportedly, the restaurant had been staying open all night for a while. According to a conversation I heard today, one person said that there were always people playing Mah Jongg at Fortune Happiness and that they thought it was a gambling parlour. Another person said she had always thought there was prostitution being run out of there. Some media implied there were drugs. It could have been all three - or, perhaps none of them. Some people seem to think there is something sleazy per se about all night restaurants, but when a city runs all night people need places to eat all night.

One of the aunties who watches her block and lives near the restaurant observed that police may well have known something was going to happen. She says there were cops in unmarked cars roaming around looking at stuff in the area during the night before the shooting. This seems to contradict the reaction of some people who've called in to the radio saying this stuff wouldn't happen if Vancouver just had a bigger police force. A First Nations mother who lives around the downtown eastside told me the police came to her house Thursday night and questioned her son about the shooting. She said they are always trying to pin all sorts of crimes on him - even though [maybe because?] he is an athlete with leadership potential. She said she had even seen her own name on a list as a suspected drug dealer, which she called ridiculous. You've heard the phrase "round up the usual suspects," right? It's not that much of a joke.

The day of the shooting, when not much news was being released, the CBC-TV midday news featured police saying that they wanted to let people know that this was a "targeted" and not a "random" shooting because they didn't want to hurt the reputation of the neighbourhood. Yes, there are houses for sale around here for 100% more than they went for 5 years ago - back when everyone said it was a bad neighbourhood. Not that we need to have shootings, but I think we need to appreciate our unsavoury elements - the crack-smokers in the alley, the street prostitution, the dog poop and litter on the sidewalks, the drunks sleeping on the street, the KFC and the empty store-fronts. Because if they weren't around, then property values would rise, rich people would move in to replace the great working-class mix we have, and property taxes would be even higher than they are now.

Today, CBC radio reports that police have raided a location of the United Nations gang in Abbotsford and seized some guns they think might be related to the shooting here [although, later that day police were quoted as saying that the United Nations gang had nothing to do with this shooting]. It's called the United Nations gang because it unites members from many races. Let's think of another reason to do that besides drug smuggling, eh?

Being discussed among the neighbours is how we could put an end to this kind of crime like the Fortune Unhappiness shooting, by legalizing, regulating and taxing drugs. A fellow running a weed-eater in the hood yesterday told me that he considers it tragic that some of his relatives are hooked on crack, but he pointed out that when they do get their crack hit they are able to put in a day's work. Having the drugs illegal didn't keep them from getting hooked, and it puts them in bad company and harm's way dealing with their addiction. Imagine how much tax money there would be for rehab, policing, and all kinds of stuff if that huge underground economy could be tapped. Maybe our property taxes could even go down.

No comments:

Post a Comment