Dear Mr. Hunter:
I am writng to complain about the utter incompetence of the police involved in an incident at the Nellie McClung Library in your city on Saturday, June 5. This was a public meeting to raise funds for journalist Doug Collins. It was sponsored by the Canadian Free Speech League.
I was in attendance as a visitor from Ontario. I was to make a presentation on behalf of the Canadian Association for Free Expression to Mr. Collins defence fund.
On arrival, I was accosted by a camera-toting person who hissed as me: "Don't go into the fascist meeting." On reaching the doors of the lower level meeting room, I found them blocked by four or five protesters. Those entering had to step over these people, who were on library property and were blocking public access. This would be at about 6:35 P.M.. I ascertained that the library staff had already called the police.
The demonstrators, some wearing bandannas to obscure their identity shouted and shoved at some of those entering. I saw Doug Collins shoved from behind by an East Indian youth, Those blocking the doorway posed a danger to the many elderly people struggling to get into the hall.
When the police arrived, they sat up on the street in their cruiser and did nothing. Surely, their job was to allow the protesters to make their point and allow those interested in attending the meeting to do so unimpeded. The police should have kept the rowdy protesters up on the public sidewalk at street level., There they could have waved their signs and shouted their slogans, while those trying to attend the meeting could have entered the hall unimpeded.
The police "laissez faire" attitude utterly disregarded the rights of citizens and taxpayers not to be assaulted and blocked. The refusal of the police to do their job might well have led to injury on the part of some of the elderly attendees. In light of your comments in the Vancouver Province (June 7, 1999) urging the library not to rent space to people like Doug Collins, whose opinions you seem to disapprove of, would it be fair to ask whether the shoddy police performance was a result of orders from the top not to protect the Canadian Free Speech League?
Doug Christie, general counsel for the Canadian Free Speech League, indicated that he'd advised the Saanich police a week in advance that this meeting would be controversial and that their presence would be appreciated. The police failure to control the thuggish demonstrators is a black mark on your city.
I trust that you will launch an investigation and seek to discipline those who uttrely failed "to serve and protect."
Paul Fromm Director
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