Tone versus context

Is it just me or is there something odd about the tone of CTV Winnipeg’s 6 p.m. report on a bust of the HA clubhouse on Thursday?

What’s the gag and why the smiling? Did I miss something?

The Province moved in to temporarily  — note: temporarily — seize the Scotia Street hangout under the criminal property forfeiture act. The home’s owner has 40 days to appeal, and he likely will.

Not sure if CTV’s intention was to give the story a lighthearted tone or not, but it struck me as odd.

I have no issue with Stacey Ashley personally, she’s an awesome reporter.

But I thought the seizure was the kind of story that could have benefited from a more serious take out of the issues surrounding gangs and policing in the city.

Not just pictures of cops mugging for the cameras lifting a deadhead gate onto the back of a flatbed.

The long-standing war between the HA and law-enforcement around the world is serious business and should be treated as such, in my opinion. Too many people — some of them totally innocent — have died for it to be in any way kinda funny.

Aside: The comment about the unnamed nearby resident wanting for years to come out and paint pink polkadots on the HA’s front gate, but now he won’t have to … was kind of nauseating.

The point of this:

Anyone who thinks it’s the last we’ve seen of the gang in Manitoba would be sorely mistaken.

Today’s CTV story also kind of rubs me a little wierd, in a ‘bigger picture’ kind of way.

Just before Kelly Dehn passed the torch of the ‘Crimewatch’ beat to Ms. Ashley, he had been reporting exclusively on a supposed epidemic of HA-versus-Rock Machine, biker-related violence that was due to break out and besiege the city at any day.

With that in mind, how is it that today’s story about the “symbolic” dismantling of the HA by taking away their hangout — and the larger implications for the hollow future of the gang —  could make any sense at all?

They’re either powerless and [mostly] in prison, or their not. And that doesn’t happen in a matter of 4 months, and in the wake of Project Divide, which took more than 30 HA-affiliates off the street.

And if they’re not in prison [or even if they are] they’re gonna find ways to make money.

Mail a letter from jail and mark it ‘disclosure’ and the right people get their orders.

That’s what it’s all about for the HA, for the most part. The money. Not indiscriminate killing and shootings and violence. It’s about money.

Police officers taking a house away from them and selling it looks good on TV for a newscast, but it’s not going to halt the big red machine.

The police know this too well.

What I’m more interested in is why the local media don’t take more of an interest in the efforts in Manitoba to police gangs like the Indian Posse or the Native Syndicate?

From a viewpoint of what actually matters to the public — public safety — it’s gangs like this that pose far more risk to society as a whole than the relatively small number of HA or Zig-Zag Crew in the province.

In the past year, I can count a number of things the cops and Manitoba Justice have done to right the wrongs these street gangs pose, so to speak.

Last June [June 2009] the RCMP served notice that they were seeking to designate the IP a criminal organization. A key move that could clear the way for harsher prison terms for IP members in the future.

CBC sayeth:

RCMP pursue gang charge

Bruyere has long been a high-profile target of RCMP gang investigators.

He was already in custody at Manitoba’s Milner Ridge Correctional Centre when he was arrested on the murder charge.

He was charged with assaulting a woman on the Peguis First Nation in July 2009 and has been in custody ever since.

RCMP alleged that assault was committed to further the interests of the Indian Posse, and based on that claim, Bruyere was also charged with participation in a criminal organization.

He is the first member of the street gang to face such a charge, which has not been proven in court.

Police have used the charge to combat motorcycle gangs like the Hells Angels in the past.

Their use of it in connection with the Indian Posse is an indication of the group’s increasing sophistication over the last few years.

They’ve also sought out special peace bond applications against IP members about to be released from prison so they can keep tabs on them for a while while out in the community.

CBC Sayeth:

An unrepentant Manitoba gang member, set for release from prison next week, has said he will continue to commit crime.

Christopher Brass, a 28-year-old member of the Indian Posse, is nearing the completion of a 6½-year sentence for a violent robbery spree and for assaulting a prison guard. He has served the entire sentence behind bars, which is unusual in Canada where prisoners are often released after serving two-thirds of their time.

He will be freed on July 14.

According to parole board documents, Brass refused to get help while in prison, which is why he was not released early. The documents also state that he will likely reoffend.

Brass has admitted plans to continue his criminal lifestyle, according to court documents obtained by CBC News. The reports state that Brass said he would continue to commit crime and collect welfare.

Police are cited in the report as saying Brass assaults people for sheer enjoyment and thinks robbery is the easiest way to make a buck.

They were so concerned about him being back on the streets that they requested a special court order — and won. For the next two years, Brass will be bound by a peace bond forcing him into counselling.

The order also allows police to conduct curfew checks and require Brass to notify them if he changes his address.

Such orders are typical for convicted people who avoid jail with a conditional sentence, or are released from prison early. Requesting an order for a gang member who has completed his entire sentence is not something the Winnipeg police service has ever done before.

Crown attorneys have also started using direct indictments against the gang in an effort to show they mean business.

As well,

CBC Sayeth:

Justice Minister Andrew Swan said proposed amendments to the Manitoba Evidence Act would list proven criminal organizations in a government-sanctioned reference document.

The move would eliminate the need for prosecutors to continually have to prove that an entity is a criminal organization in criminal and other court proceedings, Swan said.

“We face the problem of having to essentially prove rocks are hard and water is wet over and over again,” Swan said in a press release. “These changes would establish a single, fair and independent process to determine conclusively whether a group is in fact a criminal organization,” he said.

The proposed legislation is the first of its kind in Canada, Swan said.

So there’s proof out there that something’s being done besides well-publicized takedowns of gang members’ clubhouses.

The ultimate problem is one of gathered intelligence, I think.

The bulk of Manitoba’s police officers are white and male.

The bulk of the street gangs are young, of various ethnic origins and strongly dislike the police and what they stand for. The mistrust is rampant.

For years, police have made great strides infiltrating biker gangs through informants, undercover operations and surveillance.

When it comes to city street gangs, however, things clearly get more complicated.

The tactics have to change, but it’s difficult.

You do things like turn to the internet to find out what you can, but ultimately, it’s a tough go, which is why well-funded intervention and diversion programs are so crucial for kids these days.

Make it so they won’t join up with a set and you’ve attacked the root of the problem on a number of levels.

That includes policing and law-enforcement.

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