May 16, 2013 3:40 pm

Mayor responds to anarchists claiming responsibility for house fire

Vancouver Police say they have received an e-mail claiming “anti-gentrification anarchists” are responsible for a house fire Wednesday morning.

The blaze destroyed a new home under construction on East 1st Avenue near Victoria Drive and damaged a home next door. No one was injured.

The e-mail, posted on the Anarchist News website, says the home was targeted as part  of increasing gentrification in East Vancouver.

The e-mail reads:

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“Last night we burned down a yuppie development on 1st ave near Victoria. We are tired of seeing our lives and memories being torn down one development at a time. We wish and will create fear for developers in East Vancouver. The class war is heating up. We have no intention on stopping. If we, if you, allow this continue you will be pushed out of East Vancouver due to rising rent and gentrification. If you are the cause of gentrification you should never feel safe. For a world where no one is homeless, hassled by police, the state or capitalists. (A)GF.”

Police confirm the fire is arson but say they can’t yet definitively link the e-mail to the fire.

Investigators are working to determine the source of the e-mail.

“This was a dangerous and careless act by someone that could have resulted in the injury or death of innocent people if not for the quick actions of the police officers who discovered the blaze and evacuated the occupants of the homes on either side,” says Cst. Brian Montague.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson issued a statement Thursday, saying he is in close contact with Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu.

“The alleged arson of a house under construction is of significant concern to me, especially in light of extremist claims made online,” says Robertson.

“Innocent lives could have been lost. I would like to thank our first responders for their immediate action to evacuate the neighbouring homes. Violence of any kind will not be tolerated in the City of Vancouver, and any criminal acts will be investigated and responded to with every resource at our disposal.”

A similar message was posted on the same website earlier this year, claiming responsibility for smashing the windows of a new pizza restaurant on Commercial Drive and an HSBC bank branch.

Anti-gentrification protests outside the Pidgin restaurant on Carrall Street near Hastings Street in the Downtown Eastside have been winding down after the arrest of a protester.

On Monday, police arrested 25-year-old Robyn Claire Pickell. She is accused of trying to lock and chain the restaurant’s doors while staff were working inside.

A block away, iconic Downtown Eastside diner Save-on-Meats had their sandwich board sign stolen in March.

A photo was sent to the restaurant’s owner, Mark Brand, showing two protesters wearing black balaclavas, posing with the sign.  The sign was later replaced.

Anti-gentrification protesters have vowed to keep up the fight against businesses and development they say displaces low-income residents.

© Shaw Media, 2013

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