Maybe part of the reason there’s so much action around gang-fighting is because there’s a crackdown on gangland killings in Metro Vancouver this year.
Police chiefs across the region have been stung by fatal shooting after fatal shooting.
But gang war has always been part of life in the Lower Mainland — and maybe it always will be. It’s just that law-enforcement workers now aren’t the only ones holding people back.
The bloody feuds between the gangs — under the umbrella of the East End Clique, East End Boyz and East End Orange Crush — are old-fashioned battles that already have been taking place at length over the past few decades, roughly.
To some extent, it’s been one fight after another, and the gang war has had its share of deaths and injuries.
And now, the latest death from gang-related violence seems to reflect the desperate fight for survival from many here who believe a new battle is already underway, involving shadowy groups of young gangsters bent on turning the other cheek.
Some of these young gangsters are similar to the figures who have already shot up in recent years.
Vince Li, son of a one-time president of the East End Clique, is understood to have been assassinated at a Burnaby video store earlier this month.
A shooting to the hospital of The Dodgers, another single-family residence on the same street, on Aug. 17 was the latest in a string of killings to stem from the deadly feud.“The school has already closed. The dog has stopped running,” said one high school student who knew the elder Li as a friend. “He always goes with the gang, but not right now.”
Police have no credible evidence yet to connect the two, police spokeswoman Kathy Fox told the Vancouver Sun.
She said the shooting might be the work of a rival gang, and she said that the most serious threat to public safety comes from gang violence — not gang wars — but it’s not a surprise.“There’s always been ongoing problems with gangs,” Fox said. “B gangs on Lower Mainland we usually deal with is always something happening between brothers. It’s more of a power struggle.”
The police probe is in its early stages, and the truth will take weeks, if not months, to find out.
According to sheriff deputy Robert Hubbard, the 23-year-old Lee was shot in the chest by “some individuals” while confronting someone who had exited an SUV and began to get out of the vehicle.Dr. Kathryn Walsh, a gang expert with the Vancouver Police Department, noted that “The last couple of shootings that people have talked about here, it’s not just a gang shooting or a gang-related shooting. But gang violence is a plague that certainly has to be dealt with, and we are doing everything we can.”
But knowing the scourge is out there, Hubbard said he understands why people are putting off taking extreme action.“It’s an action mentality, and we just need to do what we can,” he said. “When people feel under no pressure to do anything, they get complacent, and they just sit back and think it’s going to end tomorrow.”
Even in his day-to-day life, Hubbard said gang violence was around from when he was in the youth gangs at both Vancouver’s West End and East End.
He said the “commitment and honesty” of some gang members showed in his dealings with The Dodgers was nice, but until these rivalries go away, most people tend to keep their emotions in check.
Hubbard speculated that the resurrection of West End gangsters will make it harder for other gangs to fight back, and that violence will continue to exist in that community.