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Pride Parade crime-free, but …

Celebration of Light not so much

The Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) says about 170,000 people attended the annual Pride Parade in the West End Jul 31. That’s an apparent increase in attendance of about 10,000 people over 2004.

Although there were some reports among Pride Society volunteers of an arrest about 2:15 pm near Denman and Barclay, a spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) says there were no significant incidents related to the parade that required police attention.

“There is absolutely no safety issues with the parade; nothing,” Vancouver Police Chief Jamie Graham told Xtra West, Jul 31 while he was waiting his turn to march.

“I don’t recall anything from a policing perspective come up,” he continues. “The things we worry about is heat stroke and kids running into traffic. My wife and sister-in-law are down here somewhere and I just worry they don’t get into the sun too much.”

The previous evening, Jul 30, marked the last night for the Celebration of Light fireworks competition. Over the four nights of the event, organizers estimated a total of 1.4 million spectators along the shores of English Bay.

The VPD reported 171 liquor seizures, 21 fights, 10 assaults, 26 arrests and six incidents involving pepper spray.

“Officers noticed, in particular, a number of large fights this year, sometimes with 20 to 30 people involved,” wrote a VPD spokesperson in a press release. “While trying to break up one of these fights at Robson and Burrard, two officers were pepper sprayed.

“Lots of knives were seized this year, including a man wearing body armour who was arrested last night [Jul 30] after a short pursuit.

“Most of the problems occurred when people were leaving the event,” the press release continues. “There will be a debrief with Festival officials, the City of Vancouver and the Police Department to examine better ways to deal with the problems, including a look at better crowd management techniques.”