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UPDATE: Xtra boxes targeted

Police say possible hate crime

"It takes a certain amount of strength and I would suggest fury to pull that clip out and that's what concerns me," says Pink Triangle Press's engagement director Gareth Kirkby. Fourteen Xtra Vancouver boxes were targeted over Christmas. Credit: Robin Perelle photo

Jan 4, 2pm

Xtra‘s boxes continue to be targeted by one or more vandals, says Pink Triangle Press’s engagement director Gareth Kirkby.

It seems somebody stole the latest issue within 48 hours of its distribution last week, Kirkby says. 

“We’ve seen the wholesale removal of issues along Davie and Denman St.”

Some of the gay paper’s street boxes have also been damaged again, their front clips ripped out just days after being repaired from the first round of destruction.

Dec 31, 8pm

Fourteen Xtra boxes were targeted by one or more vandals over Christmas, their front clips ripped out and their papers stolen.

“It takes a certain amount of strength and I would suggest fury to pull that clip out, and that’s what concerns me,” says Pink Triangle Press’s engagement director Gareth Kirkby, who looks after distribution for the Xtra papers here and in Ontario.

Kirkby says he first noticed the damage to one box on Dec 26 but thought it was an isolated incident. “We have always experienced a low level of harassment that’s undesirable but not extremely alarming,” he says.

Then he got a call from one of Xtra‘s distributors. It wasn’t an isolated incident.

Twelve more boxes had been hit. Kirkby called the police.

This is “far and above what we’ve experienced in the past,” he says. “This we find quite alarming.”

“The energy that’s required, the persistence to rip out a part that is very deliberately anchored in, suggests that this person has some significant issues,” Kirkby says. 

“Somebody walking the streets out there has a real hate-on for the gay and lesbian community.”

“I understand that people are not targeting Xtra with this; they’re targeting the gay community. We’re just a stand-in for the community,” he says.

Among the stand-alone street boxes, only Xtra was attacked, Kirkby notes. But in at least one multiple-publication box on Hornby St the only other gay publication, LOV magazine, was also targeted, its clip ripped out in the same way. No other publication was touched.

To systematically rip out the clips on 14 gay publication boxes from Gastown to English Bay suggests an obsession, Kirkby says, concerned the fury may escalate.

“We need to get this person help as fast as possible.”

Kirkby recalls another vandal in Ottawa who targeted Xtra boxes a few years ago. “It escalated,” he says. The vandal began painting “Kill gays” on the boxes.

Police eventually arrested one man who said his god made him do it. The courts designated it a hate crime. The man got psychiatric help, Kirkby says.

Kirkby hopes whoever is behind Vancouver’s Christmas box attack will be apprehended soon too — “before they do more damage.”

Vancouver police say they’re investigating the vandalism as a possible hate crime.
 
“We’re not ruling anything out at this point,” says Const Jana McGuinness, noting that so far the number of vandals and their motivation remains unknown.

“What’s unsettling is that those were the only newspaper boxes targeted,” she says. None of the other boxes adjacent to Xtra‘s street boxes were damaged, so it appears the gay paper was deliberately targeted. 

McGuinness says the hate crime team has been brought in to review the case as it proceeds.

So far police have no suspects, but they’re hoping video surveillance footage from nearby businesses may provide some clues.
 
Anyone with any information is asked to call the Vancouver Police Department or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.