Guerre des Motards: Les Gitans contre Les Atomes

Effet La Wild West

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J’ai trouvé l’article suivant tout en faisant quelques recherches sur la sociologie et la culture des gangs dans les années 1970. C’est à partir de la Gazette en 1974. C’est la première page , mais pas au-dessus du pli. Le titre était une photographie d’un membre de la bande de glisser sur la glace au cours annuel de la Journée de St Patrick défilé de Montréal . Apparemment, ce était plus intéressant que la guerre ouverte dans les rues de Sherbrooke .

Je suis en quelque sorte étonné par le niveau de persistance et de la violence décrite . Non seulement un combat éclate avec des fusils et des bâtons de baseball , la mêlée a persisté bas les principales rues de la ville , et même dans l’hôpital local . Vous entendez qu’il y avait plusieurs guerre des motards au Québec, mais nous avons tendance à se concentrer sur les événements liés à la Nomades et Rock Machine dans les années 1990 . La plupart des détails de premières altercations sont perdus. Voici l’article complet de The Gazette :

 Two Killed, three injured in Sherbrooke gang battles

by Ken Ernhofer of The Gazette, Monday, March 18, 1974

Sherbrooke – Five persons were detained by police following motorcycle gang warfare that claimed two lives and seriously injured three men this weekend.

Members of the Gitans (Gypsies) and the Atomes clashed three times, including a brawl in a hospital over a four-hour period that began at 10:30 p.m. Friday.

The Quebec Police Force, which assisted city police, said a battle first flared in the parking lot of a King St. brasserie when 20 gang members fought with guns, chains and baseball bats.

Robert Provencher, 20, an Atome, was shot in the back and Jacques Filteau, 25, a Gitan, was knifed in the abdomen.

The injured men were taken to St. Vincent de Paul hospital. Three hours later gang members pushed aside horrified nurses and attendants and the brawl resumed in the hospital corridors.

Five Gitans then climbed into a car and were chased through the town by six Atomes in a second vehicle.

The second car rammed the first and the battle broke out again with rifles and baseball bats as weapons.

Marc Destafano, 20, was killed when shot in the head and Michel Lamoureux, 19, dies after being shot in the chest.

Police detained five men as material witnesses on a coroner’s warrant after cornering gang members in a house.

Gang feuds have flared since October and on Jan. 29 Mario Bureau, 19, and Mario Demers, 19, members of the Pacific Rebels, were shot to death while riding in a car.

Since the beginning of the year six persons have died in gang warfare in the province.

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Biker War 1974 – Les Gitans v. Les Atomes

Wild West Indeed

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I found the following article while doing some research on sociology and gang culture in the 1970s. This is from The Gazette in 1974. It’s the front page, but not above the fold. The headline was a photograph of a band member slipping on ice during Montreal’s annual St Patrick’s Day parade.  Apparently that was more interesting than open warfare in the streets of Sherbrooke. 

I am sort of astounded by the level of persistence and violence described. Not only did a fight break out with guns and baseball bats, the melee persisted down the main streets of town, and even into the local hospital.  You hear that there were several biker gang wars in Quebec, but we tend to focus on the events related to the Nomads and Rock Machine in the late 1990s. Most of the details of early altercations are lost. Here’s the full article from The Gazette:

Two Killed, three injured in Sherbrooke gang battles

by Ken Ernhofer of The Gazette, Monday, March 18, 1974

Sherbrooke – Five persons were detained by police following motorcycle gang warfare that claimed two lives and seriously injured three men this weekend.

Members of the Gitans (Gypsies) and the Atomes clashed three times, including a brawl in a hospital over a four-hour period that began at 10:30 p.m. Friday.

The Quebec Police Force, which assisted city police, said a battle first flared in the parking lot of a King St. brasserie when 20 gang members fought with guns, chains and baseball bats.

Robert Provencher, 20, an Atome, was shot in the back and Jacques Filteau, 25, a Gitan, was knifed in the abdomen.

The injured men were taken to St. Vincent de Paul hospital. Three hours later gang members pushed aside horrified nurses and attendants and the brawl resumed in the hospital corridors.

Five Gitans then climbed into a car and were chased through the town by six Atomes in a second vehicle.

The second car rammed the first and the battle broke out again with rifles and baseball bats as weapons.

Marc Destafano, 20, was killed when shot in the head and Michel Lamoureux, 19, dies after being shot in the chest.

Police detained five men as material witnesses on a coroner’s warrant after cornering gang members in a house.

Gang feuds have flared since October and on Jan. 29 Mario Bureau, 19, and Mario Demers, 19, members of the Pacific Rebels, were shot to death while riding in a car.

Since the beginning of the year six persons have died in gang warfare in the province.

 

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Short Shafted: The Emmett Till Act

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There’s a great piece in the Sunday New York Times on  the FBI’s follow-up on Civil Rights era cold-cases in the wake of the passing of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act in 2007.  To date, little has been done to close cases, and the FBI’s work appears to be perfunctory.

Here’s the last update from the Department of Justice in 2010 where they claim to have made progress, but since then it would appear that the project has stalled.

However, if you look at the original legislation, you have to wonder if the Justice Department was ever serious about this project:   A scant $10,000,000 in annual appropriations, with a heavy focus on reporting and community relations. I don’t think congress was serious about truth or justice, they simply wanted to turn the page.

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Thoughts on Reeva Steenkamp / Oscar Pistorius

Two stories no one can hide from; Pistorius and The Sequester. Here are my thoughts on the former:

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1. Innocent until proven guilty.

2. To the SteenKamp family: Patience… Justice is a slow, Fortune is a wheel.

3. Justice is also living up to my moniker of being “Blind and Dysfunctional”. Is it asking too much for the police not to go all to shit after a mere 2 weeks?

4. Ok, so Pistorius is out on bail, but he’s hardly living the life of Reilly. He’s stripped of all the freedoms he was accustomed to as a celebrity athlete. It may not be “just” according to some, but it is what the courts decided.

4. Whatever happened is a tragedy. It is unlikely that anyone will be satisfied with the legal outcome.

5. Whatever the outcome, a restorative justice process might be in order for the families of both Pistorius and Steenkamp. Fortunately South Africa has a lot of experience in this arena. Here is an abstract on the restorative justice process in South Africa from the University of Pretoria, Pretoria is where the bail hearing took place.

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CEIC Charbonneau Commission Day 3: ValentinaTenti Short Session

Day 2 of Valentina Tenti’s testimony was a short one. The commission recessed before noon, and Mike Amato, the detective from York Regional Police won’t take the stand until tomorrow.

Some highlights:

– Tenti could not cite an ethnic connection to Mafia corruption.

– She could not cite a correlation between gender and the mafia (though in some instances wives would front legitimate businesses for Mafia husbands)

– Tenti stated that in Sicily the Mafia is starting to branch out from public works and into the health care system and solid waste management.

– Tenti said that entrepreneurs that tried to co-exist along side the Mafia, apart from collusion would eventually have their businesses burned to the ground.

– Corruption is going to exist wherever there is a lack of checks and balances. It’s not the Mafia that’s the problem, it’s the system that is the problem.

– Tenti: “The conclusions of the Commission should not be based on opinions, but upon accurate information.”

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The Commission uploaded a new document today. Quebec Construction Industry Annual Statistics 2011 is now available on their website.

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Charbonneau Commission ( CEIC) Day 2: Valentina Tenti

The first English witness takes the stand today in Quebec’s construction inquiry (well, Italian with an awesome accent).

Valentina Tenti is a criminologist from the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan and expert on mafia infiltration into the construction industry in Italy (her credentials here )  Again, more “painting the picture” today, no pointing fingers… yet.

Tenti is no stranger to Montreal / Quebec. She’s been a post-doctoral fellow / research assistant / visiting researcher at the Universite de Montreal since 2008. In February 2012 she presented to the Universite de Montreal’s International Centre for Comparative Criminology on the topic, Ethnic patterns and co-offending neworks in Italy’s illegal drug trade. In May she presented to Canada’s National Security Conference on the topic of corruption in the construction industry. 

You can actually see her entire one-hour lecture on Italy’s illegal drug trade here on YouTube here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNNUqqNJK4I

Tenti really started coming into her own after about an hour of testimony. Much more relaxed and confident. She spoke of how the Mafia / Cosa Nostra had a sense of entitlement, describing a “swearing in” ceremony (being “made” ) where blood was spilt over a religious object (just a tad of a flair for the dramatic). Mafia consider themselves honorable, loyal, obedient. Which tells you pretty much what they think of the rest of us. With an attitude like that is it any wonder they feel justified in exploiting the system? 

The mafia have honor, and we get hosed.

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Day 1: Charbonneau Commission ( CEIC ) Reconvenes

Not much today in the way of action. Chairman France Charbonneau set the table by stating the inquiry (#ceic) would look into connections to organized crime and biker gangs, but so far very little on specifics in the nature of “who did what”.  A lot of detailed information on the history of the construction industry by Louis Delagrave; a $5 billion industry, one in every $5 dollars in Quebec goes towards construction. That’s a lot of pie; if checks and balances aren’t in place that’s a lot of opportunity. We will see in the days ahead of us where this leads.

As a side note, I am amazed at the amount of transparency and access to information in this inquiry. I am sitting here in North Carolina, and I can watch live televised feeds of the sessions. The streaming is fantastic. The Quebec government is making every document produced by witnesses available on line with same-day uploads (see here). 

The last public inquiry in Quebec that I can recall of this magnitude was the Poitras Commission’s Public Inquiry into the Surete du Quebec in 1996 (The Matticks Affair). I wasn’t around for that, but it was nothing like this, you basically had to rely on media, or  wait for the published report to get any information. As an average citizen, I say, Well Done! We are tax payers, we should not be at anyone’s mercy when it comes to accessing information about the things that we pay for.

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Charbonneau Commission: Accept the price, take the blue pill, don’t complain.

The Charbonneau Commission, Quebec’s public inquiry into how construction contracts where awarded for public projects, is to resume tomorrow morning. The Montreal Gazette has two good articles on the story so far in this weekend’s paper. The first article asks how far will the Commission probe into the connection between big government contract money, organized crime, and the political process in Quebec.  The second article is an examination of how contracts were awarded in Montreal. The Gazette suggests a pattern in the process, which suggests a possible gaming of the contract system. Notably the top two constructions firms in Quebec –  Simard-Beaudry Construction and  Construction Frank Catania et Associés Inc.(both with links to organized crime) – most often were awarded contracts and managed to split the award pot almost 50/50 (approx. $60M each). Also, neither company bid on a specific contract when the other had decided to bid on it (one would not participate in the process if the other decided to engage). Finally, the Gazette also points out that some construction companies never won contracts.

I always find these stories of bid rigging kind of difficult to follow, so let me just lay out for you what is being suggested: Simard-Beaudry  and Frank Catania, Inc. would meet prior to bidding on contracts and mutually agree who would bid on what this round, and who would sit out. The company bidding would secretly meet with a contract rep with the government and agree on a price (the bid would be roughly in line with the cost estimate provided by the government). The company would pay the government contract rep some incentive secretly for his services. Other companies would be instructed by the lead company not to bid, or to bid with a figure significantly higher than the estimate price, in exchange the lead company would award sub-contracts to the lesser companies for sitting out or providing bogus bids.

In this scenario, everybody wins. The lead company gets greased by the premium above what the project truly would have cost, the government reps get greased with some sort of pay-off from the lead construction company, the lesser companies get greased with sub-contracts, and the other lead company sitting out this round gets greased in the knowledge that they will then take the lead on the next big government construction contract.  Oh, and one last piece of the puzzle; part of that lead company premium? That’s used to fund political campaigns; an equal portion to all parties, a manner of hedging your bets so that everyone is complicit and the status quo continues.  Everybody wins except the taxpayer; they wind up paying for a highway overpass that could have been completed at 1/3 of the price had the fundamental process of Western competitive economics been allowed to take place, and the contract awarded to the true low bidder.

And you wondered how Pauline Marois could afford that mansion on Ile Bizzard?

How do I know this is what has likely been taken place in Quebec construction for the last 100 years? My father worked in construction in Quebec all his life. That’s how.

I have often thought that if you wanted to get to the real bottom of Theresa’s death, you might need to take a long, broad look at the relationship in Quebec between politics and corruption and money. Some crimes aren’t cause-and-effect. Some crimes are wheels-within-wheels, and result from bigger systemic problems.  An inept police force, a lackadaisical  educational structure; these are systems that feed off Quebec’s political engine. If a province and it’s people accepts that $347 million is a fare price for not rocking the boat (and this is exactly the number The Gazette is suggesting) , and they would rather have that money going to maintain the sub-standard status quo in Quebec, just so long as everything continues to basically function in Quebec, albiet at a terrible level of service, then it’s alright that we use that money so that a very few people enjoy a higher standard of living. If that is true, then don’t complain when your morning commute is 10 minutes longer each year due to a continuous ballet of pilons; don’t complain when your CEGEP system is at the point of anarchy for, apparently, no reason; don’t complain when your police forces behave like thugs, and seem to be at odds with one of the fundamental tenants of law enforcement: protecting citizens.

Accept the price, take the blue pill, and don’t complain.

The Charbonneau Commission reconvenes tomorrow morning. You can watch it here.

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Surete du Quebec: you get what you pay for?

The heads of police unions in Quebec are expressing concerns about the high cost of police consolidations, as more and more small  municipal forces get rolled up under the umbrella of the Surete du Quebec.

There should be concern. At issue is not only the problem of double taxation (cities like Montreal that have not been consolidated are paying twice, both for the SQ and the SPVM), but also the fact that once consolidated, municipalities cannot go back if citizens find they were provided better services prior to consolidation.

The period of SQ consolidation began en masse back in 70s under a then newly elected PQ government. I can well remember that one of the cornerstone problems with the investigation into my sister’s murder was at the cause of consolidation. Small police forces in Compton and Lennoxville were swept up by the SQ. Both towns had been the prociding police authority in the area where Theresa went missing (Lennoxville) and where her body was found (Compton). The newly appointed Surete du Quebec had only assumed control for a number of years at that time, and the force, in coming to grips with its new authority, bungled many procedures during the investigation.

This is typical when give authority over to a homogenized force, instead of the locals who know the area and can respond to the specialized needs of a community. I would take the SPVM over the SQ any day (and the Peel Regional Police over the RCMP for that matter). In light of recent missteps in Saint John, New Brunswick over the investigations of the Richard Oland and the Bacchus Motorcycle Club murder , some have called for the dissolution of the Saint John force; they would argue that the Mounties should assume control. The results would be disastrous for the Saint John community, and you need only look at THIS to see what you  would get when you ask umbrella governments to take control of local problems.

The province of Quebec should think twice before considering any more consolidation of its municipal forces. At the very least, in the wake of the upcoming elections, candidates should be required to express their position on consolidation, as requested by police union representatives. More here:

Police give wish list to Quebec election candidates

BY CATHERINE SOLYOM, THE GAZETTE AUGUST 18, 2012
MONTREAL – The heads of the Montreal Police Brotherhood and the Quebec federation of municipal police have given their wish list to candidates in the Sept. 4 election.

At the top, a promise not to eradicate any more of the province’s municipal police forces, in decline over the past 10 years as the Sûreté du Québec takes over, and a quest for more funding for Montreal, with the lion’s share of demonstrations and organized crime.

At a news conference Saturday morning, Police Brotherhood president Yves Francoeur said residents of larger cities like Montreal are paying twice for police services: once for their own municipal force, and through their income taxes to support the SQ in the rest of the province.

But Montreal itself, like other cities of more than 100,000 people, receives no funding for police services from the province, Francoeur said, despite making up one quarter of the population of Quebec — and accounting for one third of its crime.

“It’s in the big cities that crimes are generally committed, it’s in the big cities that there are demonstrations, it’s in the big cities that street gangs are a big problem,” Francoeur said, suggesting all municipalities should be subsidized to the same extent: to cover 47 per cent of the cost of policing.

In Montreal, the student demonstrations over the spring cost an estimated $15 million, Francoeur said.

By the beginning of July, some officers had racked up 700 hours of overtime.

Denis Côté, president of the Quebec federation of municipal police, decried the expansion of the SQ at the expense of a thousand municipal police officers, as more than 100 municipal forces have disappeared in the last decade.

The process by which the SQ can take over from a municipal police force, as they did in the last year in Rivière du Loup, Ste. Adèle and St. Georges de Beauce, is “undemocratic,” Côté said. While a mayor must consult the public, the city administration can decide to ignore the public’s views, and a decision cannot be reversed if the population is dissatisfied with the service it gets from the SQ.

Both Francoeur and Côté want electoral candidates to say what they will do to rectify the situation and to affirm they have no “hidden agenda” to put into place a single, national police force.

“The parties, both the Coalition Avenir Quebec and the Parti Québécois, are only talking about corruption, Yes, we have to talk about it… and find measures to eradicate it. But we’re saying position yourselves on other aspects (of public security),” Francoeur said.

“There are enough ex-police officers who are running for election to get a thought-out point of view on the issue from all the parties,” Côté said.

The CAQ’s star candidate, Jacques Duchesneau, was chief of the Montreal police from 1994 to 1998.

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The Serial Killer Ate My Homework

Watching some of these investigative reporters attempt to solve crimes gets as boring as watching American league baseball. No-one wants to single and bunt their way to victory, it’s all about the DH bases loaded home run, let’s hang it all to a serial killer and solve five crimes at once.

Israel Keyes

Take the case of Nancy West writing in a recent New Hampshire Sunday News article about murder suspect Israel Keyes. Keyes is being held in Alaska for the alleged kidnapping and murder of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig from an Anchorage coffee shop. Keyes is also apparently  a person of interest in the slaying of Essex, Vermont couple, Bill and Lorraine Currier, who were randomly abducted and murdered in June 2011 (apparently Keyes has told investigators the bodies could be found in a Vermont landfill).  The article (and apparently an impatient public, and capitulating law enforcement agencies) then attempts to tie Keyes to the disappearance and murder of Celina Cass, whose body was retrieved from a local river over a year ago, less than a quarter of a mile from her home. The evidence? Cass disappeared the month after the Currier murders.

Never mind that where the Curriers live in Essex, Vermont is a good five-hour drive on rough roads to where Cass disappeared in New Hampshire. Never mind that the psychological profile of someone who robs and kills a couple in their 50s is vastly different from someone who murders an 11-year-old. Investigators also note that Keyes owned a cabin near the Canadian border in Constable, New York. Let me put that in perspective for you; that’s three states, and over 300 miles. It’s like saying a person from Cornwall, Ontario is a suspect in a Sherbrooke, Quebec murder simply because there once was a penitentiary in Cornwall.

It gets better. The article also notes that the cases of Maura Murray and Louise Chaput remain unsolved in New Hampshire. 

Celia Cass

I’ll make this really easy for everyone. There is no evidence that Israel Keyes murdered Celina Cass (or Murray or Chaput). Cass was found a quarter of a mile from her house and was most likely murdered by a family member.

As I wrote about in my last post, through a long process of trial and error I have become a disciple of the least effort principle of Occam’s Razor. By all means keep your mind open for the unexpected, but also keep it simple, let the facts speak for themselves. The pressure and temptation to throw everything into some great unifying theory in criminal investigation is strong. I remember back in the Summer of 2005 I was working with NBC television to do a story for Dateline NBC on my sister’s murder. The producers were interested in exploring an angle between her case, and the then two new investigations into the twin disappearances of Briana Maitland and Maura Murray. The producers wanted myself and Geographic Profiler, Kim Rossmo to go on record and suggest that all the cases might be related, that their was a possibility that a serial killer had been operating across the American-Canadian border over a period of three decades. There was absolutely no evidence to support this theory. Rossmo explained that when establishing locus and territoriality in geographic profiling, the span of a serial predator quickly diminishes at a point of say, 30 miles. For someone to be operating in a playing field of several hundred miles is very rare, if not impossible. Some might cite Ted Bundy, but that was never really the case: Bundy travelled. In the case of the Green River Killings one of the major inhibitors to resolving that investigation was the temptation to tie too much together (to essentially make Gary Ridgeway and Robert Pickton one person). When we told the producers at NBC that there no evidence to support such a sensational theory they didn’t care. They wanted us to say it anyway.

Eventually we backed away from the Dateline story, and the producers were not interested in doing a show that stuck with the facts. I will admit that the temptation to give them what they wanted was there. Regardless if it was true, a Dateline story would have given my sister’s case International exposure. It could have led to information that could have solved the case. But the premise wasn’t true, it could have done more damage than good. And anyway, an American audience would do little to shed light on events of 3o-years-ago; what ultimately was needed was a program in the French language, produced for locals, by locals (which is ultimately was what we got).

In November 1999, 16-year-old Julie Surprenant disappeared from a Montreal bus-stop. Less than two years later, 14-year-old Julie Bureau went missing

Julie Surprenant’s father, Michel

from her home near Sherbrooke, Quebec. Then ten months later the body of 27-year-old Julie Boisvenu was found in a ditch near Sherbrooke. She had been raped, beaten and strangled to death. The press quickly tried to suggest that the cases were somehow linked. Their evidence? The girls were all named Julie. I’m not joking. I remember the La Presse headline, Les Trois Julies, and I myself got caught up in this hysteria. So what happened? Julie Surprenant was abducted and killed by serial offender Richard Bouillon who, on his prison death bed, confessed to a nurse that he killed her. Her body has never been found. Julie Bureau was a runaway who resurfaced three years later, apparently living under everyone’s noses in Sherbrooke.  Julie Boisvenu was murdered by Hugo Bernier, who is currently serving a life sentence. Bernier was a repeat offender, but not a hardened criminal like Bouillon.

This brings me full circle to the cases on Briana Maitland and Maura Murray. Both disappeared

Maura Murray

within a month of each other eight years ago. Both disappearances involved abandoned automobiles on lonely forested highways. Both were young, attractive women with their whole lives ahead of them. For years investigators, the media and the public have tried to link the cases. It took the first year and a half before investigators officially dismissed any connection, wasting valuable resources and time.

The cases are vastly different.

Murray appears to have been under numerous stressors that could have given her a reason to runaway. She may be living somewhere else, or she may have been in despair and perhaps died in the woods. Maitland’s disappearance seems to be linked to foul play. Friends and associates to this day are not talking. She may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Where Maitland’s investigation appears to have stalled, the Murray case has received fresh interest with the creation of a blog by investigative journalist James Renner  ( apparently to the dismay of the family unfortunately). Nevertheless, Renner appears clear-headed and dedicated to sticking to the facts of the case. I hope both cases soon find their resolutions.

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