Arms and The Man: 2
“Okay, Let Them Do Their Thing. But Not On My Lawn”
— Vancouver cop, Summer 1968
IT’S A FEW MINUTES after a Friday midnight in Vancouver. And warm. The promise of summer is in the air. Beer, bare thighs, open shirts, aimless hippies. The promise of trouble for the city’s 750-man police force. Bill Moldowan, 26, rookie cop — a wiry six-foot-some, boyish face, grade-12 education — is just beginning his eight-hour shift. He’s drawn No. 3 squad car, a two-door tired-out Ford painted black and white and smelling faintly of sweat. Eighty thousand is coming up on the clock for the second or maybe third time. Moldowan glances down his duty sheet, memorizes today’s batch of stolen vehicles, checks the gas gauge, tests the spotlights, the radio, the siren. Then he jerks the car into gear and swings it out of the headquarters compound as if it were a hot rod.
We cruise swiftly through the crumbling Skid Road area. Patches of dirty-yellow light reveal clusters of used-up people shuffling in and out of doorways. We’re heading away from age and decay toward the neon-thin glamour of Granville Street, toward the white apartment towers of the West End, toward youth. A block ahead a car screeches around a corner and a motorcycle cop roars out of a laneway after it. “It’s going to be a wild night,” says Moldowan. “I can feel it in my bones.”
It has taken me eight hours to work my way down through the hierarchy of the Vancouver force to Moldowan. I talked to the deputy chief, to inspectors, to desk sergeants, patrol sergeants and corporals. But Moldowan is where it all starts. He’s the beat cop, the uniform on the street, the officer who checks out your daughter in the coffee houses or comes to your door at 3 a.m. when you think there’s a prowler in the backyard. He’s the policeman we used to wave to or ask directions from, the symbol of an authority many of us now treat with contempt.
And Moldowan knows what we think of him. He was raised on the wrong side of the tracks in Welland, Ontario, and as a teenager had his fair share of brushes with authority He worked as a servicestation attendant and as a foreman in a rubber company before moving west with a couple of friends. He could easily have become a hippie himself. Instead, he became a cop. Still a bachelor, he’s been on the force for exactly one year. Next week he’ll write examinations that will end his probationary period and make him a constable third-class. “1 guess I always wanted to be a policeman,” says Moldowan.
We drive slowly past a group of hippies on the Court House lawn. They jeer and Moldowan snorts in disgust. "What do I think of them?
Well, if they want to walk around with long hair and dirty clothes, it's all right with me. As long as they don’t break the law.
“But when you walk in on a 35-year-old so-called hippie and he’s in bed with a 14-year-old girl, giving her just enough bread to stay alive on, then you don't think too much of hippies. A lot of these flower-power kids are being taken by con artists — dope peddlers, crooks and pimps — and they’re too dumb to realize it.”
The taverns have closed and the crowds on Granville are thinning out. Moldowan pulls down a residential side street. A drunk woman, 65 or so, has collapsed face down on the sidewalk outside an apartment block. She’s a pathetic bundle of flesh wrapped in a tatty black-fur coat, a wounded walrus, whimpering and trying to crawl into the safety of the lighted lobby. Moldowan lifts her gently to her feet and half carries her into the building. Five minutes later he returns. “I got her into her apartment,” he says, “and then she turned on me, cursed me and ordered me out of the place.”
Back on Granville, another drunk has stalled his car and burned out his clutch at a main intersection, piling up southbound traffic for several blocks. Moldowan radios for a tow and, grumbling, climbs out to do a bit of point duty. Just then a young Indian girl comes up to tell him four boys are starting to fight on a parking lot. Moldowan climbs back in and races the car backward down the street. Two of the boys break off and run when they see him. Later, one of them is picked up by another cop and charged with vagrancy.
We take a spin around the block and return to the intersection. Same scene, different characters. A cute blonde is sitting on the sidewalk with one sheer-nylon leg twisted awkwardly beneath her. A man in a tweed jacket and a brunette are bending over her. Moldowan pulls up and asks if they want an ambulance. The man shakes his head. His wife, he says, has a plastic hip. She’s fallen on it. A car is coming to take her to hospital.
Moldowan parks and waits. “Both of them arc hustlers,” he says. “The blonde has a set of curves that’s famous all over the city. The guy may really be her husband but don’t count on it.” A convertible draws up and the blonde is lifted in. “Powder blue,” murmurs Moldowan. “That’s their favorite color this year.”
The night wears on. Police duty, I’m coming to realize, is incredibly monotonous. Long periods of tedium relieved by spasms of activity, usually squalid activity. Before dropping me at my hotel, Moldowan parks in a rear lane and trains / continued on page 61
continued on page 61
VANCOUVER COP continued from page 23
30 people lived in three tiny rooms “crawling with filth”
the spotlight down a colonnade of overflowing garbage pails toward a peeling back door. "We hit that place a couple of weeks ago. We kept stopping groups of hippies, four or five bunches of them, and they all gave this address. So we decided to investigate.
"There are only three tiny basement rooms in there, the largest 10 feet by 15, and a dirty closet for a kitchen. There must have been 30 people crammed in there. No furniture. Just crude watercolors on the wall, mattresses, sleeping bags and people. Oh, God, the stench that came out of that place. It was crawling with filth, crawling. We got the windows open and started checking.
"We found every kind of kid you could name. Kids from West Vancouver whose dads are plenty rich, to deadbeats, runaways and members of motorcycle gangs. In the bedroom was an 18-year-old Montreal girl, a really lovely doll with a wonderful personality. She was broke and could hardly speak English. 1 asked the guy lying with her why he hadn't registered her for welfare. He said. ‘What, me ruin a good thing?' ”
“I was no angel as a kid,” says Moldowan. “Far from it. And I bloody well hope we never lose the right to dress as we please. But I kept thinking of my 16-year-old sister and how I'd feel if she got conned into living in a mess like that.”
Earlier in the evening I had spent a couple of hours with Bob Schaaf and Joe Raine, veteran policemen assigned to the city's Special Squad. They prowl around in an unmarked car with a 12-gauge shotgun clipped under the front seat and tear-gas equipment in the trunk. I ask about marijuana, one of the squad's enforcement areas. “The kids out here are getting smart,” says Raine. “They're starting to handle pot as they would heroin. They stash it away in various places and only pick it up when they're about to turn on. Or else they give it to the girls to carry. If they do carry it themselves, they put it in the crotch of their underpants. That means we have to take them down to headquarters to search them. A hell of a waste of time.”
What if there's a hippie riot in Vancouver this summer, as many
people predict? Will the cops use tear gas? “No. we'll probably use the dog squad or the horses.” says Raine. "If the worst happens we can always use the water hoses. Those kids need a good wash anyway.” Won't action like that invite charges of police brutality? Schaaf sighs. “The trouble with everything about our job today is that
we're damned if we do and damned if we don't.”
Deputy Chief John Fisk, whose 33 years on the force have molded his brisk parade-ground bearing, says he has watched the policeman evolve from "a glorified watchman, a doorrattler. into a highly trained investigator.” He has also watched a growing
disrespect for law and order. There are, he concedes, some out-of-date and unpopular laws that should be examined. He would like to see a government agency conduct a onceand-for-all experiment to discover the psychological and physiological effects of marijuana.
"Marijuana and runaway juvenile girls are our major concern with the hippies,” says Fisk. “Our Youth Preventive Squad ropes in a couple of runaways every day. As for pot, three
years ago we had one or two arrests for possession. Last year we had about 60 charges. This year it could be 500 or 600.”
Control of hippies in Vancouver is complicated by the fact that the kids haven’t a real nucleus. They tend to float all over the city, from Kitsilano Beach through the West End to Stanley Park. Toronto has no such problem. There the hippies are all conveniently concentrated in the block and a half of discotheques, coffee houses, boutiques and all-night cafés known as Yorkville Village.
Metro Toronto's police force of 3,048 maintains a permanent squad of six uniformed men and two plainclothes men patrolling Yorkville. On Friday and Saturday nights the squad expands to 12. There are also elements of the 25man Metro drug squad, part city and part RCMP, haunting the area. Last year the drug squad made 450 arrests. By May of this year the squad had busted another 270 for possession.
Presiding over the Yorkville squad is Inspector Sam Bogle, an experienced cop with a scen-it-all attitude. What bothers Bogle are not the hippies but the do-gooders, the spectators and the hardened criminals who operate on the fringes of the Village.
“The hippies are just bums,” he says. “We've always had bums. Only these bums want people to give them everything they ask for. At least the old hoboes had a measure of independence. Hippies want a license to do as they please but they don't want to take any responsibility.”
I ask Bogle a question that has long bothered me.
Why, in view of the antipathy building up between the police and an increasingly sophisticated public, are there no university graduates on the entire Toronto force? He practically breaks up. “You don't think for a minute, do you, that if I had a university degree I’d be sitting behind this desk as a policeman? We’ve had a few university graduates but they don’t stay with us.
They’re too sensitive for the work we have to do.’’
That evening, a Saturday, I go out with two members of the Yorkville squad. The leader is Phil Fanning, just turned 29. Toronto-born and articulate. He has a handsome rugged face, is married, with an eight-yearold boy and a four-year-old girl, and can bring a man down at 50 feet with his .38 Colt revolver. Almost the TV image of a good cop. He's worked in Yorkville on and off for three years and many residents know him by his first name. His partner tonight is a 30-year-old rookie, Hugh Blake, re-
cruited in England last year. Their shift runs from eight until three in the morning, when even Yorkville tires.
First stop is a community centre for hippies in the basement of St. Paul’s United Church on Avenue Road. By 9.30 p.m. it’s packed with more than 300 kids, all supposedly over 16 and under 21 and all apparently smoking. A few are dancing or playing pool, table tennis and chess. Most are just sitting around. There’s a coffee bar, a television set, a woodworking shop with nobody in it and a
table littered with pamphlets warning about VD. The minister, the Reverend James Smith, a dedicated man in casual clothes, stands at the entrance taking in dimes, checking ages, wishing the cops would go away because of the tension they create.
Three adults, including a middleaged woman worried white and near tears, fight their way down the steps. They are looking for the woman's daughter. Smith says they're welcome to go in. After 10 minutes they come out shaking their heads. The girl has
been away a week. Smith says he'll keep an eye out. One of the social workers. John Reid, wearing a track suit and an elaborate crucifix where there should be a whistle, wants to talk to Fanning in private. Two girls have been gang raped. Can't the cops do something?
“I let him have it right on the line.” says Fanning later. “We can't do anything unless the girls complain right away. Yet these social workers simply comfort the girls or send them to a psychiatrist. They never send them to
the police. They are creating a milieu where rapes and dope-peddling can continue unchecked.”
We move down the street to an allnight restaurant. It’s greasy, glossy and malodorous. Cheap perfume mixed with French fries, a good mask for the incenselike smell of marijuana.
"A veritable den of thieves.” observes Fanning. “See that dark-haired guy by the window? He's out on bail for armed robbery. The man in the checked shirt behind you has a long list of break-and-enters to his credit. I
can walk in here any time of the day or night and spot four or five crooks, pimps, sex offenders and drug peddlers. The public has no idea of the number of criminals operating on the edge of the hippie crowd. All a drug peddler has to do is grow a beard and he’s in.”
Fanning and Blake invite two youths sitting together, one a Negro, to come downstairs for a chat. Both are searched quickly in the passage outside the washrooms. Both admit to records but are clean tonight. Outside the restaurant an elfin girl grins at Fanning and offers him a cigarette. "They’re only tobacco,” she says. Fanning grins back. “Just turned 16,” he explains. “Bad parental scene there.-She left home and lives with her 30-yearold brother in a hippie pad. He’s got a record as long as your arm. We try to watch out for her.”
We cut down a side street where the local chapter of a national motorcycle gang rents a house. Several members of the gang, squat and ugly in blue denim, are standing around in the front yard caressing four hogs and chatting to three girls parked in a white latemodel Buick. Attractive girls from well-to-do homes, out for kicks. Fanning and Blake check their identification and suggest they move off. “Those motorcycle bastards are vicious hoods,” says Fanning with venom. “Some have been up for assault. We're pretty sure they arc running a protection racket against the hippies, extorting money and girls. We’ll get them one day soon and send them down for two years.”
Walking back toward Yorkville, Fanning explains how he handles smart-aleck kids who think they know the law. “They've been told a lot of crap. If I have reasonable and probable grounds,
I can stop anybody and search him. If he asks whether he’s under arrest, I'll put him under arrest.
I may have to dig a bit but there’s no way that guy can walk away.”
Crossing a darkened parking lot, Fanning and Blake hear a noise and flush out a lean, nervous-looking 18vear-old from some bushes. The kid is meekly co-operative and a compulsive talker, repeating his name and his address in suburban Scarborough over and over again, pointing out his parked mini-car, telling how he's had three or four beers in the last hour and is a little rocky. I begin to feel sorry for him. Then the kid asks if he's under arrest.
“Why, yes you are." says Fanning softly. "Been in trouble before, have you?”
“A lot are homely but as hippies they get a chance to mix”
The kid nods vigorously. He is currently out on bail for two drug charges and also has a weapons charge against him. Fanning and Blake search his car exhaustively and make him turn out his pockets and take off his boots. Nothing. Fanning radios for a patrol car and the kid is taken down to No. 52 station, booked as a minor consuming alcohol. After a couple of hours, they let him go. He'll get a summons in the mail Monday to add to his other problems. "He can't stay out of trouble, that one," muses Fanning. "In a couple of years he'll be rotting in jail for a long, long time.”
Can harassed police forces, confronted with a swelling army of juvenile and not-so-juvenile delinquents, do anything more constructive than simply harassing the hippies back? On the west coast they are at least trying new approaches. Four years ago the Vancouver force set up a Youth Preventive Squad under Sergeant Joe Hornell. a 40-year-old family man with a tender manner and a tough, intelligent mind. He's an ex-Mountie and an ideal father figure. Hornell's picked squad, most of them also married men with children, has three duties: routine enforcement, acting as an intelligence unit to collect information about juvenile crimes, and performing an educational role.
Hornell and his men spend a high proportion of their time lecturing about hippies in high schools, youth clubs and service organizations. They also do a fair amount of liaison work with the welfare agencies concerned with juveniles. The squad operates out of an office in the suburban Oakridge station, a quiet backwater that
parents of delinquents can enter and leave without too much fuss and embarrassment. The squad’s preventive duties have paid off. About 75 percent of the kids they pick up never become involved with the police again.
But Hornell has some harsh views about the other 25 percent, the hard-
core hippie element. "They’re like displaced persons," he says. “They just can't cut the mustard in school and the pressure is on the home, so they drop out. A lot of the hippies, especially the girls, are pretty homely looking kids—plain Janes. As hippies, they get a chance to mix.
"What bugs me is their complaints about the police. They say they want to do their thing. Okay. fine. But why don't they go up in a mountain and do it? They are harassing people all
the time. They sprawl all over public lawns, wrecking the grass and making suggestive remarks to old ladies. No wonder ordinary people, square Johns, get uptight. And then the hippies turn around and claim we're harassing them.”
Late one evening Hornell takes me out to show me what he’s up against. We rendezvous with another youthsquad officer behind four timberframe houses in the Kitsilano Beach area. All four are hippie pads but the middle two are derelict and without electricity. Using his flashlight, Hornell guides us into the basement of one of the houses. It’s knee-deep in garbage. There are a couple of gnawed mattresses and the rustle of rats. “We took 20 kids out of here last week,” says Hornell. “It was just like this then.”
Upstairs, the ground floor is also empty except for some piles of filthy rags. On the first floor we knock on a door dripping with graffiti — love poems and crude dirty jokes, slogans of peace and hatred, daffodils and smears of excrement. Every hippy carries a Magic Marker in his bedroll. Inside the candle-lit room are two boys, one striking girl with dark tresses she could sit on, a guitar, and the inevitable mattress. They all claim to be just in from Winnipeg and have paid 50 cents a night, they can't remember who to, for the use of the pad. Yes, they are all over 18. No, they haven’t got any pot.
In the next room we find four prostrate forms, all snoring. I stick my head in the door. The stink hits me with a force that’s physical. I retch. Maybe I am too sensitive for this sort of work. There’s a noise in the loft above us. Hornell shines his light up through the trap door and shouts. Two incredibly young faces peer over the edge. Hornell orders them down. After a minute a boy, wearing only jeans, drops through the hatch. His girl, he explains, is naked. Yes, they are both over 18. No, they are fresh out of pot.
“They had a hippie ‘marriage’ in this place a few days ago,” the other officer tells Hornell. “We got the story from the bride, a 15-year-old, the next morning. The ‘marriage’ was consumated on a mattress downstairs with about a dozen other naked hippies kneeling around urging them on. Then for their honeymoon they went up into that loft to smoke pot and make love. The girl told us it was the most lovely thing that ever happened to her. She was crying.”
Driving back, Hornell detours into the suburbs to show me his own home. It’s a neat, blue-trimmed bungalow with a spotless lawn, a Borgward parked in the driveway and a toolshed in the backyard where Hornell plays around with things mechanical. Inside the house, his wife, who is a former teacher, and their four children are sleeping soundly.
“I’m damned if I'll ever let those hippies muck up my lawn,” Hornell mutters.
I look at the house Hornell has worked 20 years to own. I remember the hovel, the stench, the indifference we just left. And I begin to understand why policemen think the way they do. ★