Wednesday, May 14, 2014

McGeer's War on Crime

McGeer's war on crime also targeted Chief Constable John Cameron. Cameron was charged with Celona of “to effect a public mischief by perverting the course of justice.” Colonel W.W. Foster (remember him from the post office sit down strike?) and he led the investigation.

For the first time, the Vancouver Police Department used a wire tap. The officers were stationed at the Carter-Cotton building, listening in on Celona's telephone conversations. The detectives heard conversations between Celona and police officers and Colonel Foster stated the officers were advising Celona how to avoid conviction. Unfortunately, the sound quality was so poor the tapes weren't able to be used as evidence.
Prosecutors had other evidence against Cameron. He partied with Celona at Cameron's ranch, Celona's house and on the police boat on a cruise in Howe Sound. Officers took the stand and stated it was necessary to occasionally mix with criminals to gather information. There was no evidence that Cameron had gained monetarily through his connection with the Italian immigrant or any sort of agreement between the two so John Cameron was acquitted.

Unfortunately, Joe Celona wasn't so lucky. He was charged with running a disorderly house at the Maple Hotel on Hastings Street and procuring girls for prostitution. However, what really rankled the prosecutor, Dugald Donaghy, was that Chinese men frequented the hotel.

“There are no words in the English language to describe the abhorrence of [white girls] being procured exclusively for the yellow men from China,” Donaghy told the court. “That these girls should be submitted to crawling yellow beasts of the type frequenting such dives.”

Celona was sentenced to 22 years in prison but an appeal reduced the sentence to 11 years. In five years, with good behaviour, Joe Celona was paroled and out on the streets. However, his freedom didn't last long. There was a public outcry and a campaign led by Mayor Lyle Telford saw Celona re-arrested and sent back to the BC Penitentiary in New Westminster. 

Many people felt that Celona's political connections got him out early but there was nothing unusual about his case. Celona did have a nefarious reputation and that was probably one factor that helped send him back to prison. The other was the fact that the year was 1940 and he was Italian. Many felt he should be deported back to fascist Italy. 

What an interesting segment of Vancouver history. I am grateful to the Past Tense website for the above information. I will tell you more on Friday.

I hope you find the beauty around you.


  1. Were people prejudice against blacks as well as orientals or simply the orientals? There seems to be prejudice in some form in every country.

    1. People are still prejudiced against Asians and Africans and who knows who else. I don't worry about it - too big of problem for me to tackle. One thing though. I have never used the n word, or at least I don't think I have, and it was never a word I thought of. But now with the media and African Americans making such a big deal out of the word, it is in my mind a lot now. Not that I intend on calling anyone it.

  2. With Obama as President and his reeking havoc on our country there is a lot more racism fear then there ever was before he tried to destroy/fix our country. It scares me but I have no issue with Blacks or Asians I like them both and their is good and bad in all races. My feelings about Obama have nothing to do with his color it is his politics and his constant lying.

    1. I guessed something like this could happen when Obama was first running for president. If you don't agree with or vote for him, you are a racist and that is what is happening.