PACIFIC ASSOCIATION OF ARTIST-RUN CENTRES August 13, 2020 LETTER TO MAYOR AND COUNCIL Re: Police abolition from the perspective of cultural workers To: the City of Vancouver Mayor and Councillors: Following a wave of public…
PACIFIC ASSOCIATION OF ARTIST-RUN CENTRES
August 13, 2020
LETTER TO MAYOR AND COUNCIL
Re: Police abolition from the perspective of cultural workers
To: the City of Vancouver Mayor and Councillors:
Following a wave of public protest in response to the untimely deaths of Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto, Chantel Moore in New Brunswick, and Breonna Taylor (Louisville) and George Floyd (Minneapolis) at the hands of the police, the Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres’ (PAARC) community has been vocal and clear about calls for the City of Vancouver to defund the Vancouver Police Department’s astronomically inflated budget.
Year after year, the Vancouver Police Department’s budgetary appropriation balloons, not in response to a city getting SAFER, but to its increasing militarization brought on by the false rationale that social needs are police work. The 2020 Budget amounts to $315,278,281.00 or 21% of the total operational budget for the City of Vancouver. We call upon our elected officials to question the validity of such a civic expense. Several of PAARCs member organizations who operate in and around the Downtown Eastside witness the risks faced by people who are most in need of social care and material support, risks that are often exacerbated by police presence.
The Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres acknowledges the demands of organizations in the Downtown Eastside who have been organizing to protect communities at risk of police confrontations and the ongoing criminalization of poverty. According to their work and experiences of the City’s most vulnerable citizens, the VPD has consistently failed to protect and serve these communities, yet continues to receive exponential annual increases to their budget to enforce an unaccountable and inherently violent system rooted in upholding white supremacy and settler colonialism.
We are forwarding a non-comprehensive list of demands culled from Black Lives Matter Vancouver and the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre’s Red Women Rising Report that call upon the City to further support the calls to redistribute police budget in order to support policies and actions that will lead to building stronger and safer communities centering lives on the Downtown Eastside.
SUPPORTING BLACK LIVES MATTER DEMANDS
The City of Vancouver must commit to improving social conditions across the city with a commitment to the goal of prison and police abolition.
The City of Vancouver must condemn police forces whose actions silence and violently suppress BIPoC voices and the demands for systemic change.
The immediate address of past and current harm of Black, Indigenous, and other marginalized people stemming from the destruction of the Hogan’s Alley neighbourhood.
VPD must be excluded in all capacities from participation in the Pride Parade and be disconnected from Vancouver Pride Society.
VPD must demilitarise immediately and commit to disarming officers entirely.
VPD must revise their data collection so as to begin producing thorough, transparent, and accurate reports of all arrests and police interactions.
The B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police and the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General’s Police Services Division must strip the awards of valour given to Constables Ann Fontaine, Albert Lu and Greg Parkes for their involvement in the killing of Abdi Gani Mahamud Hirsi.
The Vancouver School Board must acknowledge its dismissal of anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism including hate speech and systemic practices, and commit to anti-racism policies in collaboration with BIPoC community organizations.
The City of Vancouver must enable the establishment of a Black-led non-profit community land trust on the former Hogan’s Alley block within the Northeast False Creek area.
Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres demands all charges brought against seven individuals during the protest held on the site formerly known as Hogan’s Alley (June 13-15, 2020) be dropped immediately.
SUPPORTING RED WOMEN RISING: IMMEDIATE SERVICES IN THE DTES
Full Indigenous Jurisdiction:
Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at all levels of government, the assertion of Aboriginal Title over lands, initiating jurisdiction over all areas of law-making, and active Indigenous women’s leadership with the restoration of collective Indigenous women’s rights and governance.
Ensure active Indigenous women’s leadership in the design, implementation, and review of programs and policies, developed in all levels of Canadian government, national aboriginal organizations, and nonprofit agencies, directed to increase the safety of Indigenous women.
The implementation of independent civilian oversight of officials responsible for the investigations and responding to violence against Indigenous women; ensure the administrative, disciplinary, or criminal measures, of accountability upon officers who are found to have failed to act, carry a bias, or provide inadequate investigations, acts of violence and reports of missing Indigenous women.
Reduction of issued bylaw infraction tickets in the DTES and develop guidelines for greater police discretion when responding to minor poverty-related offences; end the counter-charging and criminalization of Indigenous women in defense of themselves or their children; prohibit police use and carry of lethal weapons.
To commit to alternative non-incarceration measures including community-based rehabilitation, diversion, community courts, and restorative justice methods, especially for minor offenses.
Repeal laws that criminalize or increase harm for Indigenous women in the sex trade.
End criminalization of use and possession of small amounts of illicit substances.
Eliminate criminal charges and bylaw infractions for sleeping or tenting in public spaces and end the displacement of tent cities.
Redefine social housing and affordable housing to decisively consider mean rates that are affordable to people on social assistance.
Amend the provincial Residential Tenancy Act and Human Rights Code to strengthen tenants rights and make discrimination on the basis of social conditions such as health status and drug use illegal.
Develop multipurpose Indigenous Women’s Centres in the DTES run by and for Indigenous women and supply long-term funding, wrap-around supports and empowerment-based programming.
Fund Indigenous-centered and community-based victim service programs rather than police-based.
Fund more 24/7 low-barrier emergency shelters, transition homes, and drop-ins for women with long-term funding and full wrap-around supports.
An Indigenous Health and Wellness Centre in the DTES and Indigenous-run health programs supporting the use of Indigenous methods.
Fund more mobile healthcare vans, community clinics, street nurses, and healthcare providers in the DTES.
Expand supports for publicly intoxicated people by pursuing non-policing options
Indigenous-run treatment centres, indoor overdose prevention sites and consumption sites for Indigenous women only; access to safe drug supply; full spectrum substitution treatment options.
Fund an Indigenous legal clinic in the DTES with the capacity to support Indigenous women in all civil and criminal legal matters.
158 Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Recommendations 24. Fund a Bear Clan Patrol in the DTES that is led by Indigenous residents and based on Indigenous reciprocal responsibilities of safety, security, and kinship.
Create low-barrier, peer-based jobs in the DTES with priority hiring and support for Indigenous women of the community; pay living wages, provide full benefits, and have the right to unionization.
Black Lives Matter is a decentralized international social movement which actively supports organizing work in the dismantling of systemic racialized violence. The movement was founded July 13, 2013 in response to racialized systems of violence and police-killings of Black people. The list of demands provided in this letter are cited from the work of the Vancouver chapter of the movement.
Published by The Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre (DEWC) in 2019, Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is a report based on the lived experience, leadership, and expertise of Indigenous survivors. This comprehensive report is the culmination of a participatory process with 113 Indigenous women and 15 non-Indigenous women regarding the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Zandi Dandizette, President, PAARC, email@example.com