vansocialist

The People v.s. The City of Vancouver

In events on April 17, 2009 at 3:36 pm

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“The People VS The City of Vancouver” – one community’s fight for justice

Sunday, April 19, 1 – 3 pm
(Trial starts at 2pm)
@ Pigeon Park
(Hastings and Carrall)

Accused: The City of Vancouver
Charge: Social Cleansing
Offense Date: July 2003 – Present
Deciding Jury: The DTES Power of Women group.

This is the people’s court of justice! The day will include a rally with
community street theatre. This event is organized and supported by a
collaboration of DTES community residents and community organizers,
including: VANDU (Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users), Power of Women,
The Anti-Poverty Committee, the Olympic Resistance Network, SFPIRG, 2010
Watch & The Workless Party.

*Food and drinks will be served at 1pm, the trial starts at 2pm sharp!
**Community folks are encouraged to come out and testify!

Synopsis:

Since the Olympic Bid of 2003 the City of Vancouver has waged a violent war on the community of the DTES. While it boasts ‘revitalization’ and it’s ‘Civil City’ campaigns as progressive, such activities in fact terrorize and displace those most marginalized in our city. Community members have been literally forced onto the streets as homelessness has more than tripled in the neighbourhood. Once evicted from their homes residents are further brutalized with ticketing for sitting or lying on the street & asking for spare change among other by-law ‘offenses’. The City of Vancouver has literally criminalized the poverty it has created. The Community is fighting back!

Evidence:

*Past Olympic Host Cities:

“The desire to show off a city & make it an attractive tourist destination is often accompanied by a process of sanitation- clean-ups of public areas facilitated by criminalization of homelessness & increases in police powers… to make it more attractive for the local, national and international elites.”

*The Safe Streets Act:

BC passed the Safe Streets Act in 2004 to prohibit panhandling “in an aggressive manner,” such as obstructing the path of a person, using abusive language, or following behind, alongside or ahead of a person being solicited for spare change. The act included persons in motor vehicles being solicited, such as by ‘squeegee cleaners’ who wait at traffic lights to ‘clean’ driver’s windows. Police are authorized to arrest persons violating the act without warrant.

Although a provincial act, the legislation is directed primarily at downtown areas of cities, and in particular Vancouver. A coalition of business groups (downtown hotels, banks and corporations), including the Vancouver Downtown Business Improvement Association and the Vancouver Board of Trade, were the main promoters of the Safe Street Act (SSA). The act has been severely criticized by civil liberties and anti-poverty groups.

*Project Civil City:

In 2006, Vancouver City Hall launched ‘Project Civil City’, a broad-ranging initiative focusing on homelessness, panhandling, policing and public disorder. According to former Mayor Sam Sullivan, it seeks to reduce by 50 % homelessness, aggressive panhandling, open drug use, and excessive drinking & fighting in the downtown area (all by 2010). Along with a proposal to hire more by-law officers & prosecutors, there are also actions to increase CCTV video surveillance of streets and the city’s anti-graffiti campaign.

To accomplish these tasks, the city allocated some $1 million from the 2007 Olympic Legacy Fund budget to expand policing and by-law enforcement, and $300,000 to directly fund Project Civil City. The corporate media has assisted the government in this process by running sensationalist stories on street crime, aggressive panhandlers, and drunken partiers in the downtown area.

Although Sullivan claims Civil City has nothing to do with the Olympics, previous statements have contradicted this:
“There is no question that we must act swiftly & decisively to solve the public disorder problems that affect our city. I believe we have a tremendous opportunity to use the upcoming 2010 Olympic & Paralympic Games as a catalyst to do just that.”

*GVRD Homeless Count:

Greater Vancouver’s homeless crisis continues to grow at a “stunning” and “shocking” rate, with a 373-per-cent increase in street homelessness since 2002.

The number of homeless in Metro Vancouver is now approaching 3,000 — there were at least 2,660 homeless people in Metro Vancouver on the official day of the count on March 11 2008

The report’s key findings include:

– Street homelessness increased by 373 per cent since 2002.

– The number of people who were homeless for a year or more rose by 62 per cent from 2005. Almost 50 per cent of homeless people found during the count had been homeless for a year or more.

– Native people, despite representing just two per cent of the population, comprise 32 per cent of the homeless, up from 30 per cent in 2005. Close to 45 per cent of homeless women and 41 per cent of unaccompanied homeless youth were native.

– The vast majority (84 per cent) of homeless people had health problems such as addiction (61 per cent), mental illness (33 per cent) and physical disability (31 per cent).

– The so-called working poor are being forced into emergency shelters.

*Street Sweeps:

Aggressive street sweeps have been raging through the DTES from increased and aggressive ticketing for things like panhandling or jaywalking to “illegal” vending.

-VPD year-end performance report: officers issued 467 tickets for violations of the Safe Streets Act in 2008, compared to 202 tickets in 2007; 133 tickets for violations of the Trespass Act, up from 95 in 2007. Tickets for city-bylaw infractions, including tickets for vending, panhandling, and loitering, shot up to 439 tickets in 2008 compared to 247 tickets in 2007.

Results:

These brutal acts are clear evidence that the City of Vancouver has and will continue to commit the crime of Social Cleansing against the DTES Community. The City-sanctioned police harassment of poor people is something that has been increased steadily in conjunction with increased gentrification. As the colonial legal system promotes this injustice the community has no choice but take justice into it’s own hands and try the perpetrators for their REAL crimes!

We are hoping as many people as possible will come out to testify against the city, and/or endorse this attempt to smash the “broken windows” theory, and tell the City and its goons to back off.

Come out to support!

Contact: 2010.homes.now@gmail.com for more info!

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