The BCCLA has written the Vancouver Police Department reminding it that young people are not criminals. Immediately after the Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver, the mayor and police chief were reported as putting blame where it belonged, saying: “We had a small number of hooligans, basically, on the streets of Vancouver causing problems.” More recently, in the wake of reports criticizing the deployment of adequate resources to that event, Vancouver’s Police Chief has suggested a ban on all major events that attract young people ought to be considered. Local media reported the following comments by Chief Jim Chu:
‘When you attract a certain demographic, that’s when the radar has to go on and we have to say, ‘Look, given the number of people that were going to be attracted to this particular event, we’re going to have to think twice about whether we want to have it.’
This concept was repeated in a report on the riot released yesterday by the VPD:
[The VPD recommends the city] not have large scale public events with ‘festival seating/standing’ that concentrate large crowds of young persons – particularly the young ‘hooligan’ demographic – who have the propensity for drinking in a small area.
“Let’s keep the focus where it belongs. It’s not acceptable to blame all young people for the actions of a lawless few,” says Robert Holmes, Q.C., President of the BCCLA. “Many people were downtown for Game 7. Many were young. A year earlier, many people gathered peacefully downtown for Canada’s gold medal win in 2010. Many young people gather without rioting every weekend on Granville Street. For that matter, we rightly trust law enforcement to many young officers who police events wearing VPD or RCMP uniforms. Almost one in five police officers are under 30 years old. The issue about policing major events has always been ensuring that sufficient numbers of police officers are present so that order may be maintained.”
British Columbia’s human rights code prohibits discrimination based on age. That applies to providing any service, including policing services and access to public celebrations. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects against discrimination based on age. The Charter also protects mobility rights to move about freely and rights of peaceful assembly.
“We will strongly object to the city or police trying to eliminate public gatherings by youth or young people in Vancouver,” said Holmes. “Public safety and security concerns ought to be addressed through common sense and deployment of properly trained police officers in
appropriate numbers. Basing the refusal of an event license on the age of the anticipated
audience is unacceptable.”
Robert Holmes, Q.C., President, (604) 838-6856
David Eby, Executive Director, (604) 630-9752