For Immediate Release
VANCOUVER / xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Skxwú7mesh & səlil̓wətaʔɬ territories (June 14 2018) –
This morning, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (“UBCIC”) and the BC Civil Liberties Association (“BCCLA”) filed a complaint with the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner calling for an immediate investigation of the significant racial disparity revealed in Vancouver Police Department’s practice of “street checks” or police stops, often referred to as carding.
Street checks are the practice of stopping a person outside of an investigation, questioning them and obtaining their identifying information, and often recording their personal information. The complaint is based on a release of data under a Freedom of Information request posted on the VPD’s website, and first reported by the Globe and Mail, that reveals that Indigenous and Black people are significantly over-represented in the numbers of street checks conducted by the VPD over the past decade.
The VPD data on the number of street checks conducted between 2008 and 2017. Over that period, the VPD conducted 97,281 street checks. Of that total, approximately 15% of all street checks (14,536) were of Indigenous people, despite this population making up approximately 2% of the population of Vancouver over that time period. In 2017, Indigenous people accounted for over 16% of all street checks, despite making up only 2% of the population of Vancouver. Between 2008 and 2017, approximately 4% (4,365) of all street checks were of Black people, despite this population making up less than 1% of the population of Vancouver over that time period. In 2017, Black people accounted for 5% of all checks (315), despite making up only 1% of the population of Vancouver.
In his 2015-16 Annual Report, the Police Complaint Commissioner recommended that the Vancouver Police Board reconsider any policies or procedures relating to the practice of street checks “in light of an increasing trend in complaint allegations involving the police practice of conducting street checks.” While a draft policy has been in development, the VPD has not adopted a final street checks policy, according to the BCCLA.
The UBCIC and BCCLA complaint asks the Police Complaints Commissioner to investigate and to take any and all actions necessary to address this matter, including engaging in research on the practice of street checks in all municipal police forces under the Commissioner’s oversight jurisdiction.
Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, stated “The statistics on racial disparity in street carding demonstrate the lived reality of institutional racism that our people face despite the public rhetoric and celebrations around reconciliation. We can’t be any clearer – this must be investigated, the VPD must publicly apologize and make an immediate commitment to change their terribly discriminatory practices.”
Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BCCLA, stated: “Based on the VPD’s own data, it is indisputable that Indigenous and Black people are shockingly over-represented in police stops in Vancouver. Indigenous people are stopped at a rate more than six times their share of the population, and Black people four times more. It is difficult to imagine any conclusion other than that street checks are being conducted in a discriminatory manner. We are asking for an immediate, independent investigation to determine what is going on and how this can be fixed.”
Elaine Durocher, Métis grandmother and board member of Downtown Eastside Women’s Center: “We experience the racist practice of VPD street checks every day in the Downtown Eastside. As Indigenous people and and people of colour living in poverty, we are routinely stopped by the police on every block – from our home, to the food lineup, to our volunteer work – for no reason other than to question and intimidate us. For Indigenous women surviving colonial gendered violence, which is the subject of the national inquiry currently under way, street checks are yet one more way that we are over-policed and under-protected on our own lands.”
Black Lives Matter Vancouver stated: “Over the past few years that Black Lives Matter has existed in Vancouver (unceded Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh lands), we’ve come to notice there is a stringent denial of the existence of racism in Canada. Many people ask us ‘why is there a need for a Black Lives Matter chapter in Vancouver?’ because they are convinced that racialized issues like police violence, carding, racial profiling, #drivingwhileblack and so on, are issues unique to the United States and Eastern Canada. The recent report alongside the numerous other reported instances of anti-Blackness in Vancouver, such as the physical assault of Solomon Akintoye, the racial profiling and tasering of Jamiel Moore-Williams and the violent handling of a young black girl in Surrey by the RCMP, further proves the necessity of fighting against racism in this city and this country.“
June Francis, co-chair of the Hogan’s Alley Society, said: “Black and Indigenous people have long complained of systemic racism by the Vancouver police. The figures released on Vancouver police’s targeting of Indigenous and Black people for arbitrary “street checks” and police stops are alarming and should start to shed light on the daily reality of targeted populations who are far too frequently exposed to physical harm, humiliation and serious violations of their rights.”
The above statements represent the views of each individual group, and have not been formally adopted by the other groups.