FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 10, 2020, (xwməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam), sḵwx̱ wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ ilwətaʔɬ/sel̓ ílwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh)/Vancouver, BC – The BC Civil Liberties Association, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and Hogan’s Alley Society are calling on Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, who is also the Vancouver Police Board Chair and Board Spokesperson, to immediately put a stop to police street checks in Vancouver.
According to Lama Mugabo of Hogan’s Alley Society, “The issue of police street checks is fundamentally connected to anti-Black racism and police violence in our city. With growing calls around the world to defund the police and redirect resources to more appropriate services, our city must take immediate action to reduce and end the policing of marginalized communities. This means banning racist street checks once and for all. And stopping street checks is just a start; further action is urgently needed to ensure that Black and Indigenous are safe, protected and served.”
There is rising public momentum calling for immediate action to address anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, and racialized policing practices across Canada. Mayor Kenney Stewart is now promising “a path forward” on policing issues in Vancouver. Hogan’s Alley Society, Union of BC Indian Chiefs and BC Civil Liberties Association are asking Mayor Kennedy Stewart to respond with a yes or no to the question: “Will your plan include a ban on the unnecessary, illegal, and racist practice of police street checks in Vancouver?”
“There is absolutely no legal basis for street checks. There is no evidence that street checks are valuable. A recent review of VPD street checks provided clear evidence that the VPD has been arbitrarily stopping people without lawful authority, including people who were walking in the rain or walking a dog on a church lawn. VPD must put an end to this blatantly arbitrary, illegal, and discriminatory practice,” further states Latoya Farrell of BC Civil Liberties Association.
Street checks are the practice of stopping a person outside of an investigation, and often obtaining and recording their personal information. Indigenous and Black people are significantly over-represented in the numbers of street checks conducted by the VPD. In 2017, Indigenous people accounted for over 16% of street checks despite making up 2% of the population, and Black people accounted for 5% of street checks despite making up 1% of the population. In 2016, Indigenous women, who comprise 2% of Vancouver’s women population, accounted for 21% of women who were street checked.
In June 2018, the BC Civil Liberties Association and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs filed a complaint, calling for an immediate investigation of the significant racial disparity revealed in the VPD’s practice of street checks.
According to Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs: “Street checks are artifacts of a racist policing regime and we demand that Mayor Kennedy Stewart put it in the past. In a week where RCMP senior leadership denied the existence of systemic racism in policing while First Nations are still reeling from the police killing of Chantel Moore, we need Mayor Stewart to choose to have integrity. It is unconscionable that despite all data, logic, and calls for accountability, the City of Vancouver continues to support unnecessary and unrestricted police authority in the form of street checks. Street checks put Black and Indigenous people at greater risk of violence and discrimination from police, and their prohibition is long overdue.”
Latoya Farrell, Policy Lawyer, BC Civil Liberties Association: 780-716-4408; [email protected]
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of Union of BC Indian Chiefs: 250-490-5314
Lama Mugabo, Director, Hogan’s Alley Society: 604-715-9565