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Joint Letter to City of Vancouver regarding Decriminalizing Poverty

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The BCCLA joins twenty other organizations in calling on the City of Vancouver to act on it’s July 2020 Motion titled “Decriminalizing Poverty and Supporting Community-led Safety Initiatives.”

As one of the organizations identified in the July 2020 Motion Decriminalizing Poverty and Supporting Community-led Safety Initiatives, we are renewing our call on the City to shift from policing and invest in community-based services, specifically non-police interventions that support people who are impacted by homelessness, toxic drug supply, mental health distress, and those working in informal economies and criminalized industries, such as sex work.

Although the Decriminalizing Poverty Motion was approved last year, there have been multiple initiatives from the Vancouver Police Department that contradict Council’s stated commitments. This includes the deployment of the Neighbourhood Response Teams initiative and the creation of the Trespass Prevention Program, and most recently, news that a wealthy donor has earmarked $100K annually to “provide additional resources to VPD officers who are dealing with individuals in crisis due to mental health or addiction issues,” as outlined by Vancouver Police Foundation executive director Andrea Wright.

These initiatives and investments flout efforts to decriminalize poverty, and instead design new pathways to criminalization, particularly for people who rely on public space.

Read the joint letter here.