VicPD's street checks are racist, because of course they are

A review of one month of VicPD street check reports shows that officers disproportionately street check Indigenous individuals and members of the street community. The reports also include at least one street check that would appear to constitute police misconduct if it were held to Ontario’s new street check rules; officers policing sex work in a way that contradicts VicPD’s public statements; and officers using people’s fear of police to initiate processes that lead to street checks.

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Stephen Harrison
Victoria’s 2014 street check rate second only to Edmonton

In 2014, Victoria, B.C. police officers street checked the city’s population at a higher rate than any other jurisdiction in Canada, with the exception of Edmonton. Victoria police performed 3,059 street checks in 2014, equivalent to 3.18 per cent of Victoria and Esquimalt’s 2011 census population. For Canadian cities where I could find statistics, that made Victoria’s street check rate the second-highest in the country.

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Stephen Harrison
More defensive… parkitecture

City staff’s latest proposal would require people camping in parks to move at least 100 metres away from their campsite after they’ve packed up in the morning, and to find a new campsite for the following night that’s the same distance away. Staff say these changes, and others, will “benefit park users in general.” But these changes aren’t for the benefit of everyone — they will negatively affect and further marginalize people who rely on our city parks to stay alive.

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Stephen Harrison
Government-sanctioned defensive architecture

This post provides an update on the creeping progress of government-sanctioned defensive architecture. In April I wrote about how provincial government agencies are working with the police to come up with ways to displace people. One of those agencies is B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office: defenders of deer, protectors of porcupines, and… shredder of shrubs?

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Stephen Harrison
Let’s all go to the library

James Bay is getting a public library in 2018, fulfilling a long-standing promise from the City of Victoria. Public libraries are well-used by homeless Victorians, and I expect the James Bay branch will be no exception. What’s interesting is that the library will be right next to a new, privately owned “public plaza.” Public libraries may be for everyone, but unfortunately our “public plazas” are not.

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Stephen Harrison
Homeless people didn’t spray paint church wall

When the Central Baptist Church built a wall to keep people out of a sheltered space alongside the church, the wall was quickly spray painted with the words “Hate Gate? WWJD?” Some Victorians were aghast. Who would do such a thing? Who would build a wall to displace — wait. They were mad about the spray paint?

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Stephen Harrison
Skaters, back off!

Walking around town it’s obvious that a great deal of energy has been expended on policing skateboarders. They’re banned from certain areas, and everywhere you look metal obstacles have been installed to prevent grinding on ledges, railings, and benches.

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Stephen Harrison