Vancouver Just Recovery Statement on Defunding the VPD and Supporting Black and Vulnerable Communities
June 10, 2020
The Vancouver Just Recovery Coalition stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Vancouver (BLMV) statement calling on the city to dismantle systems of violence and oppression. BLMV’s statement is viewable here.
The Vancouver Just Recovery Coalition is calling on the City of Vancouver and the Ministry of Public Safety & Solicitor General to begin a process to defund the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) and repurpose these resources to community-led frontline organizations to address poverty, mental health, drug addiction and homelessness, and to implement the necessary transparency, accountability, and democratic governance and budgetary frameworks to begin rebuilding public trust in the VPD.
The VPD currently occupies 21% of the city’s budget, representing $340 million, which is a $134 million increase over the 2008 VPD operating budget.
Vancouver is still reeling from the impacts of COVID-19, with many of these impacts being disproportionately felt by vulnerable and marginalized communities. These same communities are also most negatively impacted by annual increases to the police budget, resulting in over policing and increased street presence.
The VPD has a long history of discriminatory practices and have failed to build trust and keep vulnerable communities safe. Community advocates have identified troubling trends which highlight VPD’s practice in disproportionately “carding” Indigenous peoples, and the use of heavy-handed tactics in the DTES.
Two weeks ago the city identified a number of critical social programs and services that will be subject to cuts and reductions as the city struggles to balance its post-COVID budget. Yet despite a request to reduce their budget by 1%, equalling roughly $3 million, the VPD has refused to make any cuts to their operating budget.
The Vancouver Just Recovery Coalition is calling for the re-purposing of VPD funds to reduce the impacts of the COVID pandemic on vulnerable communities.
We need to defund police to allow cities to create budgets which reflect our community's priorities. We need to untie the hands of our elected officials and prioritize responsive, just, and representative services and policy which effectively respond to the needs of our communities.
The police have failed to protect and ensure the safety of Vancouver’s vulnerable communities while benefiting from annual budget increases. These funds could be better used by community-based organizations providing frontline services tackling issues pertaining to poverty, discrimination, mental health, and addictions. The direct injection of these much needed funds into frontline organizations will equally allow for a decrease in the demand for a police presence while providing a rise in the quality of life of these communities by supporting the provision of appropriate services and programs to respond to their specific circumstances without relying on the use of violence and punishment.
Statement by Black Lives Matter Vancouver
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