VANCOUVER — Downtown Eastside activists took their protests of police harassment to the steps of the Vancouver police station Sunday.
The activists, who want to know why public money is spent to lay nuisance charges such as jaywalking, set up a garage sale at the entry to the station at 312 Main St.
“At a time when there is so much concern in the region about gun violence, all these police resources are being used handing out tickets to people who will never be able to afford to pay them,” said Ann Livingston, executive director of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users. “I find it unbelievable.
“It is further marginalizing people who are already struggling to survive.”
Under a portable tent structure, a group sold a variety of goods to protest tickets for unauthorized “vending.”
“The poverty in this area has been put on the police business plan as a crime issue,” said David Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. “People can’t afford these tickets — it’s $100, and that’s almost one-third of the $375 they have to live on each month.”
Priscilla Mays of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre accused the police of trying to sweep the streets before the Olympics.
“It is not a coincidence that the increased ticketing is happening in the lead-up to the Olympic Games,” she said. “It is happening to ensure that residents live in a state of fear and intimidation so that the [Downtown Eastside] is cleansed of poor and homeless people in time for the tourists.”
City Coun. Kerry Jang said the ticketing is part of the Project Civil City campaign that’s a leftover from the previous city government.