Conversations on Community Safety Policing Poverty

When: Monday, March 26, 2018 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Where: Surrey City Centre Library 10350 University Drive (just west of Surrey Central Skytrain Station) Dr. Ambedkar Room (fourth floor)

The focus for the second “Conversation on Community Safety” meeting will be policing poverty in Surrey.

  • The City’s response to the homeless crisis on 135A Street (the Strip) has been to station an outreach team of 12 RCMP and 4 bylaw officers on the Strip to enforce surveillance and control over its residents. Under the banner of “public health and safety,” this strategy criminalizes people forced to survive conditions of deprivation and deteriorating health.
  • Tactics of survival, such as panhandling, binning, low-level drug dealing, and sex work, are prohibited under various laws, and people who engage in them are targeted by police. Criminalization constructs individuals as the problem, not the system that produces poverty.
  • Policing homeless and low-income people always serves the interests of businesses and property owners. The Strip in Surrey is in the middle of an area that is on the verge of massive property development and business expansion, so the containment and removal of homeless people is a priority for the City.
  • Police are woven into health and housing policies as they expand their involvement in supportive housing management and mental health responses.
  • Despite the opioid overdose crisis, police continue their policy of criminalization and have increased drug arrests in the failed and costly War on Drugs.

At this community discussion we want to unpack these issues together. We’ll hear from people surviving homelessness and poverty about their experience with police, probe the structural and ideological underpinnings of poverty and its criminalization, and talk about ways we can organize together to take action against state oppression.