Defund the Watch in Lethbridge

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The Watch was established in Lethbridge in 2019 in order to increase the perception of public safety downtown. It is a volunteer-run initiative directly associated with the Lethbridge Police Service, and most volunteers are future police officers or military cadets. 

The purpose of the Watch is not to help the unhoused population in Lethbridge (the majority of whom are Indigenous), but rather to make white people feel less threatened downtown. Patrols consist of walking or driving around Lethbridge's downtown. The Watch does not do needle pickup, nor do they hand out food/supplies. They do, however, harass people on the street, and will often "escort" individuals away from businesses, only to abandon them somewhere else. They often call the police if they feel threatened.

The Watch has a budget of $1.2 million over two years. This is set to increase to $1.5 million over two years in 2021-22. The program is being reviewed by the city in November. 

The Watch was introduced to comfort white people at the cost of ignoring our unhoused population and increasing the harassment that they face daily. It is a manifestation of white supremacy, ongoing colonialism, and racist discrimination. 

This money should be going towards housing and other services for our unhoused population, not towards making white people feel safer in an area where they are not at risk. Please join me in asking the city council and mayor Chris Spearman to defund the Watch and to redirect funds towards initiatives that will directly assist those who are struggling in our city.