Defund the Vancouver Police Department

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This petition is on the Unceded Coast Salish Territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Waututh).

With a call to defund police departments growing, we must examine that possibility in Canada. The Vancouver Police Department budget has grown more than $100 million in the last decade, to about $314 million in 2020. We call on the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Board to research and implement defunding of the police budget to create more funding for social services without taking away from core police work, but allowing for other professionals with the expertise to help.

More info:

THE TYEE: Defund Police? Dismantle Them? What Then?
Should Canada emulate the bold step Minneapolis is taking?

Here is an adapted letter from a previous one that has been sent by a supporter. Thank you very much to those for your labour in creating this text. You can take it and adapt it as need be for your letter.

Dear City of Vancouver Mayor & Councillors,

(Personalize it here, stating who you are, why you are writing.)

As elected officials, I implore you to:

- In the framework of our City of Reconciliation (proclaimed in 2014) to stop using policing to solve social problems and recognize that investment is needed in other areas to repair our communities (health and wellness strategies and investments and increasing [meaningful] employment). Especially considering the needs for front-line work throughout and following the current pandemic.

- Propose and implement VPD budget cuts, year after year, that eventually divests us from policing.

- Expand community-led health and safety initiatives over future financial investment into the Vancouver Police Department.

- Invest in the public sector workers who would lose their jobs at VPD. Invest in their education and retraining that will allow them to work in other arenas of the broader public sector. Especially in the arenas of provision of housing, physical and mental health care work, education, transformative justice, and harm reduction.

Increased police presence does not keep us all safe, rather it directly threatens the lives of our most vulnerable community members (Black, Indigenous, people of colour, transgender, Two-Spirit, queer, unhoused people in the DTES, street-based sex workers, people with disabilities, people experiencing poverty, etc.).

Instead of investing in the police, our city must invest in alternatives like education, increased mental health services, housing initiatives, income security, harm reduction services, accessible rehabilitation, arts and cultural programs, social workers, conflict resolution services, transformative justice, and other vital community-based support systems. These initiatives must support our most vulnerable communities and centre the experiences of Black and Indigenous peoples in Vancouver as well as other members of our communities that have experienced trauma from oppressive state forces – here and in places they may have emigrated from. And the investment in staffing these resources means the people you hire come from the aforementioned communities.

I urge you all to redistribute our tax dollars by consulting directly with, funding, and otherwise supporting organizations led by folks who experience the most harm and oppression. These organizations might include:

BC Community Alliance
Hogan's Alley Society
Black Lives Matter - Vancouver, BC
Vancouver Aboriginal Transformative Justice Services SocietyBWSS Battered Women's Support Services
WAVAW-Rape Crisis Centre
WISH Drop-In Centre Society
Carnegie Community Action Project

This is not an exhaustive list and the city staff and community partners will likely know of additional organizations that are led by, and work with, those on the front-lines of community building, harm reduction, health, education, housing, and social services.

What we need in Vancouver is leadership that can initiate reform that aims towards the eventual abolition of police and prisons. This is your chance to leave a meaningful legacy!

Finally, all of this change must be undertaken in meaningful consultation with the First Nations upon whose unceded land you serve.