Not one more dime for the cops that assault us

Alliance Against Displacement calls for the City of Vancouver to redirect the VPD budget to housing for the homeless

As Vancouver’s City Council readies to vote to increase the budget for the city’s police department, which they do obediently and without hesitation every year, a Global News story has appeared complaining about the cost of managing Oppenheimer Park tent city. These are two sides of the same coin: when it comes to police budgets, public dollars gush forth like water from an open fire hydrant, while the spigot of services for the poor is rusted shut and padlocked for the winter.

Austerity may be the wrong term to describe the trend of public service funding cuts that our communities have been suffering for the last 30 years. While budgets have been sliced, diced, shrunk, and reduced for housing, welfare, child care, transit, health care, and education, this austerity has not been applied across the board. These public dollars have not been lost, they have been redirected to the cops.

In a similar move, taxes, the source of these public dollars, have been cut, but only for some. The BC Liberals cut corporate taxes by about 60% at the start of their 4 terms in office. The taxes that have not been cut are the ‘flat’ taxes that are disproportionately borne by the poor; particularly those taxes that come in the form of transit fares, post secondary tuition, and rents to parasitic landlords. These are taxes that we pay in order for our lives to be of service to business demands in the city. When the Liberals gift corporations tax cuts and the NDP guards those deflated rates, the cost of resting, commuting, feeding our bodies, and caring for children, in order to return to work for these corporations is offloaded to us; particularly to working class and Indigenous women. Their tax cuts are a tax increase for women.

Our communities also bear the weight of regulatory subsidies to massive corporate powers that, in the words of both former Premier Christy Clark and current Premier John Horgan, “grow the economy.” BC’s capitalist economy grows through the government-organized, police and court-enforced, and corporate-profiting theft of the wealth of Indigenous lands. Municipal economies, meanwhile, grow through city governments auctioning-off the airspace above our low-rise apartment buildings for high density condo towers, which are really a densification of private wealth.

Capitalist growth in rural areas, through public-private partnerships of resource extraction, requires the dispossession of sovereign Indigenous nations. Capitalist growth in cities, through public-private partnerships for condo densification, requires the demolition and displacement of low-income working class and Indigenous communities out of our homes and into the streets.

What has changed over the last 30 years is that the rich pay less and the poor pay more. We pay more for less housing, education, health, childcare, and welfare; we pay more for more police.

We pay more for more police to raid our tent cities; to violate our privacy in our tents; to pitchfork our tents and steal our belongings. We pay for police to shake us down in racist carding stops; to turn our pockets out when they identify us as survivors of their war on drugs and their overdose genocide. We pay for police that show up to evict us from the apartments we can’t afford to rent. We pay for police to laugh and dismiss us when we are beaten and sexually assaulted. We pay the police to assault and murder us and for (former) police to investigate the police who assaulted and murdered us. 

Police may have absorbed the funds that used to go to social housing, but police “services” at tent cities do not replace housing. Alliance Against Displacement calls for the City of Vancouver to defund, disarm, and disband the Vancouver Police Department and send all that money back to funding for public services and resources, starting with homes for all. Refusing Chief Palmer’s call for yet another budget increase would be a step in the right direction.

Alliance Against Displacement
December 9, 2019

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