“People don’t deserve to be bullied and harassed” Speaking Against Private Security in the DTES

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Three CCAP volunteers spoke out at a news conference organized by Pivot Legal Society to release their new card:  Private Security Guards and Your Rights.

The news conference was held on April 17 in front of the Patricia Hotel near Dunlevy and E. Hastings.  The Hotel site was chosen because security guards have harassed local residents near there.

Lu Lu Bordeaux with her rights card

Lu Lu Bordeaux with her rights card

Lulu Bordeaux, a sex trade worker and outreach worker told the media that private security guards “mock me and take my picture.”  She said once they “pulled up on the sidewalk” beside her. Another time they forced her into an alley.  “I had to duke it out with a guy to get free.”

“It would be nice to have someone to protect me.  People in this neighbourhood don’t deserve to be bullied and harassed,” said Lulu.

Fraser Stuart, another CCAP volunteer who lives in an SRO on Jackson St. said, “harassment from security guards is constant.”  He said he was told to “move along” when he pedaled up on his bike and took out his keys to get in the building.  Stuart said some residents are approached by security guards “when they go outside the building to smoke.”  “I’m really glad Pivot has [released the card},” said Stuart.

“Women fear security guards and don’t go to them when they need help,” said Jen Allen, an outreach worker for 10 years. Pivot lawyer Doug King said the purpose of the rights card is to let people know what their rights are.  “If people have interaction with a guard, they can show them the card.”  King said he hopes the government will get more complaints about private security guards because of the card.

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The card says private security guards cannot:

  • Issue tickets
  • Demand that you move off public property
  • Ban you from a neighbourhood, public street or park
  • Take or destroy your belongings
  • Press criminal charges.

The card says private security guards must be licensed and carry ID and present it if someone asks them for it.

Doug King, Pivot Legal Society
Doug King, Pivot Legal Society

CCAP volunteers have met with the Strathcona Business Improvement Association which hires CSC in the Strathcona and Oppenheimer areas and with Mission Possible, a social enterprise that hires local outreach workers to do patrols.  The CCAP volunteers want the BIA to hire Mission Possible instead of CSC.

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Fighting the Injustice of By-Law Tickets and “Proactive” Policing

By Dave Hamm
Originally published in the Downtown East Newspaper April 2013

My first ticket for vending happened at Denman and Robson. I had injured my back, and was staying with a friend in a hotel. I needed to get $10 each day to pay the hotel guest fee, so I would push a cart along Granville, Davie, Denman and Robson collecting items and selling them. I did that for a month or so. When I set up outside Safeway, they didn’t like it and I got a ticket for illegal vending. I couldn’t pay the fine so I fought it, hoping the cop wouldn’t show up and it would be thrown out. But she did and I got banned from the block for a year and ordered to keep the peace.

After returning to work for a while I encountered further health problems and ended up on social assistance. It was not enough to survive on, so I started selling stuff on the street. As I see it, vending is a benign way to survive within an economy of enforced poverty. It’s an informal bartering system that actually fits within the mayor’s Green City idea of renew, reuse, recycle. Continue reading

Tell Strathcona BIA to end their contract with private security companies

Volunteers at the Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) have asked the Strathcona Business Improvement Association (BIA) to

hire the Mission Possible security and outreach service instead of CSC Security.

The CCAP volunteers met with Mission Possible in January and with Joji Kumagai, Executive Director of the BIA, and with a committee of the BIA in February and March.

Lu Lu B speaking about the displacement of sex workers by private security guards at the site of the coming Wall condo project at 955 E Hastings

Lu Lu B speaking about the displacement of sex workers by private security guards at the site of the coming Wall condo project at 955 E Hastings

At the two meetings with the BIA on March 8 and March 21, Darcie Bennett, Campaigns Director with Pivot Legal Society, told the group that Pivot has filed a complaint about CSC security with the BIA and the provicial regulator. The complaint outlined problem behaviour by CSC guards including telling women to “move along”, taking pictures of women, and talking to them in an intimidating way.  Private security guards have no more power than regular citizens when on public property.

At the meetings with Kumagai and the BIA, one local resident told about being told to “move on” by CSC when he was standing in front of the building he lives in getting his keys out.  He told of CSC telling some Indigenous women under an awning in the pouring rain to “move along.”

A woman said CSC staff take pictures of sex workers with their phone cameras, and make degrading remarks to sex workers.

Another woman said “We hope a car with a uniformed person has a duty to protect us too.”

“Can you train people you hire about the culture in our community so they don’t say, ‘there’s a dirty whore’ and move her along?” asked another woman.

Brian Postlewaite of Mission Possible told the CCAP volunteers on Jan. 25 that their security service trains local Downtown Eastside workers who already know the community.  They hand out clean needles and refer people to services.  They don’t tell people to “move along” and have strict policies against abusive language and disrespectful manners.  As a condition of support from the CCAP volunteers Postlewaite agreed to have an independent third party complaint resolution process if hired by the Strathcona BIA.

The BIA hasn’t decided yet who to hire.

$100 reward for missing community plaque

After a three-year negotiation with City Hall Carnegie Community Action Project and the Vancouver District Labour Council finally got PLAQUE_olaf solheim plaque_COLORtwelve historic plaques put up around the East Side commemorating our histories of community resistance. The historic plaques were launched with a news conference in March and city engineers put them all up on poles. But…

One plaque, commemorating the death of Olaf Solheim and the struggle against the Expo ‘86 SRO hotel displacement, went missing within the first few hours of it going up outside the Patricia Hotel. The owner of the Patricia is the same person who evicted Olaf in 1986. The City is so far refusing to pay for a replacement so CCAP is posting a reward for the plaque’s recovery.

Downtown Eastside through the eyes of Chinese residents (English & Chinese)

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King-mong Chan facilitating meeting with Chinese seniors

Downtown Eastside through the eyes of Chinese residents

By: King-mong Chan

Over the past weeks, I’ve been talking with Chinese people in the community at food line-ups, different organizations, and recently at a community meeting last Thursday (March 7th) where almost 35 people, mostly seniors, gathered inside the Oppenheimer Park House.  Most of the people I’ve talked to don’t speak or understand English.  The community meeting also revealed that many of them have a low education level; they were not able to read Chinese or even write their own Chinese name.  Given this, what are their experiences living in the DTES?

Similar to what was identified in CCAP’s Community Vision for Change, the participants of the community meeting said that the DTES is an important place for them.  Some of the main reasons were that “shopping is very convenient” and that “there are a lot of Chinese people” here.  Their social life is central to them: many of them talked about how great it was to “socialize” with others and to “take part in social activities” with such as Bingo and Mah-Jong.

Again, it was also echoed in the meeting that there was a need for more “public housing” and the people at the meeting noted that “everything is getting more and more expensive.”  However, they also spoke specifically about the discrimination they face.  One of them had an experience where she was told to “Go back to China” and “Go to Chinatown” by others.  This discrimination was also sadly present in the food lines/services where they see non-Chinese people getting large amounts of food while their portions are much smaller.  The language barrier is also very severe as people felt out of the loop with regards to events and programs and that there were only limited places where they could communicate their stories and opinions to other people and be understood.

CCAP will be organizing more such meetings and dialogue so Chinese speaking residents can add their voices and needs to a social justice plan for the future of the whole low-income community. With greater non-Chinese resident understanding of the lived experiences of Chinese people, CCAP hopes we can help them become more accepted as part of the DTES community.

從東端生活的中國人的角度去看他們的社區

作者:陳敬望

過去的幾個星期,我在不同的派發食物服務地點及服務機構和上週四(3月7日)在日本花園舉辦的社區會議內與中國人傾談。參加會議有近35人,多數是長者。他們大多數都不能講及聽英語。 在這個會議內我們發現許多人的教育水平都很低。甚致有大部份的人都不懂中文(看及寫),連寫自己的中文名字都不能。在這個情況下,你説他們所過的生活及經歴是甚麽呢?

好像卡麗基社區行動計劃的報告:『社區改變的異象』裏所提及到參加會議的人都説市中心東端是一個對他們很重要的地方。 主要原因是因為買東西很方便和因為東端有很多唐人。 相信你們可以看到社交生活是對他們非常重要的。 他們都説他們很高興可以在這裏舆其他人聯誼及參加社交活動, 例如:玩Bingo和打麻將等等。

參加者及其他住在東端的人都同樣説:『東端需要更多公屋。』 我也聽到他們説: 『全部東西都越來越貴。』 還有他們都提及到他們被人歧視的經歴。有一位長者對我分享她有幾次被人叫她回中國或叫她去唐人街! 很可悲的種族歧視都發生在派發食物服務地點,雖然他們看到非中國人獲得分配到大量的食物,但他們只得到的分量就特别小。他們也説到語言障礙亦是嚴重的問題,例如:他們很多時都很遲才得知有社區活動或有新的服務。他們也覺得没有足夠的地點給他們去和人溝通和發表自己的想法,並很想可以被人了解。

卡麗基社區行動計劃會繼續舉辦更多的社區會議和對話,使住在東端的中國人的聲音和需要能帶入一個為整個低收入社區的未來的社會公義計劃。我們希望透過非中國人更深入認識關於中國人過的生活及經歴, 我們能幫助中國人被整個東端社群更加接納。

Jean Swanson responds to Province editorial “The sooner the DTES is fixed up the better”

Poor bashing editorial published by the Province Newspaper
“The best thing that could happen to the DTES is already happening — it’s being cleaned up….[with] the most expensive real estate in Canada.”

Consider writing a response: provletters@png.canwest.com

Fri, Apr 20, 2012 at 1:49 PM
Subject: letter to the editor
To: provletters

Dear Editor,

Re: your editorial on “cleaning up” the Downtown Eastside

Coming from the Downtown Eastside where caring and working for social justice are fundamental community values, it is hard to comprehend your editorial.

No one in the DTES is arguing for the status quo. DTES residents desperately want and need social housing, more treatment facilities, and policies about drug use that are based on health and human rights principles.

The Sequel condo proposal will promote gentrification that will push out current residents from the neighbourhood where they do have some services and housing (much of it deplorable, true) and a community that cares about them. No one knows where they will be able to go. The city has promised “no displacement” of current residents. The low income community is working extremely long hours to try to make this happen. Sensationalist editorials that stereotype neighbourhood residents don’t contribute to a rational outcome.

Yours truly,

Jean Swanson