Vancouver police street checks are racist, need to stop: advocates

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Advocates for local Black and Indigenous people want the Vancouver Police Department to put a formal end to street checks.

Lama Mugabo, with Hogan’s Alley Society, said the checks carried out by the Vancouver Police Department constitute racial profiling and are intimidating.

The group works to advance the well-being of Black people in Vancouver and, along with Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, is calling for the practice end.

“It’s a waste of people’s time because you are stopped at random and you are asked a bunch of questions. At that moment, you don’t know if you are detained and the presence of police in uniform with a gun is threatening,” Mugabo said.

“We’re really tired of being racially profiled. It reminds me of George Floyd when he was saying, ‘I can’t breathe.’ Then he dies. How long are we going to say, ‘Stop harassing us.'”

He added police needs to listen to the community and to really see how the street checks are damaging.

“If they want to build trust with community members, they have to listen to us, and they have to work with us.”

In 2017, five per cent of Vancouver Police street checks involved Black people, despite that group representing just one per cent of the population.

The police department modified its policy around what’s generally known as carding in January to make those checks “voluntary.”

The VPD was unavailable for comment.

However, on Thursday, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart called on Premier John Horgan to conduct a comprehensive review of all policing in B.C., including use-of-force policies, systemic racism, and disproportional violence experienced by Black and Indigenous people.

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