On Thursday, January 16, community members, press, and speakers crowded into a media room at Vancouver’s Cambie Street police headquarters. The crowd waited nearly an hour to hear the results of a Vancouver Police Board report on discriminatory bylaw enforcement in the Downtown Eastside. While the report claimed that the Vancouver Police Department is not targeting residents of the Downtown Eastside with bylaw tickets for vending and jaywalking, the crowd left the room visibly frustrated with the results of the decision.
The report was a result of the November 2013 recommendation from the Office of the Police Complaint Commission to address a complaint filed by Pivot Legal Society and the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU). The complaint, from March 2013, accused the Vancouver Police Department of discriminating and targeting residents of the DTES following documents obtained that showed 76% of jaywalking tickets and 95% of city-wide vending tickets were handed out in the neighbourhood in 2008 in a pre-Olympics ticketing blitz.
Calling the final report “just a whitewash,” Aiyanas Ormond, a VANDU spokesperson, told reporters that the board seems “hell-bent and determined to ignore what are the deeper and substantive issues and complaints.”