In late November, 2014, Du Na Phuong (Tony) was shot by the Vancouver Police Department at the intersection of Knight Street and East 41st Avenue. Du, age 51, was waving a two-by-four plank of wood on the east side of the street. No people were nearby and nobody reported being threatened, yet police shot Du within one minute of arriving at the scene.
This spring, the provincial government will be asking Metro Vancouver residents if they approve of a new TransLink funding proposal. The social democrats are coming out of the woodwork to throw their weight behind the ‘Yes’ side in the referendum, as though it were some kind of grand cause. In reality, neither a ‘yes’ vote nor a ‘no’ vote will have an impact on the political direction of transit in our region: privatization, criminalization of the poor, racial profiling, and ‘service’ geared to corporate profits rather than people’s needs.
Today, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Public Library broke ground on a new library in Strathcona. The new VPL branch includes 21 units of social housing for single mothers. Despite positive media coverage, the truth is that the social housing units were built despite Vision Vancouver’s plans for the project.
On June 24th, 2014, Vancouver city council voted unanimously to formally acknowledge that the city is built on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish Indigenous peoples. After more than a century of denial and erasure, the motion might have opened the way for real change in Vancouver. And yet when the motion was put forward, Councillor Andrea Reimer told the media that the gesture wouldn’t affect the legal practices of the City of Vancouver. “[Reimer] isn’t concerned,” reported the Toronto Sun, “about possible legal ramifications of declaring the city is on unceded territory because Vancouver is not involved in treaty negotiations and has no such authority over land.”
Last week, on November 22nd, a Vancouver Police Department (VPD) officer shot and killed a 51 year old man at the intersection of East 41st Avenue and Knight Street. The man was Phuong Na (Tony) Du. Within one minute of arriving at the scene, one of the officers drew his gun and shot Du to death. Before the shooting, Du was visibly distraught. According to eyewitnesses, Du was talking to himself while waving a piece of two-by-four wood on an empty sidewalk.
In recent years we have seen a massive bolstering of the capacity of the Canadian state to contain poor and oppressed communities. These shifts have worked to target, criminalize and incarcerate those who most actively resist neoliberal and colonial policies. This neoliberal “containment state” is grounded in new ways of criminalizing people and communities, an increase in police and police power, and an expanding prison industrial complex.