Welcome to Day 18 of the Jam Unacceptable Campaign. Here’s some food for thought:
Many of the images we’ve posted over the last three weeks show that the institutional response to 30 years of rising poverty has been to turn police into defacto first responders to social issues on city streets. The welfare system has been dismantled in favour of a criminalization system.
But what about the conduct of police itself? Last year VIPIRG put out a report that showed police regularly violate the Police Act Code in their interactions with people who are street-involved. Of the 101 people VIPIRG interviewed, 91 had been approached by police in the last year in an unsolicited way, a number totally out of proportion to the percentage of housed residents who are approached by police. Moreover, 52 of the respondents reported having personal belongings like photos, ID, or sleeping bags seized.
The effects on people living in poverty are stark. Of the 101 street-involved people interviewed, 100 reported having one or more chronic health conditions or disabilities.
Police harassment of people coping with health conditions and poverty only makes their situation worse. If we want to take ending homelessness seriously we need to keep police out of health and social issues.