Mayor Kennedy Stewart calls to end street checks in Vancouver

Jun 22 2020, 3:33 pm

Mayor Kennedy Stewart announced on Monday his plans to end the practice of street checks in Vancouver.

In an emailed statement, he explained that he’ll be bringing a motion to City Council, with hopes that it passes and allows the Vancouver Police Board take further action.

Stewart says that because he’s also chair of the police board, he won’t have the ability to vote or move motions related to the board, which is why it will go through council first.

The mayor also says that “thanks to the actions of the province and the police board, 89% of street checks have already been ended.”

“Now is the time to bring the practice to a complete end,” he says. “Black, Indigenous and other communities of colour have long called for an end to this practice, and that is what I hope to see happen at the police board.”

The mayor’s statement notes that thousands of people and organizations around the world and in Vancouver are calling for an end to street checks, which is the practice of “stopping a person outside of an investigation, and often obtaining and recording their personal information.”

In 2018, data released by the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) showed that nearly 100,000 street checks had been completed between 2017 and 2018.

Of those street checks, Indigenous and Black people were “significantly overrepresented,” according to Stewart’s motion. He also writes that the police board “has the authority to end the practice of street checks in Vancouver.”

In 2018, the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs launched a formal complaint against the VPD, against “discriminatory police stops.” According to the BCCLA, approximately 15% (14,536) of all street checks were of Indigenous people, while 4% (4,365) of all street Checks were of Black people.

The BCCLA points out that at the time, Indigenous people made up approximately 2% of the population of Vancouver, while Black people made up only 1%.