Against Policing and the Politics of Fear: A Discussion About Moral Panic Over Crime in Surrey

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Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey. November 8, 2018

 By Jeff Shantz

 Public discussion and debate on social services and public safety are overwhelmingly framed by fear politics and policing. On Thursday, November 8, 2018, I hosted and spoke at the panel, “Against Policing and the Politics of Fear: A Discussion About Moral Panic Over Crime in Surrey,” organized by Anti-Police Power Surrey (APPS), a newly formed coalition mobilizing to challenge police dominance in Surrey and develop community-based alternatives to police.

I opened the event with a discussion of layered policing and the extension of police functions throughout the fabric of everyday life in Surrey. And noted that the crime panic in Surrey is ramping up even as crime rates, including for violent crime, are falling. Harleen Gill, a Kwantlen Polytechnic University criminology student spoke about her work in a campaign @EndSurreyGangs to offer community based alternatives to police in response to concerns about gangs in Surrey. Isabel Krupp of APPS followed this discussion up by addressing moral panic, racist anxieties, and the Surrey Gang Task Force. Dave Diewert of APPS focused on the Surrey Outreach Team and the criminalization of poverty with particular attention to policing of the 135A Strip in Surrey. Lenee Son offered insights into an issue of repression given little attention in Surrey, the new immigration detention center. Son discussed migrant justice in Surrey as a crucial part of social justice. Finally Eva Ureta of APPS provided a significant reflection on community-based alternatives to policing. This is the work that needs to be done—developing real world alternatives and resources for social solidarity.

The event was extremely well attended as the Birch 250 meeting room was completely filled. Even more, participants were actively engaged with the issue as there were many relevant questions and discussions about ways to oppose police dominance and, significantly, about organizing a community alternative to police in Surrey.

As a first public meeting of APPS, following an earlier protest against a Coffee with Cops copaganda event, this was a very encouraging start. Challenging police and their multifaceted presence in Surrey is pressing and necessary work. It is good to see so many who live and work in Surrey engage with how that work can be effectively done.

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