By Eva Ureta
Close to 60 people gathered at Surrey’s Progressive Cultural Centre on January 26, 2019, to take part in Anti-Police Power (APP) Surrey’s discussion on “Challenging Police Power in Surrey”. APP Surrey is a community based grass roots initiative to build collective resistance against police power in Surrey. Members live and work in Surrey are dedicated to challenging the current narrative of the state of policing. APP Surrey is an anti-capitalist and anti-colonial collective that support working class community struggles for survival and power.
APP Surrey presented on a range of topics: Mayor McCallum’s safety policies; policing in postsecondary schools; moral panic and gang violence; Surrey Board of Trade and gentrification, and; layered and integrated policing. Once APP speakers wrapped up their presentations, everyone was given the opportunity to speak out about policing issues they have experienced. Not surprising the presentations struck a chord with nearly everyone.
Discussions between community members quickly broke out and specifically around the coercive tactics used by the Surrey RCMP. Police were exposed for their strategies when it came to recruiting students (elementary to postsecondary) to act as snitches and agents of the state. Parents in attendance were concerned and felt the safety and security of their children who are under constant surveillance.
On a positive note, all in attendance want to see change. Everyone seemed encouraged to see APP openly challenging and confronting the state of policing in Surrey. Some shared the need to get involved in some issues that directly affect them or members of their community. APP Surrey came prepared and announced that at the Civic Plaza on January 29th the Surrey Board of Trade is hosting a “RCMP or Municipal Police Dialogue” from 7:30–9:30am.
APP Surrey will be present at 7:00am to handout leaflets to attendees. It was pointed out that this event is free and if anyone is interested they can reserve a ticket on Eventbrite. The dialogue is aimed at the transition to a municipal police force from the current RCMP and what would have better outcomes regarding public safety: the costs and benefits of a municipal police force; the costs and benefits of keeping the RCMP, and; business impacts on such a change.
A major initiative of APP Surrey is to highlight how resources are constantly being funneled into policing initiatives (integrating police-led programming at schools or expanding the police force) which is a misappropriation of public dollars especially in light of there being a housing, homeless and opioid crisis. The consensus from the “Challenging Police Power in Surrey” was unanimous: divest from police and invest in communities.