Anti-Police Power Surrey Confronts RCMP ‘Open House’ Public Relations Stunt

By Jeff Shantz and Eva Ureta

 On Saturday May 11, 2019, Anti-Police Power Surrey (APPS) went to Surrey RCMP headquarters to confront their “Police Week” open house event. The aim was to Stand openly against police domination in Surrey, British Columbia (unceded Coast Salish territories) and to oppose police public relations stunts and the wasting of public resources on policing.

While essential community services go badly underfunded or excluded by the City of Surrey, police in the city have no shortage of resources for whatever exercise they determine is useful to reinforcing their power and reach in the community. This includes for useless copaganda contrivances like “Police Week.” Complete with a “mini jail” for kids and a flyover by the police helicopter, the RCMP spared no expense to try to make repression and state violence seem like fun for all ages.

Ahead of the event APPS released a statement. It reads in part:

“You can count on the Surrey RCMP to show up at community events and festivals, take selfies, and hand out stickers to kids. This is part of a concerted effort to normalize the massive police presence in Surrey by branding police as ‘family friendly’ and ‘community oriented.’ But regardless of any public relations efforts, police remain a threat to our communities. They surveil and harass homeless people, enforce the catastrophic war on drugs, and terrorize racialized and Indigenous communities, profiling and brutalizing young people of colour with impunity.”

APPS was having none of it and set up an alternative table to discuss the harms police inflict on our communities, the massive consumption of social resources involved in policing, and the need for non-repressive community alternatives. APPS also distributed an information pamphlet discussing the RCMP killings of Nona McEwan and Randy Crosson in Surrey in March. Police do not keep us safe—too often they kill.

Many good and important conversations were had, and many people were surprised to see open opposition to police right at their doorstep on their special “Police Day.” One point that grabbed the attention of the public was the cost of policing in Surrey (33% of tax payers dollars which could go to other resources that could address real issues of crime) and further talks about the proposed switch/transition from the Surrey RCMP into a municipal force. Weather a firm believer in policing or on the fence most of public engaging in dialogue with APPS agreed that both come at a hefty price tag and at a cost to the citizens of Surrey, especially youth! More such opposition is needed.

Anti-Police Power Surrey is a group of people living and working in Surrey who oppose the domination of police, police violence and repression, and the wasteful, and wildly disproportionate, expenditure of public resources on policing in Surrey. APPS calls for social resources for communities not cops, for people not police and aims for the development of non-repressive social supports and care.