SOLID condemns policing of visible drug trade

SOLID recently sent a letter to the Times Colonist regarding their revealing of the VicPD’s undercover sting called “Rock the Block”:

“As an organization that provides outreach services to people who use illicit drugs, we are deeply disturbed by the recent article (K. Derosa, June 14, 2012) revealing the results of VicPD’s undercover sting called “Rock the Block.” In an effort to target the “open air drug trade,” two months of police resources culminated in 16 arrests this past Tuesday and Wednesday.  Ten of the 12 named in the paper had no fixed address, evidence of the targeting of the street community, those who are living in poverty and who may be “trafficking” small quantities of illicit drugs for daily survival, if they are indeed convicted. The research is clear that disrupting the street level drug trade increases violence and makes marginalized people more vulnerable. Printing the names of the individuals who are innocent, until proven guilty, further stigmatizes these individuals. The fact that the police spent Tuesday outside Our Place with their list of people to arrest, using public displays of unnecessary force to take down their victims, served to keep people away from one of the few places to get hot food in Victoria.  It is clear that the approach to removing the “open-air” or “visible” drug trade is a colossal waste of money that addresses the symptoms, as opposed to the root causes of drug use, addiction, trauma, homelessness and poverty. As a community, we all need to understand addiction as a health issue, not a criminal issue.  We need to dedicate more resources to harm reduction services, including supervised consumption services, to make Victoria a safer community for all citizens.”

-Society of Living Illicit Drug Users, a peer-run organization

 

Community Solidarity for Harm Reduction Week

May 28-June 2 is now declared “Community Solidarity for Harm Reduction Week”

SOLID, in partnership with AIDS Vancouver Island (AVI), Universities Without Walls (UWW) and other harm reduction organizations in Victoria held a week of events aimed at reflecting on the struggles for harm reduction in Victoria, while highlighting the successes in other parts of the country.

The main event SOLID worked on was the Peer Convergence where 11 members of our latest Leadership Street College educational curriculum ran a day of workshops around drug use as a health issue, not a criminal issue; decriminalization and legalization of drugs; local harm reduction issues; local policing issues, among others. The day was a great success with about 80 people attending the event! Much was learned and shared.

Pivot Legal Society ran a workshop on their Yimby Toolkit that week and participated in the “Why Insite Won” event. They did a great job of summarizing the week in this article below. Please click on it to read their blog post.

http://www.pivotlegal.org/pivot-points/blog/victoria-harm-reduction-week