News Local

Police crackdown not welcome

MATT KIELTYKA, 24 HOURS

Downtown Eastside residents are feeling a little uneasy with the Olympics fast approaching and it starts with the police, protesters say.

Supporters of the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre took to Pigeon Park yesterday to protest aggressive bylaw enforcement by police.

The women - backed by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Pivot Legal Society and Carnegie Community Action Project - say a 50 per cent spike in tickets issued to DTES residents last year is criminalizing poverty.

"People are being ticketed for basically being in the street," said organizer Harsha Walia.

Walia believes that enforcement - many for acts such as jaywalking and loitering - is being conducted "to make sure the Downtown Eastside is cleaned up for the Olympics."

BCCLA acting director David Eby said the tickets have a knock-on effect, through court no-go orders, that prevent people from accessing essential services in the Downtown Eastside.

Pivot lawyer Douglas King says his agency is helping people dispute the infractions in court.

He has also called on city council to eradicate former mayor Sam Sullivan's Project Civil City, an initiative King says has opened the door for aggressive ticketing.

"The city voted against Civil City when Gregor Robertson was elected," King said.