This morning Pivot learned about targeted violence against unhoused neighbours in so-called Langley City and the Township of Langley, on Katzie, Kwantlen, Matsqui, and Semiahmoo First Nations territory. At this time, details remain limited. A CBC article reports “two victims are dead and two others are seriously hurt after a series of shootings in Langley, B.C., prompted emergency alerts to the public on Monday”. Our hearts break for those who have been targeted this morning, and their friends and family who live with the fear of continued violence.
Despite sparse details, Pivot recognizes that unhoused community members and people who rely on public space for work and shelter face disproportionate levels of violence, criminalization and dehumanization. These conditions are also (re)created by anti-homeless rhetoric from police, city officials and media entities. Put simply, municipalities throughout BC have been able to create hostile environments that target those who have been forced into homelessness through negligent public policy and genocidal tactics, evident in our report Project Inclusion. Anti-homeless violence - whether at the hands of “vigilantes” or public policy will not stop until we confront cyclical stigma and criminalization. This is accomplished by income security, affordable housing, and safe supply, at the minimum. Compounded anti-poor and anti-homeless ideology has created the conditions that normalize violence against unhoused people.
Pivot aims to work in solidarity with unhoused community members - through challenging stigmatizing rhetoric, policy and practices such as displacement and decampment.
We demand the following:
- Add social condition to BC’s Human Rights Code. Poverty is not a crime, poverty is not inevitable, and the most marginalized members of our society deserve protection at the highest level.
- We call on municipalities to stop the sweeps of people living and sheltering in public space.
- We demand pension- and shelter-rate housing with human rights protections for every single person in BC.
With impending municipal elections this fall, we have seen political candidates and media outlets normalize anti-homeless rhetoric in the public forum. Today is truly a tragic reminder of the stigma that fuels the hatred and violence towards our most marginalized members of society. Our hearts are with unhoused individuals who are victimized through direct and political violence. We denounce the conditions that manufacture poverty and homelessness - including white supremacy, settler colonialism, anti-drug user and anti-homeless stigma.
- Project Inclusion: Confronting Anti-Homeless and Anti-Substance User Stigma in British Columbia (2019)- Pivot Legal Society
- Still Dying on the Street: Homeless Deaths in British Columbia (2016) - Megaphone Magazine
- Hate Crimes against the Homeless: The Brutality of Violence Unveiled (2012)- Homeless Hub
- Policing Homelessness in the Pandemic: Mapping Neo-Vagrancy Laws in Canada (2020) - Hermer and Fonarev
Using the law as a catalyst for positive social change, Pivot Legal Society works to improve the lives of marginalized communities.