About the Project

IMG_6263

what are these shenanigans all about?

The Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) has launched it’s fourth annual Kiss In The City photo contest, encouraging folks to submit pictures of themselves and their partner smooching in the city and upload them to their website. Sounds sweet, and if you win the contest, you’ll get a bunch of ritzy prizes. The spaces they are promoting these pictures to be taken in, as well as prizes they will be giving out, are exclusive and part of the gentrifying process of urban spaces.

And the disruption collective’s got a problem with that! see, there’s a whole ‘nother side to downtown that the DVBA would like to push under the rug – i mean, criminalize.

IMG_0638

Gentrification is the social, economic, and cultural transformation of a predominantly low-income neighbourhood through the deliberate influx of upscale residential and commercial development. Encouraged by municipal development policies, economic incentives for investors, and the mythical pull of the creative city, urban land is purchased and developed at low cost for middle-class buyers.

Criminalize is the process by which behaviors and individuals are transformed into crime and criminals

why disrupt a kissing contest?

We want all people regardless of how much money they have in their pockets to be able to love and live and kiss anywhere they want in the city.  Not just the privileged few with stacked chequing accounts and property.  We believe that the kissing contest shows only a very exclusive side of the folks who inhabit our city and that it renders invisible the folks the DVBA wants to make disappear through criminalization of poverty (by laws against sitting, setting your things down, pan handling which are enforced through social profiling).

IMG_0635

Social Profiling– Two professionals meet at a street corner in downtown Victoria. They set their laptop cases down and begin to talk to each other. One of them leans against the wall of a building. Suddenly two police officers arrive and start yelling obscenities at them. They point out a no loitering sign in the window of a nearby restaurant and while one officer demands identification and issues trespassing tickets, the other confiscates their laptops as abandoned property and throws them in the trunk of a police cruiser.

Does that sound familiar? Of course not. This type of thing would never happen to people who look like consumers or property owners. If you read that paragraph again, replace “‘professionals”‘ with “‘homeless people.”‘ It makes much more sense now. –Gordon O’connor

And what are you proposing we do?

Allow Disruption to take a photo of you smooching either your partner(s), or another special someone, (or you can smooch one of us, this is ok too!) in front of your least favorite red circle private property sign.  (Or not smooching, maybe doing something else creative – you decide!)  We’ll supply the camera and a chalk board where you can write witty slogans like “WHO CAN KISS WHERE?” or “WHO IS ALLOWED TO LOVE HERE?”.  Then, we’ll upload the photo’s to the contest website, and hopefully overwhelm the entries with photo’s disrupting their process!

so, DVBA, why are we targeting you?

You may have noticed the awful signs around the city telling people they cannot camp, trespass, loiter, or solicit. Distributed and promoted by the DVBA, this is a directed attack on a particular sector of the people who live in this city,  allowing police to harass the street involved community. Led by chief of police, Jamie Graham, who has been found guilty of ‘discreditable misconduct’ as Vancouver’s Police Chief for his obstruction of RCMP investigations into police brutality and illegal confinement of Down Town East Side (DTES) residents, the VICPD are certainly unsavory characters. These thugs, in a report released in March 2011 by the Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group (VIPIRG), have been shown to be involved in the incessant ticketing, harassment and treatment of people who are street-involved in Victoria. As a result, this community find themselves represented in the court system at a disproportionately high rate, sort of “clogging” the state’s nice punitive system. … yeah we know, kinda wants to make you puke a little in your mouth, but there’s more…

IMG_0650

How does the DVBA fit into this, beyond the private property signs? Well, they are highly implicated (read: organizing with the City and VICPD) in the experience that poor folks, oops… we mean… “repeat offenders” have in the court system. The DVBA worked for years to establish a court outside of the regular court, which is now working as the Integrated Court.

IMG_0648

This court serves to make available to the DVBA the manual labor of “criminal offenders” (poor folks) pushed through the Integrated court… communities at risk of disproportionately high ticketing from the violent VICPD because of the signs distributed by the DVBA.  (The signs are what gives the VICPD the legal ‘right’ to harass folks outside businesses with the sign).

IMG_0641

See a pattern, here?

Yep. The DVBA works with the police to criminalize poverty through signs, bylaws and a special court for folks living on the streets, which creates for themselves a pool of street-involved people who are forced to work for them– because folks who go through this court cannot PAY THE FINES and so they are forced into community service (indentured servitude?) for the DVBA.

Yeah, we know… this is fucked. This is so fucked.

So, DVBA, we really, really, REALLY want to fuck with your ritzy, gentrifying, photo contest that promotes and normalizes a class-stratified use of downtown space. You are the vehicle for a capitalist-centered use of downtown public space. This sucks. You dictate through your organizing who can use spaces when, and actively work to keep away folks who don’t have money to spend, but call the downtown space home nonetheless. This sucks.

Disruption’s comin’ at ya.

IMG_0667

Check out a couple of these links for more info.:

http://rabble.ca/news/2012/03/social-profiling-victoria-whats-wrong-picture

https://radicalhealthalliance.wordpress.com/background/regressive-policy-in-victoria/

http://socialhousingbc.com/about/

http://www.vipirg.ca/

http://socialcoast.org/component/community/groups/viewgroup/26-community-includes-everyone?Itemid=

http://www.downtownvictoria.ca/core-programs/policing

6 thoughts on “About the Project

  1. Keep it up, we have similar shit going on in Edmonton. They enforce bylaws on all the small businesses like ” you need a ramp for wheele chair access” but then whe starbucks moves in and pays alittle extra rent theu stop giving a fuck… money is so blind.

  2. I don`t understand. What is wrong with posting signs on your own private property? These signs aren’t in public space, they are only on privately owned land. I wouldn’t want random people camping in my yard either. And as far as I know, the DVBA doesn’t work with police or the city in making any bylaws regarding camping. That is a city thing. The DVBA is a non-profit organization without any power in those areas. This effort seems a bit misguided, and at the very least targeted at the wrong place. You only seem to be hurting an organization that is trying to improve our downtown. My 2 cents.

  3. Well, all the ‘property’, whatever that means, was the home to the Coast Salish and was stolen from them through a genocide that continues today. So… that is one problem that I have with your idea about this property thing.

    Two, the point, is that through Social Profiling these by laws around not loitering (on a public sidewalk… hey who the fuck got to say what is public and private and where I am allowed to be anyway…), no soliciting (pan handling… cuz fuck capitalism) putting my stuff down, camping (a person’s gotta sleep!), kneeling, sitting… are only enforced against people that look poor and not against people who do not look poor. This is fucked up. And we are not talking, nicely enforced either. You can read the Policing Poverty Report put out by VIPIRG to learn about how the state gang known as the Vic PD enforce these By Laws.

    (http://www.vipirg.ca/publications/out-of-sight-policing-poverty-in-victoria/)

    (http://rabble.ca/news/2012/03/social-profiling-victoria-whats-wrong-picture)

    And, the DVBA lobbies both the City Council (like they did for the integrated court system… which is a separate court system just for poor/street involved folk) and collaborates with the Vic PD (that is what the signs in all are photos are).

    So…. your comment seems a bit misguided, and targeted in the wrong place. You only seem to be maintaining the propaganda we are fed by authorities with lots of money and power that reinforces the status quo of Privilege and Capitalism (which they have a pretty big fucking interest in maintaining) and a healthy dose of research might help with that…. like the articles we posted on this about page and reposted in this post… just my two cents.

    • Fed by propaganda? I’m fed by doing my own research thank you. Your whole reply feels like propaganda to me, and it’s a bit all over the place. So I will try to address what I can.

      Coast Salish land? Yes, I agree, this land was conquered by aggressive colonists hundreds of years ago. Which sucks, I agree. But the whole world has been won and lost in wars. I think the First Nations of this country got royally screwed, but if it wasn’t England back then, someone else would have done it later. It is the world we live in and we can’t turn back time. But this is a totally separate conversation and outside of this whole discussion, If you actually care about the issues facing First Nations today I don’t see how this “disruption” campaign helps in the slightest. You’re only bringing it up to try and garner more support without offering any support or care for First Nations at all. So you’re free to “use” the First Nations for your cause, but I find it disrespectful. So let’s stay on topic ok?

      Social Profiling by the VicPD. Ok. If that’s what your focus is here, why target the DVBA, a non-profit organization? You say the DVBA lobbies city council and the integrated court system. Yes, they did. I researched it. But the integrated courts are NOT specific to socio-economic status as you claim. This court sentences people to community service for anything from drunk driving to marijuana possession. This is not targeting “the poor”. The DVBA lobbied to offer those sentenced an alternative for their community service. Those sentenced can choose to serve their community service with the DVBA and help clean up the garbage in downtown (or they can choose from the other usual options). It is the person’s CHOICE if they want to do this instead of other community service. This has nothing to do with profiling or attacking the poor. And if that is your true goal with this campaign, you only seem to be targeting the wrong group.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s