On January 27th, 2013, the Disruption Collective in Victoria, Traditional Coast Salish Territories submitted photographs to the Downtown Victoria Business Association’s Kiss in the City contest. They were removed from the facebook page, where photos were to be submitted the next day. The DVBA did not include conditions for entry that would have been violated by the photographs submitted by the Disruption Collective. The collective was also blocked from posting new photo’s to the contest.
These photographs show people kissing in view of the private property signs distributed by the DVBA. This action was designed to draw attention to the business association for its involvement in the ongoing criminalization of poverty in the city.
According to Julie Anne Blackpen, Disruption Collective member, “The 4th annual kissing contest is a vehicle for the DVBA to promote an exclusive, consumer-oriented image of the downtown area, effectively complimenting its efforts to police who can use downtown, and what activities are allowed. “
The DVBA has a long history of working with the police and the court system to privatize space and criminalize poverty in its district.
The DVBA instigated the distribution of private property signs to downtown businesses, which allow police to harass street-involved people who call the downtown area home. Through the incessant ticketing by the VICPD, this community is disproportionately over-represented in the court system, and is filtered through the alternative Integrated Court system, making them vulnerable to forced community service for the DVBA. We call this out as indentured servitude and classist social profiling.
Serina Zapf, also of the Disruption Collective, explains that, “We believe that the kissing contest shows only a very exclusive segment of the folks who inhabit our city and that it renders invisible those who the DVBA wants to make disappear through the criminalization of poverty. The fact that the DVBA removed our submissions to the contest only serves to illustrate the DVBA’s desire to hide their complicity in the harassment of the city’ Street Involved.”
The Disruption collective plans to continue to take photographs and try to submit them to the contest up until the Kiss in the City deadline of February 3rd.