Black Lives Matter protesters block viaducts for second day
VANCOUVER -- Black Lives Matter protesters continue to block the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts in Vancouver for a second day, as they call for a number of changes in the city to address systemic racism.
The protest started Saturday morning when people blocked the entrances to both roadways. When the viaducts were constructed in the 1970s, a city mandate forced the displacement the Hogan's Alley neighbourhood, which was home to Vancouver’s Black community.
In social media posts, protest organizers said: "We are reclaiming the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaduct to honour the black life and community that once thrived in these exact streets while commemorating the lives of Black LGBTQS+ folks in Canada and around the world lost to anti-Blackness and police brutality."
Members of the group have declined to speak to CTV News Vancouver, but list a number of calls for change on the Black Lives Matter Vancouver website.
The group says it wants to see funding redirected from the police budget to a range of social services "that demonstrably support long-term community safety," like child care, education, mental health and social supports and access to recreational facilities.
The group also wants the city to "commit to improving social conditions across the city with a commitment to the goal of eventually demolishing the police and prisons, as they serve the primary purpose of oppressing marginalized communities and protecting the riches of the wealthy minority of denizens."
As well, Black Lives Matter Vancouver is calling on the city to move forward with establishing a "Black-led non-profit community land trust on the former Hogan's Alley block within the Northeast False Creek area."
Stephanie Allen, a founder and board member of the Hogan's Alley Society, called out the city last week for not moving quickly enough on the land trust proposal. In an interview Friday, she said the society had submitted a memorandum of understanding to the city two years ago, but has still not received a response.
The proposal for a land trust came out of consultations with the Black community as the city started to talk about the redevelopment of the Northeast False Creek area, and an opportunity for redress was recognized, Allen said in a previous interview.
"The community was really clear about what Black people are looking for in this city and in this region," she said. "Affordable housing, accessible public spaces, cultural spaces, spaces for children, for families, for elders, spaces for small businesses and non-profits."
Mayor Kennedy Stewart has no plans to meet with the protesters, according to his director of communications, Alvin Singh.
“But (he) has and will continue to work on many of the issues that BLM and others have identified,” Singh wrote in an email to CTV News Vancouver.
Referring to comments Stewart made on Thursday, calling on the province to conduct a review of policing in B.C., Singh added: “As he said on Thursday however, 95 per cent of the power to change how policing is done lies with the provincial government, as does funding for things like child care, education, mental health, social services, justice services and employment programs.”
Aaron Roed, a spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department, said protesters continue to block the viaducts and police are monitoring the protest.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Carly Yoshida-Butryn.