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Community activists launch Stop Racism Alliance in response to recent incidents

By Vancouver Sun |

The new alliance wants to raise awareness about racist behaviour that goes unseen, but also to work with police to establish policies for investigating charges of racism.

A city councillor, religious leaders, academics and advocates from across Metro Vancouver have launched the Stop Racism Alliance after several high-profile racist rants, including one several months ago in a Richmond parking lot and one this week in a Burnaby drugstore.

The group, which signed a declaration and outlined its goals on Thursday, said it wants to raise awareness about racist behaviour that goes unseen, to work with police and government to establish policies for investigating  racism, to support victims and to promote preventive measures.

Richmond Coun. Chak Au, who said he was acting in a personal capacity and not representing his office, said after the August video of a woman shouting racial slurs at another woman, he sensed frustration among thousands who signed petitions. They were seeking a response from police or accountability of some kind, he said.

“We noticed racism and hate crimes are more common than we thought and they can be more serious than the ones that get captured on camera,” said Au.

He said there are concerns “the handling of these cases and the application of law is inconsistent” and is not clear to the public. He said some cases lead to charges while others do not, and many people feel there needs to be better policies with specific guidelines for charges.

“I also feel that, in some cases, while the threshold for criminal charges may not be met, there should be other alternatives, such as a restorative justice system, to deal with them,” said Au.

The discussions also revealed numerous ethnic, religious and cultural groups were trying to figure out what to do about similar issues, but “they were handling them in silos with other groups, not responding to cases that involved another group. We thought that something has to be done in a different way,” said Au.

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