Favourite local grassroots group

Supplied photo

1. Winnipeg Police Cause Harm
2. Mutual Aid Society (MAS)
3. Bear Clan Patrol

In response to the deaths of several BIPOC individuals at the hands of the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS), the grassroots organization Winnipeg Police Cause Harm (WPCH) was formed in September 2019.

The organization raises awareness about community-centred alternatives to involving the police in issues surrounding public safety. Organizers believe defunding the WPS and reallocating its resources to other services, such as public housing and community-based crisis teams, would better meet the city’s needs.

The organization is entirely volunteer-run, and the COVID-19 pandemic slowed their efforts slightly. Taking advantage of opportunities to meet virtually, members launched an online-friendly campaign that allowed Winnipeggers to report complaints about the noise the police helicopter made in their area. The campaign was created after accusations that the WPS underreports the number of complaints they receive. Aside from the campaign, WPCH also fundraised to help other local organizations.

“More recently, we were grateful to partner with the BIPOC Families Against Police Violence organizers and get out into the community and share space with folks who are truly affected by police violence,” Nickita Longman, a member of WPCH since the beginning, says in an email to The Uniter. “This kind of shared solidarity and connection is what drives our group forward and is truly what we are striving for.”

The abolitionist group is trying to bring awareness to Winnipeg audiences about how 26.6 per cent of the city’s 2020 operating budget went toward the WPS, which is the highest proportion of spending on police of any major city in Canada.

To connect with the community, WPCH offers resources, information and ways to get involved through their website and social media accounts.

“Everything that we say and do follows a long lineage of struggle by Indigenous and Black feminists, prisoners, survivors and people just doing their best to live their lives in a brutally violent colonial society,” Longman says.

Published in Volume 76, Number 12 of The Uniter (December 2, 2021)

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