South Asians in Metro Vancouver fear racist backlash after police release image of 11 men deemed to pose public safety risk

  • South Asian community members in Metro Vancouver expressed their concern after British Columbia police released a composite picture of 11 men who are believed to be connected to high levels of organized crime-related violence and gang violence.
  • The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia (CFSEU-BC) released the pictures of the men, most of whom are of South Asian descent, on Aug. 3.
  • “It is highly likely a rival gangster will target them with violence," CFSEU Asst. Cmdr. Manny Mann said. “We want British Columbians to know their faces.”
  • “I want to make it clear that today's announcement is not about naming and shaming. Identifying these men is in the interest of public safety,” Vancouver Deputy Chief Fiona Wilson said during a news conference.
  • Tamara Humphrey, assistant professor of sociology specializing in criminology at the University of Victoria, believes that disclosing information about individuals who allegedly pose a public safety risk can create more problems than solutions.
  • "We can see an increase in harassment or aggression toward communities of color as a result of these widespread notifications," she continued, noting that just because certain individuals are deemed a potential public safety risk does not necessarily mean they have been charged with crimes in the past. 

The South Asian community in Metro Vancouver expressed concerns over potential racist backlash after authorities released a picture of 11 men who allegedly pose a public safety risk due to gang affiliations.

On Aug. 3, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia (CFSEU-BC) released a composite image of 11 men connected to high levels of organized crime-related violence and gang violence, according to the authorities.

It is highly likely a rival gangster will target them with violence,” CFSEU Asst. Cmdr. Manny Mann said. “We want British Columbians to know their faces.”

Police believe “anyone with, or in the proximity to these individuals, may be putting themselves at risk,” the CFSEU-BC said in a statement on Aug. 3. They have reportedly identified the men, most of whom are of South Asian descent, and issued a public warning “in order for family, friends, associates, and the public to take measures to increase their own personal safety.”

I want to make it clear that today’s announcement is not about naming and shaming. Identifying these men is in the interest of public safety,” Vancouver Deputy Chief Fiona Wilson said during a news conference, adding that Meninder Dhaliwal, the brother of two men included in the composite image, was killed outside a Whistler hotel last month.

Since most of the men in the picture are South Asian, some community members have expressed fear that the image could potentially lead to racial stereotyping and harassment.

It’s important to remember that the gang members on that list represent a very small portion of the overall South Asian population,” Manpreet Sarai, a case manager for the South Asian Community Resource Office program at Archway Community Services in Abbotsford, Canada, told CBC.

Tamara Humphrey, assistant professor of sociology specializing in criminology at the University of Victoria, believes that disclosing information about individuals who allegedly pose a public safety risk can create more problems than solutions.

We’re not really seeing that they’re impacting public safety in any meaningful way at all,” Humphrey told CBC, adding that releasing certain details can “instill panic in the general public.”

“We can see an increase in harassment or aggression toward communities of color as a result of these widespread notifications,” she continued, noting that the individuals in the disseminated photo may not have been charged with any crimes.

 

Featured Image via Tony Hisgett (CC BY 2.0)

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