Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pivot Legal Society Picks on Private Security, While Ignoring Abusive Publicly-Funded Security at Carnegie Center

Activist lawyer David Eby is leaving Pivot Legal Society to become acting Executive Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association for the next 6 months. He has been invited to apply for the permanent job as Executive Director.

Eby was spokesperson for Pivot at a time when they abandoned Downtown Eastside residents who were being denied their right to a democratic election process and free speech. Downtown Eastside residents were allowed to vote in Board elections at Carnegie Center but City staff took the position that if they didn't like who they voted for, they would just ban the elected official from Carnegie so that they couldn't attend Board meetings. It's old news now that homeless William Simpson was banned two weeks after he was elected to the Carnegie Board of Directors -- but that was over a year ago and Carnegie Security guards remain under orders not to allow him into the building.

Simpson went to Pivot about Carnegie stripping him and low income voters of basic rights most people have come to expect in a democracy. Simpson says the woman he spoke to at Pivot wouldn't take a case against Carnegie, telling him, "But they're our friends."

That's the problem with Pivot. They don't give a flyin' f*ck about your civil liberties if it happens to be their friends violating them.

Take the complaints Pivot lodged with BC Human Rights over private security guards abusing low income people in public spaces. Note the word "private". Pivot doesn't help residents of the Downtown Eastside fight back against the publicly funded security guards at Carnegie Center working under Security Co-ordinator Skip Everall, even though they are violating human rights and/or act illegally on a regular basis. That's because they are CUPE members. Pay your CUPE dues and it's almost like protectionist money. Pivot will leave you alone.

The Human Rights complaint lodged by Pivot is to a large extent about getting rid of private security guards -- specifically the downtown Ambassadors program -- that are infringing on union territory. Private security guards don't pay union dues.

If the ambassadors that walk the streets in the business district were unionized workers like the Carnegie street workers on the Downtown Eastside (who have been caught working with the VPD to harass a Downtown Eastside resident engaging in freedom of expression), they would get no flak from Pivot.

Until Eby shows some interest in the civil liberties of everybody, not only those who are at the end of the boot of a non-union security person, he shouldn't be picked as Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association.