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August 4, 2009

BRU statement and call to action against racist attacks and violence against women


The Vancouver Bus Riders Union condemns the racist violence recently perpetrated against Qasim Baig, a Muslim man and long-time BRU member.

The violence was carried out on July 29th, 2009 on a bus running westbound on Kingsway.   Mr. Baig was attacked by a white man who repeatedly shouted “Bin Laden” at Mr. Baig before punching him in the head. The bus driver immediately stopped the bus and called emergency personnel to the scene.  By the time police arrived, the perpetrator had fled.

Mr. Baig is 59 years old and suffers from heart trouble, diabetes, and a lung condition.   He has lived in Canada since 1987.

The bus driver is to be commended for his quick and compassionate response.  But this and other violent attacks on public transit in recent weeks should serve as a wake up call to TransLink and the Greater Vancouver Transit Police Force (GVTAPS).   The priority for all transit police must be public safety, not fare enforcement. 

Unfortunately, transit police, with their unaccountable board and seventeen million dollar annual budget, have made their priorities clear.  Enforcing fare payment and issuing $176 tickets to low-income transit users has been the dominant preoccupation of the force since its launch in 2006.  

The recent attack on Mr. Baig, along with the July 28th incident of a thirteen year old girl forced off a bus and sexually assaulted, requires a re-thinking of priorities for both TransLink and the Transit police.

Transit is a public service that should be safe and accessible for all, regardless of race, gender, age or religious affiliation.  The real bottom line is people, not profit. 

The Bus Riders Union will be holding a speak-out on Wednesday, August 5th at 7:30pm at the bus stop where the racist attack took place (1500 Block Kingsway – north side of the street). 

Join us and other organizations to take a stand against racist attacks and violence against women!  Call on TransLink to put people first, not profit!

Please call 604-215-2775 or 604-255-4745 (cell), or email [email protected] for more information.