Abbotsford Spreads Chicken Manure In City To Rid Itself Of The Homeless – That’s how most people found out about what was going to become the single most memorable event of Bruce Banman’s term as mayor of Abbotsford. He took full responsibility, kept his job and never told anyone who did it.
Cover Photo: Cleaning up after the Chicken Manure Incident. Photo by Bas Stevens
By James Breckenridge. This Stinks.
04/06/13 19:45 pm
The most recent steps on the path to this wickedness began about six days ago when City employees, as part of the city’s ongoing war on the homeless, stopped by a local homeless camp. The city truck, brought along to cart off any belongings the homeless failed to rescue, contained plunder from prior stops at other homeless camps.
A lot has happened since then …
The other local media didn’t cover the story until it had gone around the world, from Abbotsford Today to The Tyee, to the BBC, to CNN to Harper’s Magazine and then described it as the work of some low level City employees. Despite his reliance on the union vote at City Hall to get elected, Councillor Les Barkman has never stood up for the men and women who work for the City and has allowed them to shoulder the blame for a decision which was made higher up in the chain of command.
The resulting cacophony of anger, shame, revulsion and worldwide coverage of what became know as the Abbotsford Chicken Manure Incident has come to define Abbotsford in the eyes of many around the world.
There was even a documentary – The Chicken Manure Incident – made on the event by BC filmmaker Kevin Miller.
Despite an editorial in the Abbotsford News saying the spreading of chicken feces was the work of low -evel authorities at City Hall, emails revealed that high levels officials at the City of Abbotsford across several departments knew of the plan.
Then it was revealed that the Salvation Army, not only knew of the plan but approved of it.
Then it was revealed that Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich sent a series of demeaning, derogatory and insulting emails to his senior officers, who responded in kind by joking about the homeless and the victims of the use of chicken feces.
Since last summer the City, under Bruce Banman’s leadership, has dug its feet in and fought the homeless in court and with its police force and tore down a protest camp in Jubilees Park on Christmas based on a statement to a BC Supreme court justice that Abbotsford has plenty of shelter for drug addicts, alcoholics and those whose suffer from mental illness.
Within days of the City of Abbotsford’s insistence that Abbotsford’s high barrier shelters find room for the residents of the Jubilee protest camp, most of them were back on the street.
The camp moved, almost immediately down to Gladys Avenue, across from the giant new Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) building where they have been ever since.
When City Council was presented with an opportunity in February to accept $15.3 million and 60 years worth of support from BC Housing in order to build a low-barrier shelter, Mayor Banman sided with the minority of council and exercised his vote in order to turn down the offer. The reaction from the community was immediate.
An impromptu protest was set up on the grounds of City Hall which drew several hundred people under the watchful eyes of six uniformed APD officers who kept an eye on Councillors Henry Braun, Patricia Ross, Moe Gill and Dave Loewen who told citizens how upset they were with the decision made by Banman and councillors, Bill MacGregor, Les Barkman and John Smith.
*For some reason, Councillor MacGregor, who voted against the shelter, was at the protest as well.
*In his Oral reasons for Judgment allowing an injunction to forcibly remove the homeless men and women from Jubilee Park, released last week – Abbotsford (City) v Shantz NWS156820 oral RFJ, Mr Justice Williams made in clear, in his ruling allowing the City’s application for an injunction to remove the homeless from Jubilee Park, that the City of Abbotsford had told him there was shelter space available for those in the homeless camp.
Mayor Banman struck a Task Force made up of the same people and organizations (except for the Salvation Army which approved of the now infamous Chicken Manure Incident in June of 2013) which have found it impossible to solve the Abbotsford Homeless Crisis over the last decade
In spite of Justice Williams’ instruction that the City of Abbotsford should address the matter of the availability of low-barrier shelter space for its most marginalized citizens in as real and as meaningful a way as possible, the City has nonetheless asked that the matter not go to trial until spring 2015 after another cold winter for the city’s homeless population.
The Abbotsford Dignitarian Society was formed with $10,000 worth of seed money from the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) and is scheduled to make a presentation before the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness, on June 5th, about its proposal for a Dignity Village style housing project down on Valley Road of the Mission highway.
Last week it was also revealed that the City of Abbotsford is trying its level best to have the court cases, which might see evidence brought to bear which might reveal who is responsible for what some have described as its long standing campaign of cleansing itself of certain kinds of homeless citizens, moved back until the Spring of 2015.
Over the coming days and weeks we will be publishing statements from those who were attacked with chicken feces, assaulted and pepper-sprayed by the Bob Rich’s cops, and forcibly removed by the MCC from their homes along the railway corridor.
Chicken Manure Remembered
There was a short protest held today, by some of the men and women who were the victims of the assault, on Gladys Avenue across from the Happy Tree where Mayor Banman’s people dumped chicken feces on them.
Members of the Abbotsford Chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors (DWS), lined up across the road blocking traffic for short intervals, in order to remind the world what happened last year.
“Our people were poisoned with chicken feces for being poor; for being homeless; for being drug addicts, for suffering from mental illness and for suffering from alcohol dependence,” said an angry and defiant Barry Shantz, founder of the Abbotsford DWS.
Some neighbours came out and threatened the protesters, with one suggesting he would get a baseball bat and deal with the protesters once and for all. A protester in a wheelchair was almost thrown to the ground by a neighbourhood resident.
The protesters let traffic through with minor delays and eventually an Abbotsford Police Car showed up but, other than the attempts to hurt the man the wheelchair and the verbal abuse, none of the protesters suffered any injuries.
“On this day last year they gave me chicken shit. This year they gave me chicken cordon bleu*.” – Shredder
(*The Sally Ann served Chicken Cordon Bleu for lunch today)
Bas is the owner and photographer at MonoPod Photography.
You can follow Bas on Facebook where he publishes many of his photos.
To see more of Bas’ photos on Abbotsford Today click here
To see Bas’ photos of the homeless during Moving Day On Gladys Avenue click here
Bas Stevens lives in downtown Abbotsford and shares the neighbourhood just as readily with his neighbours with homes as he does with the homeless, the drug addicted and others who are down on their luck.
Bas has a home and is known to most in the power structure in Abbotsford as a man who calls things as he sees them and is very involved in his community and the political process which guides it.
You can find him most Wednesday nights over at Jubilee Park during The 5 and 2 Ministries meal for the homeless. Failing that, you catch him either at Legal Grounds Coffee House chewing the ear off of a politician or giving as good as he gets over at O’Neill’s Home Cooking over on Gosling.
You stand a good chance of finding him Saturday mornings over at the Abbotsford Farm and Country Market and Saturday evenings back over at Jubilee Park.
Wherever he is Bas usually has his eyes and ears wide open. We’re proud to have him as a contributor and urge you to get to know him if you give a damn about Abbotsford. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who cares more than he does.