Leave Roy Alone

By August 6, 2014Hot Topic, Mike Archer

Don’t You Dare Keep ‘Working With’ Roy
By Mike Archer. Whoever wrote the line, “Roberts, who was not seriously injured, was taken to hospital for treatment and a mental-health assessment,” in the Abbotsford News‘ account of the shooting of Roy Roberts has obviously never been repeatedly hit by rubber bullets fired at close range. I suppose it depends on how serious the average person would consider the offence if it happened to them or how accustomed you are to sudden, repeated excruciating pain.

However much anyone wants to downplay the shooting of Roy Roberts, one thing is now crystal clear. The Abbotsford Police Department (APD) mercilessly shot a man whom they repeatedly called by the name ‘John’ despite knowing exactly who he was, whom they knew to suffer from mental illness, and who was, no matter what the APD was told by the Food Bank prior to their arrival, not presenting a threat to either himself or others.

Anyone who watches the video can see the APD officers, cowering behind someone’s car, repeatedly ignoring all of the signs confirming that whatever impression they were given over the phone, it is not the situation on the ground.

This was abusive treatment of a mentally challenged, homeless man by a police force which has, among other repulsive actions, abused a paraplegic man, stolen from homeless people, damaged property and used pepper spray to make the tents of homeless people unlivable, and persisted in enforcing a ‘Displace and Disperse’ policy of harassing homeless men and women for years.

Prior to Roberts’ shooting at the Food Bank, the police and staff from Abbotsford Community Services (ACS), despite repeated warnings to stop, spent weeks provoking him, harassing him and trying to get him to move from his little spot at the end of a dead end road across the parking lot from ACS – a spot where he was bothering nobody.

Abbotsford DWS founder Barry Shantz

Abbotsford DWS founder Barry Shantz

Roberts is the most evicted man in Abbotsford as the APD seems incapable of just letting Roy be. He has lived here for years; is well-known to everyone who knows or works with the homeless and did not deserve to be gunned down in broad daylight because of the misplaced fears of a Food Bank employee or the unprofessional and abusive acts of the APD.

“We told them over and over to stop harassing Roy. We told them he was becoming more and more agitated as a result of their constant nagging and pressuring and we told them to leave him alone,” says Barry Shantz, founder of the Abbotsford Chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors (DWS).

Not only was Roberts arrested and sent away for mental evaluation, while he was gone the City of Abbotsford took his belongings to the dump.

Here is Const. Ian MacDonald telling the News why they shot an innocent man and that they clearly intend to keep bothering him.

APD Constable Ian MacDonald

APD Constable Ian MacDonald

MacDonald said police had two main priorities – ensuring that Roberts was not a danger to himself and that the public was protected from potential harm.

MacDonald said the Abbotsford Police Department’s mental health liaison officer has continued to work with other community partners to ensure that Roberts’ needs are addressed in the community, including ongoing offers of housing.

“We’re continuing to work (with) and we’re continuing to create options for Roy,” he said.

He did not break any laws. He is not a criminal. The APD has absolutely no reason to ‘keep working with him.’ Your work here is done APD. Leave him alone.

You are not a care giving social service agency no matter what Councillor John Smith says.

One of the biggest mistakes this city ever made was to listen to John Smith when he instructed police chief Bob Rich to deal with the homeless. By exceeding his jurisdiction in such a flagrant and outrageous fashion Smith effectively criminalized homelessness in Abbotsford and Bob Rich has been following orders he should never have been given nor accepted.

Armed police should be kept as far away from Abbotsford’s defenceless homeless people as possible. The APD has proved it is unfit to have anything to do with Abbotsford’s homeless. Charges of abuse of authority, false arrest and excessive force should be leveled against the APD for their unforgivable treatment of a defenceless marginalized man.

Don’t work any more with our homeless people APD. The community doesn’t trust you to do so anymore. Without serious retraining from the chief’s office down to the beat cop the APD should be instructed to stand down and keep away from Abbotsford marginalized people.

And whatever you do …

… Leave Roy Alone


Let’s Look At The Record

The Abbotsford Police Department, under Rich’s leadership has had more than it’s share of bad publicity and has had a hard time shaking a reputation for being unable to understand that people who are disabled, suffer from mental illness, are drug or alcohol dependent or simply poor and homeless, deserve, at the very least, the same kind of treatment any other citizen of the community is entitled to under the law.

Let’s look at the part of the record we know about:

    • Judge calls Abbotsford police ‘a place time forgot’, CBC News, December 5, 2013
    • Abbotsford police take steps to reclaim respect, Vancouver Sun, Dec 6, 2013
    • Denying a paraplegic his wheelchair, his medication or the ability to go to the bathroom
    • Using pepper spray on the tents of homeless people
    • Destroying property belonging to homeless people
    • Using a ‘displace and disperse’ policy to deal with the homeless and the addicted
    • Charges being thrown out of court due to improperly collected evidence
    • Accusations of professional misconduct
    • Demeaning and derogatory emails discussing the homeless and the June 4, 2013 Abbotsford Chicken Manure incident
    • Video Shows Roy Roberts Screaming ‘What Did I Do’ As APD Shoot Him Repeatedly

Here are a few of the words from Justice Kathleen Ker of the BC Supreme Court about Bob Rich’s APD:

  • “The Abbotsford Police Department is a place time forgot”
  • The APD showed “blatant disregard for human dignity”
  • The APD’s arrest and detention of Ryan Moonie was “abhorrent and humiliating”

“This should never have happened in a developed democracy like Canada,” Justice Ker said of the Ryan Moonie case. Wait until a judge hears the testimony in the court cases against the City and its police force later this year*.

*The City of Abbotsford is trying desperately to have those court cases moved back until 2015 in order, presumably, to allow for an election where incumbents don’t have to explain themselves on these issues and/or allow enough time for the City to appear to be ‘doing something’ about the homeless crisis.

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