Founder of the Abbotsford Chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors (DWS) Barry Shantz told CBC Morning Show host Rick Cluff Tuesday morning his organization does not intend to comply with the request from Mayor Banman that they remove all of their tents and belongings from Jubilee Park by Wednesday.
Yesterday Banman announced the City wanted the homeless men and women in the park to remove their tents, sleeping bags, heaters and belongings out of concern for their safety due to the cold weather.
Banman said the City has no problem with the peaceful protest but is concerned about the health and safety of the people involved. The City admitted last week they have had surprising few complaints about the protest. People who visit the park regularly have written about how clean and peaceful the Dignity Village style camp is and that the protest site is cleaner than the rest of the park which City workers are paid to maintain.
The DWS is protesting the treatment of its members at the hands of City staff and the Abbotsford Police Department (APD). The DWS, along with the Pivot Legal Society is involved in almost a dozen lawsuits with the City of Abbotsford over the civil rights abuses it says its members have endured because of the City of Abbotsford’s Anti-Harm Reduction bylaw, the City’s policy of using chicken feces to rid itself of homeless people and the APD’s stated policy of dispersing and displacing homeless people from the shelter they find.
Abbotsford’s peculiar way of dealing with the poor received world wide attention last June when on June 4th, 2013, the City of Abbotsford, with the prior approval of the Salvation Army, dumped chicken feces on an encampment of homeless men and women who had taken refuge across the street from the Salvation Army on Gladys Avenue.
After effectively chasing them from ‘The Happy Tree’ refuge, the homeless were then chased back again by City officials eight weeks later. They have since taken up residence in Jubilee Park in order to draw attention to their cause and so that they can sleep in relative security by staying in the public eye where actions of City workers and police can be witnessed.
Mayor Banman says if the protesters haven’t removed their tents and belongings by Wednesday the City will seek an injunction to force them out.