On Wedneday morning, June 5, 2013, Abbotsford Today reported the Abbotsford Chicken Manure Homeless Incident whereby it was revealed that the City of Abbotsford, after meeting with the Salvation Army, had spread chicken feces on the property across from the Salvation Army on which homeless people, whom the Salvation Army refused to help, had gathered.
We sent the story to a number of other media outlets, including the Abbotsford News and the Abbotsford Times.
By 14:45 on June 5, Abbotsford City Manager George Murray had responded to our questions to City Council by issuing a press release taking full responsibility for the incident.
We forwarded his response to the News and the Times as well.
On Thursday, June 9, Today columnist James Breckenridge, who broke the story, was interviewed on the Alex Tsakumis radio show on CKPM FM.
Also on Thursday, June 9, 2013 the story was being picked up provincially and nationally and over the next few days it was published around the world.
On Tuesday, June 11, 2013, Abbotsford Today reported that the Salvation Army had threatened to boycott a special meeting of the Abbotsford Social Development and Advisory Committee (ASDAC) which had been arranged to deal with the issue if the meeting was videotaped.
At that meeting, on June 12, Jesse Wegenast and Ward Draper, of The 5 and 2 Ministries, told ASDAC the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) slashed the makeshift tents of the homeless and used bear spray to poison their belongings.
The APD has launched an investigation into the statements.
Others, like activist for the homeless James Breckenridge, have long argued the practice of chasing the homeless around from spot to spot every night has been going on for years in Abbotsford.
Also on June 12 the Abbotsford News published an editorial column saying,
“We are led to believe this was the work of a handful of lower level authorities in city hall who thought they were taking affirmative action on a long-standing problem.”
We challenged them on that statement at the time and asked them to tell their readers and the people of Abbotsford who it was who had told them the incident was isolated to a handful of low level employees.
On June 25 the Abbotsford Times revealed that a large number of senior staff, including former Economic Development Manager Jay Teichroeb, who was responsible for the bylaw department, had either had their positions eliminated or had left the City of Abbotsford.
Teichroeb’s job is currently being advertised in the Vancouver Sun. He has left the City of Abbotsford but not because his position was eliminated.
The Abbotsford News has yet to tell the community who it was who had led them to believe that nobody important was involved. With public testimony public that this sort of thing has been going on for years, an police investigation into the conduct the APD and the removal of key senior staff from their jobs at City Hall it is looking more and more like this incident and this behaviour were not only approved at the highest levels but form part of a longstanding pattern of behaviour tantamount to a policy of abuse towards the poor and the homeless.
For the News to make such an astounding statement, without attribution, it is high time they remedied the situation. They owe the community an explanation of just what it was they meant and who it was that told them the whole thing was the fault of low level City workers.
City workers in Abbotsford have experienced this kind of blame game before and, we’ve been led to believe, they’re getting sick and tired of being used as scapegoats for managements’ mistakes.
So how about it Abbotsford News … who told you the Abbotsford Chicken Manure Homeless Incident was the fault of City workers?
Do you still believe it to be true?
If you stand by your accusation, will you at least tell the community why?