Nanaimo tent cities protest attracts hundreds, for and against

NANAIMO – Tensions flew over a homeless camp Sunday when two sets of protesters sold insults on both sides of a street in the city center.

Those who want to dismantle DisconTent City shouted at supporters to set up homeless people in their backyards and supporters chanted "Houses, no hatred" in unison.

About 400 opponents overshadowed a slightly smaller number of supporters, following a threat on social media by Soldiers or Odin, an international anti-immigration group, to split the camp on 1 Port Place.

Some opponents said that the removal of the camp should have taken place already. Soldiers of Odin had said that it would happen at 1 o'clock. on Sunday.

As the hour drew nearer, the opponents were on the side of the shopping mall in Port Place on the Esplanade, shouting people sporadically against the camp residents, while volunteers worked to reinforce the camping fence with old furniture and turned a pick-up truck sideways.

Nanaimo RCMP has diverted traffic and built a line of police vehicles and officers in the center of Esplanade, forming a physical barrier between both sides.

Camp sympathizers were found to answer a public call for help issued by camp organizers.

"It makes me angry when people come here to make trouble," said Keith Addison, a forest worker and resident of Nanaimo.

Addison said that shredding the camp would only serve to distribute homeless people in the community, from a camp that he described as "reasonably clean and organized and self-contained."

"I support Tent City because of the B.C. housing crisis," said Byron Dunbar. "We need more affordable rental housing."

By nine o'clock, campespeople had stiff-standing real estate on the opposite, shop side of the street.

Much of the conversation between opponents was about doing nothing to the government to remove the camp.

"I think it starts at the top – the city of Nanaimo should have shut it down when it started," said Mike, who, along with his wife Jackie, refused to mention their last name in which she mentioned safety concerns.

We live in the city and we only have people in the street pulled off their pants and went to the bathroom, & # 39; said Jackie. "We are just fed up."

Mike was one of the first to scream catcalls across the street to camp supporters.

Others expressed aversion to the impact of the camp on the inner city.

"Would you like to come on a cruise ship and see this?" Said Diane, who refused to give her last name.

She said a B.C. Ferries employee told her that many of the camp supporters came from Vancouver and asked for directions to the camp.

Seeing that Nanaimo City Council member distributed Gord Fuller cookies to the crowd, confused Bonnie Stolz Fuller with a series of graphic, profane insults.

She said that Fuller deserved it during a protestrally two weeks ago, where he distributed flowers.

"I told him that Tent City had to go, and Stolz said that Fuller had sworn to her.

"He pointed right in my face and screamed," said Stolz.

Fuller maintains that he does not take sides in the dispute.

"I'm not on one side, I'm on the side of the city of Nanaimo," Fuller said. "I came here to hopefully calm down the situation."

At 13.00 hours closer, camp residents wondered whether the Soldiers of Odin would respond to their threat, and if so, how.

"Maybe it means driving a truck and running over people," said Ivan Drury, who is from Vancouver and is a camp organizer. "They have already threatened to use violence, but Facebook took (the mail) down for incitement to hatred."

At 13.00 hours passed without any direct action against the camp, some wondered what the Soldiers of Odin planned next.

"They do not show up today and who knows what can happen at night," said Chris Reynes, a camp supporter.

© Copyright Times Colonist

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