Edmonton protest camp con­tin­ues to grow a week af­ter it be­gan

Cape Breton Post - - CANADA - LAU­REN BOOTHBY

EDMONTON — A camp near the ReMax Field de­mand­ing more sup­port for home­less peo­ple and de­cry­ing po­lice vi­o­lence has grown more than 17 times in size since it be­gan just over a week ago.

Around 10 peo­ple camped overnight on July 24, the day Peki­wewin camp is­sued a list of de­mands, ask­ing city coun­cil to di­vest $39 mil­lion from law en­force­ment and scrap by­laws tar­get­ing home­less peo­ple.

By Sun­day af­ter­noon, more than 170 tents were seen in the park. On­site, there were six out­houses, picnic ta­bles, and tents supplying food and water, toi­letries, harm-re­duc­tion sup­plies, and vol­un­teers with first-aid and de-es­ca­la­tion train­ing.

Vic­to­ria Guz­man, an or­ga­nizer who uses they and them pro­nouns, said the camp of­fers a safe place for home­less peo­ple to rest dur­ing the day and to sleep at night with­out fear­ing be­ing forcibly re­moved by po­lice. The city and po­lice have, for now, de­cided not to dis­man­tle the camp, a city spokesper­son said Sun­day.

Be­ing made to move, Guz­man said, makes it dif­fi­cult for those on wait­lists for per­ma­nent hous­ing to stay in touch with case­work­ers.

“A woman came here with pepper spray in her eyes … the cops had maced her, had bro­ken her tent. Peo­ple (have had) their tents slashed up,” they said.

“Also, re­in­forc­ing and cre­at­ing this idea that tents are peo­ples’ per­sonal homes, it’s their per­sonal prop­erty. Their homes also de­serve to be treated with re­spect and dig­nity.”

The camp was also made in re­sponse to the city shut­ter­ing the tem­po­rary 180-bed shel­ter at the Kins­men Sport Cen­tre last month, and the clo­sure of the Expo Cen­tre day drop-in space, which sup­ported more than 700 peo­ple, on Fri­day.

Its de­mands in­clude end­ing po­lice vi­o­lence against racial­ized peo­ple, end­ing the de­struc­tion of their prop­erty and forcible re­moval of en­camp­ments, cre­at­ing an emer­gency re­sponse fund for front­line work­ers and home­less com­mu­ni­ties, mak­ing tran­sit free, and scrap­ping by­laws that tar­get home­less peo­ple, in­clud­ing tres­pass­ing and loi­ter­ing fines.

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