Camp near ReMax Field grows to more than 170 tents, demands action on homeless shelter closures and police violence

Article content

A camp near ReMax Field calling for more homeless support and deciphering police violence has grown more than 17 times since it began just over a week ago.

Around 10 people camped overnight on July 24, the day the Pekiwewin camp issued a list of demands, urging the city council to sever $ 39 million from law enforcement and junk regulations for the homeless. More than 170 tents were seen in the park by Sunday afternoon. On site there were six outbuildings, picnic tables, and tents that provided food and water, toiletries, mitigation tools, and volunteers with first aid and de-escalation training.

Victoria Guzman, an organizer who uses her and her pronouns, said the camp provides a safe place for homeless people to rest during the day and sleep at night without fear of being forcibly removed by police. The city and the police have decided not to dismantle the camp for the time being, a city spokesman said on Sunday.

Guzman said those on waiting lists for permanent housing find it difficult to keep in touch with social workers when they need to move.

“A woman came here with pepper spray in her eyes… the cops macedated her, broke her tent. The people (had) slashed their tents, ”they said.

“Affirming and realizing this idea that tents are people’s personal homes is their personal property. Their homes also deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. “

Camp Pekiwewin continues to grow in a parking lot west of Remax Field in Edmonton on Sunday, August 2, 2020.  The camp-out in the river valley was organized to stand up for the homeless Edmontonians.  Photo by David BloomCamp Pekiwewin continues to grow in a parking lot west of ReMax Field in Edmonton on Sunday, August 2, 2020. The camp-out in the river valley was organized to stand up for the homeless Edmontonians. David Bloom / Postmedia Photo by David Bloom David Bloom /.David Bloom / Postmedia

The camp was also set up in response to the city closing the makeshift 180-bed shelter at the Kinsmen Sport Center last month and closing the Expo Center’s daytime drop-in area on Friday, which houses more than 700 people were housed.

His demands include an end to police violence against racialized people, an end to the destruction of their property and the forcible removal of camps, the establishment of an emergency fund for frontline workers and homeless communities, exemption from transit and the abolition of statutes against the homeless, including trespassing and loitering Fines.