The seemingly insoluble crisis of homelessness is frustrating, but when frustration builds to anger, no one wins.
The lawlessness, both real and threatened, at Nanaimo’s Rutherford Elementary School on the weekend must not be repeated.
On Friday, 26 protesters connected to Nanaimo’s DisconTent City occupied the school, which had been closed in June. RCMP cordoned off the school, and soon were dealing not only with the protesters inside but with a crowd of 400 angry residents.
The occupation lasted only until 2 p.m. Saturday, when police arrested the last of the protesters. During the brief occupation, the protesters put holes in the roof, sprayed graffiti on the walls, broke windows and pulled doors off their hinges.
Meanwhile, the police acted quickly to end the protest because they were concerned that the crowd outside might resort to vigilante action.
It’s easy to see why anger builds on both sides. Homeless people are tired of being pushed into corners and labelled criminals while only direct action seems to spur the government to offer help. Residents are angry that they aren’t consulted when the government does decide to do something, and they fear what the homeless bring into their neighbourhoods.
But anger, no matter how understandable, simply makes it harder to find solutions.