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Advocate arrested at Vancouver encampment says he was protecting resident’s belongings

Police officers arrested a homeless advocate in Vancouver's Oppenheimer Park. (X/@BurrowsAmanda) Police officers arrested a homeless advocate in Vancouver's Oppenheimer Park. (X/@BurrowsAmanda)

A homeless advocate who was carried out of Vancouver's Oppenheimer Park in handcuffs Monday said he was arrested for trying to protect an encampment resident's belongings.

A spokesperson for the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation confirmed rangers returned to Oppenheimer on Monday morning – while temperatures were below zero – to resume bylaw enforcement against homeless campers.

The park rangers were flanked by at least half a dozen police officers, who arrested Ryan Sudds of Stop the Sweeps at the scene.

In a video posted on social media, Sudds said he was apprehended for holding onto a bin that belongs to a man living in the park.

"He didn't want it moved right now. There was no reason to move his belongings," said Sudds, who was on the ground in handcuffs in the recording.

Stop the Sweeps, which has been calling for a winter moratorium on Vancouver's daily evictions of homeless campers, said rangers forced Oppenheimer residents to take down "at least" six tents on Monday, which they then moved to another area of the park.

Authorities paused their regular enforcement of city bylaws in Oppenheimer late last week amid dangerously cold conditions – including wind chill values of -20 C – that had prompted frostbite and hypothermia warnings from Environment and Climate Change Canada.

In a social media post, Stop the Sweeps described that pause as an "acknowledgment that this enforcement is cruel."

It's unclear why authorities forced the takedown of tents again on Monday, when temperatures in the city were still reaching -3 C.

In an email, a Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation spokesperson said rangers also performed "wake-ups and wellness checks," and that they "shared information on warming centres and encouraged people to move inside."

Warming centres are activated during bouts of extreme weather to provide homeless people basic refuge from the freezing conditions outside, but none of the ones listed on the City of Vancouver website on Monday is open throughout the day. The centres generally open after dark and provide overnight accomodations.

Last week, two service providers in the city's Downtown Eastside published an open letter calling on officials to "rapidly fund" more 24-hour warming centres

The Vancouver Police Department has not responded to a request for comment on Monday's incident in Oppenheimer, but wrote on social media that officers were "forced to arrest a man in his 30s who attempted to interfere and obstruct" the work of park rangers on Monday.

Police said they were preparing a report to Crown counsel on the incident, suggesting Sudds could face charges.

Prior to last week's pause, authorities had been visiting encampments in Oppenheimer Park and CRAB Park on a routine basis – often daily – for months, enforcing a bylaw that requires most homeless people to take down their tents during the day, regardless of the weather.

"What's been happening here is awful. Change the bylaw," Sudds said while under arrest Tuesday. "This is inhumane." Top Stories

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