CRAB Park tent city protesters joined by Black Lives Matter, viaducts still closed
VANCOUVER -- People who have been living in tents on Port of Vancouver land near CRAB Park rallied Saturday as a court injunction to remove the camp looms.
They've been joined by some Black Lives Matter protesters, although a protest that started Saturday morning to block the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts continues, with the viaducts still closed.
Encampment residents and supporters are rallying in the park as a court injunction obtained by the port comes into effect.
However, police have told camp leaders officers may not move in until Sunday evening or Monday morning, according to Chrissy Brett, a supporter of the encampment.
The Vancouver police refused to comment on when they would move to enforce the injunction to remove the encampment.
"We’re expecting everyone to comply with the court-ordered injunction and are working to assess next steps," media liaison officer Aaron Roed said in a statement.
"Our primary purpose is to protect the safety of the people living in the encampment, the public and the police."
Douglas Ehret has been a CRAB Park resident for about three weeks, telling CTV News he used to camp on Main Street.
“Somebody said go to CRAB Park where you can at least be safe,” he said. “I came down here and put up my tent and I’ve been welcomed ever since.”
Knowing he may have to move on soon, Ehret says he hopes people will have compassion for those who are homeless.
“We’re not the boogey man or things that go bump in the night, all these people are beautiful people, every one of them,” he said. “And I just wish everyone would see that we’re only human.”
“Anybody can become homeless. Homeless doesn’t pick people, homeless can be for anybody, most of us I think are one paycheque away from being homeless.”
Brett said some residents have already moved out of the camp, but 97 tents and around 150 residents remain.
Brett linked the Saturday rally against the injunction to current worldwide protests against racism and police brutality, saying the police have created a "stigma" about homeless encampments. She said that around 70 per cent of the people living in the CRAB Park encampment are Indigenous.
"We're just continually trying to push for Vancouver PD to continue to come to the table and talk about how people are going to be able to have the right to protest and the right to exist," she said.
Tent city supporters released a statement Saturday afternoon calling for the port to return the land the tent city is occupying to the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations; 10,000 units of permanent housing rented at the welfare or pension rate and controlled by residents; and for the City of Vancouver, Park Board, and Port of Vancouver "honour their commitment to work with Indigenous communities to establish a healing centre at CRAB Park.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Port of Vancouver said: "We acknowledge and understand that there are complex social and public health issues involved with the tent encampment, and continue to work closely with both provincial and municipal authorities to coordinate next steps and ensure any and all actions are taken peacefully and respectfully."
In May, the B.C. government and City of Vancouver cleared a two-year-old tent city from Oppenheimer Park, housing many of the residents temporarily in vacant hotel rooms. The CRAB Park tent city formed after the Oppenheimer Park encampment was dismantled.
Black Lives Matter protest continues
Around 50 protesters holding “Black Lives Matter” and “Defund Police” signs blocked traffic on the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts Saturday.
The protesters used pallets to block vehicles from accessing the viaduct in both directions. Police were at the scene of the protest and were controlling traffic. Vancouver Police Department spokesman Aaron Roed said the protest has blocked the eastbound and westbound entrances to the viaducts.
“Our primary purpose is to protect the safety of the protestors, the public and the police,” Roed said. “We respect peaceful protests and during public demonstrations, police response is proportionate to the activities observed.”
The protesters declined to speak to CTV News Vancouver.