Homeless people and protesters are refusing to leave Jubilee Park as they launch a human rights complaint against the City of Abbotsford, after chicken manure was spread on another homeless camp earlier this year.
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On Monday, Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman told campers in the city's Jubilee Park they had 48 hours to leave, citing nightly ceremonial fires and possible drug overdoses as safety risks.
However, the 4 p.m. Wednesday deadline has passed and the campers, some of whom have been in the park for 37 days, remain, hoping to bring attention to the way drug-addicted and homeless people have been treated in Abbotsford.
The B.C./Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors, the group behind the Jubilee Park camp, and six homeless individuals announced Tuesday that they plan to sue the city and the Abbotsford Police Department.
In a news release issued Wednesday, Pivot Legal Society’s DJ Larkin, who is representing the group, cited previous incidents in which Abbotsford officials smeared chicken manure on a homeless camp, and in which police allegedly slashed and bear-sprayed tents and property.
Larkin said the complaint focuses on a number of incidents and actions that appear to discriminate against homeless individuals. The complaint alleges that, beyond the camp-related events, "the homeless in Abbotsford have been treated as outsiders and subjected to treatment designed to push them out of the community over a sustained period of time."
"Everyone in Abbotsford, regardless of their housing situation, has the right to security, to access public space, and to be treated in a non-discriminatory manner," Larkin said. "We are helping this group of people defend their rights because police and municipal officials cannot use harassment to drive marginalized people out of their city."
Abbotsford officials have said they are considering replacing the 16 tents set up in the park with permanent structures and are heading to Portland, Ore., to see how that city's 'dignity camp' works.