Londoners rally behind homeless man arrested Friday

Londoners are raising funds for a man who had his belongings taken away from him Friday following a brief arrest.
Sunny James has taken up residence on the north sidewalk on Huron Street at Vesta Road in front of the Salvation Army. Some neighbours say he's blocking the sidewalk. (Colin Butler/CBC news)

Londoners are raising funds for a homeless man who had his belongings taken away from him Friday following a brief arrest.

Bylaw enforcement officers responded to complaints of a man obstructing pedestrian traffic in the area just west of Huron Street and Highbury Avenue Friday evening.

The man has three overflowing shopping carts that often spill out onto sidewalks. 

London police were called and briefly arrested a man after an alleged interference with the investigation.

Police confirmed to CBC its involvement with James Sunningdale – also known as Sunny James --- who residents say is a fixture in the city's north end.

 Michelle Wilson shared the interaction through a social media post that received about 5,000 shares.

She then started a campaign that raised more than $1,000 within a few days to ensure the man received shelter.

"London has really proven to want to help him," she said. "We can invite him into our hearts and do what Londoners do as a sanctuary city. We can prove that we can take care of our own and protect the most vulnerable members of our community."

She said James would regularly stay in the north end area with his three carts filled with belongings. She said she saw his carts get taken away on a wagon Friday.

"Everybody in that area certainly knows who Sunny is," she said.

Wilson said that James is no longer in the north end neighbourhood following last week's incident. However, she added, he is in a safe public space.

A London man who became a fixture in the city's north end had his belongings confiscated Friday, following a brief arrest. (Submitted by Michelle Wilson)

Money raised for camp site

The money is to be used to rent out a serviced campsite for James at the Fanshawe Conservation area from now until the end of the season in October.

The $1400 price tag would cover shelter costs. Any additional money raised would go to James.

"It gives him lots of time to make a plan for the winter months and where he is safe and happy in the interim," said Wilson.

Jennifer Howley is the manager of conservation areas with the Upper Thames River Conversation Authority.

She said anyone is allowed on the campgrounds as long as rules and regulations are respected.

"The UTRCA is a fee-based public service and if Sunny were to camp at Fanshawe he would be welcomed and treated no differently than any of our other campers."