'It was so sad': London man briefly arrested, belongings taken

A London man who has become a fixture in the city's north end had his belongings confiscated Friday following a brief arrest.
Known as Sunny James, centre, the man has become a fixture in London's north end. (Submitted by Michelle Wilson)

A London man who has become a fixture in the city's north end had his belongings confiscated on Friday following a brief arrest.

City bylaw officers responded to complaints of a man obstructing the area of Huron Street and Highbury Avenue. London police were called to the area after a man interfered with the investigation.

He was briefly taken into police custody and released unconditionally.

"It was so sad," said Michelle Wilson, an area resident who drove to the area after her friend alerted her to the incident.

"His belongings being thrown like they were garbage bothered me the most."

A witness said that police took all of Sunny James's belongings during his brief detention. (Submitted by Michelle Wilson)

Although London police did not initially release the name of the man, Wilson identified him as Sunny James.

She said he often walks the streets with his three carts and she regularly offers him a meal.

"Everybody in north London knows him. Everyone knows the one with three carts," she said. "You see him, you give him a wave."

Wilson shared her frustrations on social media through a Facebook post that has received more than 3,300 shares.

Sunny James carries what seems like the contents of a home on a train of three shopping carts and a children's wagon strung together with rope. His collection of odds and ends includes furniture, such as tables and chairs. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

Police Const. Melissa Duncan says officers work closely with the city when dealing with community issues.

"Assisting bylaw yesterday as they had involvement with James Sunningdale," she said of the man known as Sunny James. "Members of the core unit work closely alongside members of the bylaw in order to deal with chronic issues within the community."

London police said in in a statement Saturday that the investigation is being handled by city bylaw and any further questions can be directed to the city.

The man's possessions are being kept by the city's bylaw office. It is uncertain what will happen to them. 

The CBC has contacted the city's chief law enforcement officer who was unavailable for comment. 

Wilson started a campaign to help raise funds for Sunny, who she said was left with nothing after she said his belongings were taken away.

"They took everything," she said. "He was literally left in his bare feet."