Nanaimo barber threatened by man rattled by social disorder near his shop

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A Nanaimo barber is calling for more government support for downtown businesses after being threatened by a homeless person outside his shop.

Dave Lawrence says he arrived at his workplace, That 50’s Barbershop, with his nine-year-old son and was telling the homeless man he had to move along when the man threatened, with a weapon, to kill him.

“I just touched my hand to his shoulder and said, ‘Look buddy you’ve got to go, you’ve got to get out of here,’ and that’s when he jumped up and threatened to kill me. [He] spit at me,” said Lawrence.

The Nanaimo barber says the man came into the shop, threatened to kill him again, and swung a pointed umbrella at him.

Lawrence called 911 and numerous police responded, but the man involved wasn’t found. Lawrence says he’s tired of constantly having to clean garbage, human waste and shoo people along. He’s also had to deal with break-ins.

“It’s escalated so much in the past couple of years and yet I’ve emailed the mayor and city council and literally get no response,” said Lawrence.

READ MORE: Nanaimo barber shop the latest business to suffer broken windows

A member of B.C. coalition Save Our Streets says it’s still a huge problem.

“We’ve still got people dying in our streets in record numbers, so it’s not only hurting the people on our streets but it’s hurting the rest of us as well,” said Kevan Shaw, with the Nanaimo and Area Public Safety Association.

The incident comes shortly after Save Our Streets, partly founded in Nanaimo,  announced that in a few months it’s membership has doubled to 60.

“And we’re still seeing more people joining and more businesses joining because this is out of control,” said Shaw. “The provincial government needs to stop this failed experiment of decriminalization and get back to the basics of protecting everybody else.”

Nanaimo’s acting mayor says while the city’s community safety officers are an aid, they aren’t a fix-all and the province should provide more services.

“The province has made efforts. Should they/could they be doing more? I think, yes, absolutely and I think there’s broad community support both from making sure people get the help they need, and the resources they need,” said Tyler Brown, Nanaimo’s Acting Mayor.

In a statement, the B.C. government says to address public safety concerns, it launched the Safer Communities Action Plan, the Repeat Violent Offending Intervention Initiative and financial support for businesses affected by crime and vandalism.

Lawrence says he just wants to be able to show up and work instead of spending so much time dealing with social disorder. He says it’s a massive problem that needs to be addressed.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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