Homeless at the Nanaimo 7-10 Club soup kitchen were on guard Tuesday.
“I’ve actually detoured away from town and hiding where nobody knows where I’m at,” homeless man Mike Erikson said.
Their concerns come in the wake of a violent unprovoked attack where two men armed with baseball bats allegedly targeted two homeless people in a tent Saturday. One suspect was reportedly wearing a bandana.
“It’s cowardice they wore masks,” said homeless woman Terri Campbell.
“If they’re proud of what they’re doing, why not show their faces?”
Fifty-one-year old homeless man Fred, who asked that CHEK News withhold his last name, now has stitches and broken bones from the beating that he suffered alongside a 39-year-old homeless woman.
RCMP say the attack appears to be random and the victims were chosen because they were homeless.
“The only thing I remember hearing anyone say was get out of town,” Fred told CHEK News Monday.
“If I see you again I’ll kill you.”
Nanaimo’s mayor Leonard Krog is condemning the act of violence.
“I am incredibly saddened by what happened,” said Krog.
“That people would do that to other human beings. For whatever they think is a justifiable reason is just beyond.”
But homeless advocate Gord Fuller said the crime’s lifting a curtain on what he calls growing intolerance towards homeless in Nanaimo. The homeless population has grown from anestimated 200 a year ago to a staggering 600 now.
“There was often compassion for the homeless,” said Fuller.
“But that compassion has gone into anger, vitriol and downright hate.”
“Oh yeah its gonna get to a point where someone’s going to die. Probably,” said Campbell.
To counter this anger and intolerance, 300 citizens were expected to gather at the Nanaimo Entertainment Centre Tuesday night to discuss solutions.