Nanaimo school squatters facing break-and-enter, mischief charges

Nanaimo school squatters facing break-and-enter, mischief charges

The RCMP Emergency Response Team and Nanaimo Fire Department on the scene of a protest at an empty school on Oct. 6, 2018.

The RCMP Emergency Response Team and Nanaimo Fire Department on the scene of a protest at an empty school on Oct. 6, 2018.

Squatter activists who occupied a closed school in Nanaimo for 18 hours this past weekend are facing criminal charges.

At around 2 p.m. on Oct. 6, 27 squatters were removed from the boarded-up Rutherford Elementary and arrested for break-and-enter or mischief. Const Gary O’Brien, media relations officer for Nanaimo RCMP said there were no reports of injuries by those arrested or officers involved.

According to police, the individuals entered the building at around 4 p.m. on Oct. 5 after breaching a rear door. At that time, police did not attempt to remove the individuals.

“At the time of the occupation, the attending officers did not know exactly how many protesters were in the building, what their intentions were or if there were any weapons. Given these factors, it was decided to secure the outside of the school for the evening then reassess the situation in the morning,” O’Brien said in a statement.

The group included members of Alliance Against Displacement and claimed the break-in was in opposition to “anti-homeless hate” related to a B.C. Supreme Court injunction on Sept. 21, which gave homeless campers at Discontent City 21 days to leave the encampment.

At around 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, three of the protesters tried to leave the school, were arrested and were taken into custody.

Then at 10:30 a.m., officers with the Vancouver Island Tactical Response Unit, Vancouver Island Emergency Response, Police Dog Services and various other officers entered the building and began the process of locating and arresting the protesters. Nanaimo Fire and Rescue also lent a fire truck with an extension ladder so officers could reach the squatters on the roof.

By 2 p.m., all of the protesters were arrested and in custody. Through Saturday afternoon and Sunday, 26 of the 27 squatters who were arrested were released from police custody on promises to appear. They have been charged with break and enter and mischief and are set to appear in Nanaimo Provincial Court on Dec. 11. One man who held in custody and is expected to appear in court on Oct. 9 due to outstanding warrants related to other criminal matters.

After the squatters were removed, the building was turned over to School District 68. Steve Rae, the chair of Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools, said the damage left behind will cost the district at least $100,00 to clean up and repair. Photos of the damage were posted to Facebook.

I see the Alliance against Displacement have blocked me so I will share some pics here from what we found in the…

Posted by Steve Rae on Sunday, October 7, 2018


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