With some wearing Justice for Clint T-shirts, hundreds of people in Nanaimo attended a rally calling on all levels of government for a safer community.
Organizers planned it after a man was shot while trying to retrieve stolen equipment from a homeless camp.
“We’ve come to a point in Nanaimo where everyone knows someone whose business or home has been broken into, someone who won’t let their kids go downtown anymore, someone whose thinking of moving somewhere safer,” said Tamara Kronis, a Nanaimo resident and former federal conservative candidate.
“If no one is going to step in then what are we left with? Enough was enough a long time ago,” said Collen Middleton, Chair of the Nanaimo Area Public Safety Association and rally organizer.
The rally is the third of its kind since September in Nanaimo. This one was fuelled by a shooting this past Sunday. Clint Smith and five others went to a homeless encampment to retrieve some equipment stolen from his auto-mechanic business. they were met with gunfire and Smith was shot in the stomach.
SUNDAY’S ARTICLE: Person shot when retrieving allegedly stolen items: Nanaimo RCMP
Smith underwent his third surgery Wednesday. According to a family member, doctors decided to leave the bullet in Smith’s lower intestine. Doctors were bringing him out of an induced coma Thursday but he’ll remain in the ICU over the weekend.
“Clint would be really emotional over the support from everybody but Clint’s a tough cookie and the first thing he’s probably going to say when he opens his eyes is ‘did they get the guy?'” said Chrissy Forsythe, a friend.
While the rally was organized by a non-partisan organization a number of politicians attended, including members of Nanaimo’s City Council and the Mental Health and Addiction Critic who says her party has a comprehensive plan.
“Our party has also not minced words that we would consider in certain situations looking at things like looking at involuntary care. We have to consider public safety, without safety there isn’t wellness and people in the community of Nanaimo right now are telling us they don’t feel safe and they don’t feel well,” said Elenore Sturko, the Mental Health and Addictions Critic who travelled from her south Surrey riding to be at the rally.
Nanaimo City Councillor Sheryl Armstrong says this isn’t a policing problem.
“This is a problem of not investing our dollars properly as we’ve heard in addiction treatment and then the follow-up afterwards.”
Armstrong says people do really well in treatment but if they don’t have a home and resources afterwards they go back to their old way of life.
Police say while they’re actively investigating the shooting no one has been charged. People have donated more than $21,000 towards a GoFundMe to support Smith during his recovery.