Close to 100 people gathered at the Nanaimo courthouse Wednesday and called on all levels of government for improved community safety in the wake of a stabbing that killed a man with developmental disabilities.
Numerous speakers spoke about how they have been impacted by crime, some are business owners who have suffered numerous thefts.
“After numerous insurance claims my insurance agent told me that if I made another claim that I would get denied insurance. If I get declined insurance my bank will decline my mortgage,” said Brian Rice, the owner of Maffeo Salon and Day Spa.
“I have a thief who has stolen from me dozens of times, none of which have made it to the courts because the police on the direction of the courts have been told not to forward charges. What am I supposed to do? The justice system is failing both this person and the community,” said Willow Friday, who owns Iron Oxide Art Supplies.
Other speakers have been victims of random crime in the city. The husband of the pregnant woman who was assaulted with a brick in downtown Nanaimo in August and the mother of the fiance of the man who was fatally stabbed to death last week.
“We all have to stand together as a community and make sure that our community representatives are there to represent us not the money,” said Lee Marstein, who says her daughter is among those reeling following Fred Parsons’ death.
The speakers called on the senior levels of government to take concrete steps to improve community safety and one speaker urged people to vote carefully as municipal campaigns get underway later this week.
“Ask your representatives and the person you want to vote for to explain their platform for how they will deliver a safe Nanaimo,” said Darrel Gyorfi, a former long-time RCMP officer.
One person across the street heckled those at the rally.
“They want to blame everything on jail and judges and that’s not what this is about. It’s not. It’s about caring for people. Okay, you’ve lost a planter you’ve worked really hard for it, I get it but isn’t mental health more important? Isn’t somebody being housed more important?” said Shyanne Nyman.
Rally organizers say they agree more supports for the vulnerable are needed but say accountability is also a key element to improving safety in the streets of Nanaimo again.