WATCH: Last fall several supporters of Nanaimo’s “DisconTent” tent city broke into a vacant city school, claiming it could be used as a homeless shelter. The protesters caused thousands of dollars in damage before police removed them. Now, as Kendall Hanson tells us, those who are facing charges are changing.
A brazen break-in back in October at Nanaimo’s Rutherford elementary school was for the greater good according to a group of activists.
They believed the empty building could be a shelter for the homeless.
But the occupation was quickly condemned by many neighbours and the school district leading to heavily armed police arresting the protesters.
Now the school district says it incurred costs of more than $72,000. Most of it was spent on repairs.
Despite the hefty bill the school district is not looking to get their money back.
“At this point no. We’re in the education business,” said Dale Burgos with the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District.
“We want to ensure that we focus on learning in the schools. Vandalism happens in our district almost on a daily basis so we fix those pieces that get damaged and we continue on with what we do.”
Initially, 26 people were charged but that number soon dropped to four.
Recently, charges against three of those were stayed and new charges have been laid against three others.
“They finally decided that those four are not the ringleaders and that another four apparently are the ones who are most responsible for this protest occupation,” said Ivan Drury of Alliance Against Displacement.
“These new four are just as randomly chosen as the original four.”
Tingchun Chen and Ivan Drury, housing activists from the mainland and Christopher Peter Thompson and Mercedes Courtoreille, of Nanaimo are now facing break-in and mischief charges.
“Whoever it is that ends up in court we’re going to be making the same case that the government should be spending public resources on housing homeless people and ending poverty and not on policing and punishing the poor,” said Drury.
The next three to face charges are scheduled to make their first court appearances next month.