Discontent City and Alliance Against Displacement plan a counter-rally against an anti-homeless march in Nanaimo organized by “Action Against Discontent City” and the white supremacist gang Soldiers of Odin.

UNCEDED SNUNEYMUXW TERRITORY (NANAIMO): On Sunday August 5th, the far right, white supremacist group Soldiers of Odin will join an ad-hoc group of anti-homeless bigots organized under the name Action Against Discontent City to march in opposition to Discontent City, the homeless camp that has been home to more than 300 people in Nanaimo’s downtown since May. Discontent City and Alliance Against Displacement are calling an emergency counter rally against anti-immigrant racists, anti-homeless bigots, and government and police efforts to repress and displace the poor rather than end poverty and homelessness. The sprawling crises of capitalist and colonial inequality will not be solved by bigotry and white supremacy. As counter rally organizer Kevin Donaghy said, “We are rallying to show that Nanaimo does not tolerate racism or anti-homeless hate. The City of Nanaimo and the RCMP have shown that they are part of the problem of hate and violence, so our communities have to defend ourselves.”

What: Counter rally against hate groups marching on Nanaimo’s Discontent City
When: Sunday August 5th, 1:00pm
Where: Nanaimo Discontent City front gate (Corner of Esplanade and Front Street)

Is anti-homeless hate right wing extremism or government policy?

Since Discontent City opened on May 17th there have been hundreds of vigilante threats made against the camp and its residents. On the first night of the City’s injunction hearing against the camp, a group of bigots pelted a woman in camp with stones and bottles from on top of the parkade across the street, hitting her in the head with a bottle. A man leaned out the passenger side of a car driving by and shot a man inside his tent with a paintball gun. A public supporter of the camp has had a bottle thrown at her, and a man has spat in her face. The RCMP has not made a single arrest in any of these cases, have not made a single public statement decrying these hate crimes, and have not – as far as we know – made a single visit to a bigot posting death threats on Facebook. Darcy, a resident of tent city states, “Police aren’t doing their job. They’re only here to make the public feel safe. When we ask for help because we feel unsafe from the vigilante violence, there’s no police.”

Vigilante violence, alongside the disinterest of the RCMP in protecting vulnerable people from those acts, complement and buttress the City’s own strategy of displacing and repressing homeless people. In this context, the emergence of a far right hate group onto the stage should come as no surprise—the anti-homeless march organized by the Soldiers of Odin and Action Against Discontent City is a culmination of, rather than an exception to, the City’s policies. Since Discontent City formed, the City of Nanaimo has aggressively tried to break up a community of self-organized homeless people fighting for safety, visibility, and an end to the negligent government policies that have pushed them into the streets in the first place.

Rather than build affordable housing (a refusal that went so far as to turn down Provincial money for social housing), the City of Nanaimo has relied on police, fire department, and bylaw harassment, as well as applications for court-ordered displacement, in attempts to bully Discontent City out of existence. Rather than protect homeless people, who are the ones most vulnerable to violence and death, campers have seen RCMP officers on the roof of the nearby mall while anti-homeless vigilantes launch bottles into the camp. Rather than work with resources that BC Housing has offered to make the camp more fire safe, Nanaimo’s renegade fire chief Karen Fry has applied for a draconian court order that would empower police to arrest homeless people whose campsites do not comply with her over-the-top fire order.

Nanaimo’s city council, RCMP, and Fire Department all give the same message: that homeless people are not part of the public, that they are unwanted, and that they should be driven out of the city. These hostile government gestures legitimize and encourage anti-homeless hatred amongst the public and embolden hate groups who share the City of Nanaimo’s racist disdain for Indigenous people, who make up the majority of Discontent City, as well as broader anti-poor hatred. So what is the difference between how the City of Nanaimo treats homeless people and how the Soldiers of Odin, or Action Against Discontent City, want them to be treated?

Urgent call to action! March against racism and anti-homeless hate

The City of Nanaimo, the RCMP, and the Fire Department bear the responsibility for normalizing the anti-Native and anti-homeless hatred that the Soldiers of Odin and Action Against Discontent City are now defending. The City’s fascist tactics have enabled both vigilantes as well as hate groups to act as unofficial departments of the government, carrying out the repressive work initiated by the City itself. Discontent City refuses to stand by while white supremacist groups jump onto the violent, poor bashing, anti-Native bandwagon created by the City of Nanaimo and championed by large sections of the public.

The RCMP told a camp organizer that they will attend the white supremacist march on the camp to “protect both sides.” Melissa, the resident of Discontent City who was struck in the head with a bottle, responded, “With the RCMP providing a police escort for this group to march on the camp, they’re saying it’s okay to perpetuate anti-homeless hatred and violence against us. Especially when they haven’t responded to any of our reports from the camp about vigilante violence against us and organizers.”

Discontent City calls on all members of the community to rise up against the mobilization of racist, neo-nazi sentiment in Nanaimo. We are organizing a counter-rally on Sunday, August 5th at 1:00pm with the intention of defending the camp against the threat of violence from the Soldiers of Odin and their support within the city. We will put ourselves between hate groups and police and the residents of Discontent City by blockading the camp from any vigilante violence and their efforts to dismantle the camp by force.

For more information please contact us at organize@stopdisplacement.ca