On Friday, August 18, the Soldiers of Odin Vancouver Island chapter announced that they would be dismantling the tent city through physical force tomorrow, Sunday, August 19th, at 1 pm. Discontent City and the Alliance Against Displacement are calling an emergency rally to defend the tent city. We call on supporters to join us, and on the RCMP and the City of Nanaimo to denounce this vigilante attempt to displace homeless people.
UNCEDED SNUNEYMUXW TERRITORY (Nanaimo, BC): Yesterday morning, the Soldiers of Odin Vancouver Island chapter announced that they intend to dismantle Discontent City through physical force tomorrow, Sunday, August 19th, at 1 pm. Discontent City and the Alliance Against Displacement are calling an emergency rally to defend the tent city. We call on supporters to join us, and on the RCMP and the City of Nanaimo to denounce this vigilante attempt to displace homeless people.
What: Emergency rally to defend Discontent City from Soldiers of Odin
When: Sunday, August 19th, at 12:30 pm
Where: Nanaimo Discontent City’s front gate (corner of Esplanade and Front)
The Soldiers of Odin are carrying out the City’s failed enforcement order
Yesterday, just four days after the Supreme Court of BC turned down the City of Nanaimo’s application for an enforcement order, the Soldiers of Odin posted on Facebook that they will “facilitate the removal of Discontent City”, due to the “inaction of the authorities” and “reports of child sex trafficking”, using the “rule of force”. They ask their supporters to stay away from the area for safety concerns. Though their page has since been taken down, likely due to their threats being reported, there is no reason to believe that they will not carry out their intentions.
Tent city residents have repeatedly pointed out that the City itself legislates and normalizes anti-homeless hatred, which the general public and hate groups like the Soldiers of Odin then pick up and run with. It is not surprising that the City’s failure to obtain the court’s approval to use police brutality against Discontent City has left a void that local fascists are taking upon themselves to fill. The City’s attempt on Monday to justify displacement may have mobilized concerns around fire safety rather than child welfare, but their end goal was the same as the Soldiers of Odin: to intimidate, harass, and disperse the tent city. If the RCMP and the City of Nanaimo do not stand on the side of the tent city residents they are complicit in any violence that neo-Nazi groups carry out tomorrow.
Inciting moral panic over child welfare in order to justify anti-homeless violence
The Soldiers of Odin seek to justify their violence with baseless allegations of “child sex trafficking”. The allegations refer to a minor who has been removed from Discontent City by residents and organizers multiple times, in accordance with the tent city rule that minors cannot live in the tent city because it will put them at increased risk of being apprehended against their will by the State. MCFD is aware of the situation, as is the young person’s family. The Soldiers of Odin’s fear mongering statements suggest two things: firstly, that the tent city enables or produces trafficked youth sex workers; and secondly, that we should address the existence of youth sex work, trafficked or otherwise, through vigilante violence. Both of these suppositions rely on logical acrobatics that incite moral panic in order to justify a displacement that would only send hundreds of people into isolated survival, putting them at greater risk of violence.
If youth are indeed being trafficked in the City of Nanaimo, it is up to the police to investigate. There is no evidence that trafficking is taking place in the tent city outside of the Soldiers of Odin’s declaration, which uses a rumour about youth sex work as grounds to light their torches and bash poor people. If the Soldiers of Odin are genuinely concerned with the safety of youth, sex working or otherwise, why are they inciting violence, rather than using their resources to support at-risk youth on youths’ own terms? The Soldiers of Odin’s call-out has nothing to do with youth welfare or the safety of people engaged in sex work, and everything to do with misogyny and hatred of homeless people. We denounce attempts to market violence against vulnerable communities as concern for street-engaged youth.
A group of grown men posturing as protectors of women’s bodies, whether adult or minors, sex-working or not, is a deeply paternalistic, misogynistic trope that furthers violence against women and children. The figure of the macho man who uses violence to unilaterally intervene in exploitation, imagined or real, is just the other side of a patriarchal coin that portrays women and children as victims who are passively in need of rescue by self-interested men. Whereas the Soldiers of Odin gesture superficially at youth vulnerability in service of their racist and misogynist agenda, Discontent City stands for the self-determination of all oppressed peoples, including women and youth alongside homeless people, Indigenous people, and sex workers.
Our plan for the defense rally
Given that the Soldiers of Odin have indicated that they will use physical force, our defense of Discontent City may become violent and put people at risk of both physical harm and/or arrest. We encourage supporters to join us, and given the huge turnout of our counter-rally on August 5th, we’re confident that we can once again significantly outnumber the fascists and intimidate them into retreat.
It’s important that, as a large group, we act in unity – so no maverick moves, please! We will not be throwing the first punch and will be on the defensive, using barricades and our numbers to keep the Soldiers of Odin out of the tent city.