Outreach Police Officer Stabbed To Death In Homeless Encampment

sun shining through steam and high rise apartment buildings
Burnaby at daybreak.

Tent encampments are little islands of anarchy, with inhabitants attempting to survive in opposition to, or at best outside of, society’s rules. Encampments of people experiencing homelessness in North America are in some respects akin to overlooking 500 years of colonization on the continent. Offered few or no other meaningful choices, one pathway to survival is to attempt to re-colonizing the land.

This ‘Wild West’ environment is not enhanced by the presence of people who are chronically homeless. They make up only a small fraction of a homeless population, but a fraction of that fraction of people who are chronically homeless suffer from drug abuse or mental health issues.

With tent-dwellers left to a self-policing survival, it’s perhaps surprising that they are as non-violent as they often seem to be. Either that, or homeless-upon-homeless violence is simply ignored by society as undeserving of official attention1.

These are environments that ‘upstanding citizens’ have actively or passively helped create by not pressing for inclusionary solutions to the homelessness crisis. These encampments are far from safe environments. It takes a degree of bravery and commitment as well as compassion to do essential work around and within them.

Here’s one tragic example of both that compassion and bravery from CTV: ‘Her loss is immeasurable’: Slain B.C. RCMP officer worked on Burnaby detachment’s homeless outreach team

Footnotes

  1. Certainly people who are homeless are at much greater risk of violence than people who have homes. Read more in The Tyee: Our Kids Are Safe: It’s Homeless People Who Are in Danger