B.C. Civil Liberties Association calls city behaviour 'unseemly' in dealing with Penticton homeless man | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. Civil Liberties Association calls city behaviour 'unseemly' in dealing with Penticton homeless man

FILE PHOTO - Paul Braun is pictured in a breezeway on Main Street in Penticton in January 2018. The B.C. Civil Liberties Association says the city's recent public statement regarding its case against Paul Braun is "unusual" and "astonishing."
May 14, 2018 - 6:30 PM

PENTICTON - The City of Penticton's move to take its case against a local homeless man public has attracted the attention of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

Paul Braun has been charged with obstruction for sitting and panhandling in a breezeway on the city's Main Street in a case scheduled for trial this September. In a statement published to the City of Penticton's website, the city outlined the details of its "last offer" to Braun prior to going to trial.

B.C. Civil Liberties Association policy director Micheal Vonn says the association “has never seen anything like it.”

“It amounts to targeting a citizen for a bylaw infraction, which is incredibly unusual, as is the publication of the final offer to resolve the case without trial. Again, we’ve never encountered such a thing. It’s unseemly,” Vonn says.

"I find it astonishing lawyers for the city have said they don’t wish to have this trial by publicity, or however they’ve phrased it, given what has transpired. They are clearly trying to do that very thing,” she says.

She says city lawyer Troy De Souza’s statement "if we can’t control our sidewalks we can’t address more serious behaviour,” seems to be referencing a largely discredited criminological theory known as the ‘broken windows' theory. The theory states visible signs of crime and anti-social behaviours encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes.

“It’s pretty outrageous to say what’s standing in the way of Penticton dealing with more serious matters is this gentleman in the breezeway,” Vonn says. “The city is saying, ‘By gum, we’d be getting at these serious matters were it not for Mr. Braun.'"

Vonn also noted a certain pettiness in issuing the media release and calling it the Paul Braun case update.

“That level of targeting is extremely unusual. We have not encountered it,” she says.

Braun's lawyer Paul Varga has called the decision by the city to take the case public "a political move" which amounts to bullying.

The case is back before the courts for a pre-trial conference scheduled for June 28.

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