Some Rutland residents are advocating violence to seriously injure thieves, 'junkies' and 'zombies' - InfoNews

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Some Rutland residents are advocating violence to seriously injure thieves, 'junkies' and 'zombies'

It seems any bicycle or pile of garbage is suitable for uploading onto the Rutland for Safe Neighbourhoods Facebook page.
Image Credit: Rutland for Safe Neighbourhoods
August 29, 2019 - 7:00 AM

KELOWNA - On the strength of a unified voice, Rutland residents managed to force changes to how a supportive housing project in their neighbourhood will operate.

Their collective approach, which included a 13,000 signature petition was too hard to argue with and Kelowna city council and B.C. Housing blinked, agreeing to make housing on McCurdy Road a ‘dry’ facility instead of no-barrier housing where residents can safely consume drugs or alcohol. The move was ostensibly a reaction to concerns about street crime, theft and trash left over by homeless people despite the province’s view that harm reduction and not abstinence was the best way forward.

But before their response is viewed as something to duplicate, perhaps it’s worth noting that a Facebook group created for that effort, Rutland for Safe Neighbourhoods, has since devolved to the point many members have begun calling for violence, traps and even death to deal with homeless people, thieves and perpetrators of street crime.

Here’s a look inside the community group.

“Louisville slugger to the knees,” stated one response to a post about stolen items.

“Wait up ... time to brake (sic) bones,” stated another.

“What is the pain inflicted/tolerance/recovery time on paint ball shot vs pellets? Asking for a friend.....” stated another.

One person extolled the benefits of electric fences while another suggested “100 of us need to dress in dark clothes, hide on our property at night, and every junkie who enters gets a serious beating about the lower legs with a bat.”

All this was in response to a post a woman made about her sister’s unfenced property where a barbecue was stolen a few weeks ago followed by two bikes.

The breaking point seems to have been a video of someone entering an unlocked vehicle and the police not taking action.

The page is still largely the main method of contact for members who organized to stop the McCurdy Road house. The main spokesperson, Audra Boudreau, has continued to update readers on things like meetings with groups that manage these homes and advice on how to continue lobbying.

"The group was set up because people are frustrated and want to get something accomplished," Tania Gustafson, one of the four administrators of the site told iNFOnews.ca. "People are just so frustrated and angry. Maybe some of them see it as an outlet."

She noted that, since it's a closed group, people may feel better venting on this site rather than on an open social media site.

"I do not believe we should be inciting violence," Gustafson said. "I do believe people should have a voice. I do think they should be respectful."

Some people have been removed from the site and she recently took down a post after another member of the group objected to it. If administrators are alerted to material that some find offensive, they can review it.

The site has also become a forum to report, often with photos, petty crimes, piles of garbage, shopping carts and bike thefts.

And the tone includes dehumanizing people on the streets by, among other things, calling them zombies.

In recent weeks some have advocated for the Hells Angels to patrol the streets or to dump fish fertilizer and cat manure in places where the homeless congregate.

One suggested Rutland was once known as the “Devil’s Triangle,” illustrated with a drawing of a triangle on a map showing the five supportive housing units already in or about to be built in a loosely defined Rutland.

There is also a contingent of contributors who blame all of Rutland’s crime problems on Mayor Colin Basran and city council, suggesting they are personally gaining from the opioid crisis.

“Can we sue our council for allowing and encouraging opioid crisis,” one posted asked.

On the up side, Don Billard posted: “Something positive! Those wall murals I’m seeing around Rutland look amazing!”

He was referring to a mural painting project sponsored by the Rutland Business Association.

For his efforts, Billard got 118 likes versus 57 for the post about the stolen bikes and barbecue.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Major changes were made to this story Aug. 30 at 7:30 a.m. We removed screenshots of comments on the message board. We originally included the screenshots as verification of the quotes we used. We considered the comments public since they were made in a forum with 2,500 members and few entrance requirements.
The point of the story was to point out the frustrations of Rutland residents and that a growing number of posts appeared to be advocating violence. This was also a group we presume many other groups would emulate and we thought it important to gauge the temperature there.
The point stands without calling out individuals who made these statements believing they were in a closed group. Including the screenshots and the subsequent arguments about whether that was a wise decision has detracted from the overall story and that is regrettable. On further reflection, the screenshots are not necessary to the story.
Two others points: As community forums have proliferated on Facebook and other sources, they have become staples for community news coverage but etiquette in the use of these forums is evolving as well. We will continue to evaluate this relationship and how standards for journalism and fairness may apply in this area.
To those who feel we have chosen one side in this issue, our record stands for itself. We have covered Rutland For Safe Neighbourhoods positive efforts to aid their community, ideas to help as well as crimes, crime rates and frustrations. We have covered this issue from many sides and we’ll continue our efforts to highlight aspects of  homelessness, crime and open drug use we believe the community needs to know to understand what is happening around them. If you have any questions regarding our decisions on this or any other past or potential future story, contact me directly. Email Marshall Jones at mjones@infonews.ca.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2019
InfoTel News Ltd

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