In my rant about “What is Going On?” last week, I talked about an event that took place in the local grocer where an elderly woman could not afford groceries, and as a consequence, she left the store with only some of what she needed for her needs, and spent all of her money in the process. This week I’m going to talk about an event that took place on the street where the authorities were enforcing an order by the city to remove squatters from a vacant property next to City Hall of a near by town.
In a weired and twisted web of fate and circumstances, there were several squatters who took up residence beside, of all places, the Provincial Court House and City Hall of a near by town. I was performing some clerical duties that day, and I just happened to be parked along the perimeter of the parking lot next to the bushy area that separated the buildings and walkways from the busy street that ran along beside. I was sitting in my vehical, arranging papers, when I herd the voices of people yelling and cursing. I looked up and saw police officers with rubber gloves and dust masks on their faces pulling sticks and plastic garbage bags that were laying along the bushes. The voices were of men, still laying underneath the bushes, telling the police to leave them alone. What shocked me was, that there were over ten people huddled in what looked like a grove of low laying bushes, most of them wearing garbage bags as rain coats huddled in the centre, and all of them had bearded faces and tattered cloths. It was clear that they were squatters.
For the police, it was clear by their actions that getting the squatters to move on off the property was the intention. For the squatters, they wanted to be left alone and were quite happy were they where. However, the mandate of the City’s by-Law was clear: “no squatting,” especially on City property.
Most of the men reluctantly moved off and started walking away, while two others were still arguing with the police officers. These two men were abrasive and angered that they had, by what they believed, were their rights taken away from them. For the police, it was more than issuing an “removal,” this was after all 9:30am and raining, so getting the job done fast seemed to be the objective. The police reasoned with the two men for several minutes. The bantering went back and forth, and it seemed that there was going to be no acquiescing soon until one officers took the matters into his own hands, and told one of the men that if they continued resist then it was off to the “slammer.”
This got me thinking! This maybe the “band aid” solution that these squatters needed. If they could somehow position themselves so that they could spend time in the “slammer,” say at least one or two nights per month, then this would give them a chance to receive health check-ups, get one or two square meals, and an opportunity to seek help so that they could find some avenues to finding a more prosperous lifestyle. This could be a win-win situation? Somehow I think the justice department would object to this, but if squatters could take advantage of these resources then perhaps our prisons (Department of Canada Corrections) could provide more of a dual-role in society?