Photo from a video taken by a member of the Bear Clan Patrol in Edmonton
Homelessness And The Systemic Cruelty Of The EPS
The fact that the unhoused population, not just here in the west, but all across the world, are treated as a criminal underclass should speak to the failings of our society in the most significant way. It is often said that a society is judged by how it treats it’s most vulnerable members; and lets just say that modern day society would not do well upon that judgement. The public services paid for with taxpayer dollars, enables the state apparatus to treat the lowest class of society however they see fit. The people who have taken oaths to serve and defend, take those oaths to serve and protect the state, and not everyday people.
That fact couldn’t be anymore clear for the members of the Bear Clan Patrol and the people they serve on a bi-weekly basis. On February 14th, 2021 the Bear Clan was out distributing food and clothing to unhoused folks taking shelter in public transit areas, a practice which the city has endorsed before, when they were approached by EPS officers insisting that the folks could not be indoor due to COVID-19 restrictions. Clearly just an excuse to get rid of the people the city see’s as ‘undesirable’ as they continue to evict and move them from any location they manage to take refuge in.
In the video it’s noted that most shelters in the city are functioning at capacity, and that the extreme weather leaves people with little options. The officers in question adequately showcased their sheer lack of humanity and empathy. They were not only entirely apathetic to the plight of these folks, but they weren’t even human enough to offer alternatives or solutions. They did not offer to arrange transportation to any shelters for any of the folks affected; which according to a recent statement, is what they should’ve done.
This incident seems to be a part of a wider crackdown against homelessness here in Edmonton, a seemingly non-stop campaign that involves everything other than actually housing people. Only a few days before this incident took place, the EPS were caught on video destroying make-shift shelters some unhoused folks had built for themselves. Insisting that these people could go to a shelter, and that there’s no need for them to be building shelter. This attitude has clearly been passed down to the Canadian public, as you can see it mirrored in several comments made on the issue.
It becomes clear that one of the most fundamental insufficiencies of modern policing and government, is that of a sense of empathy, or better yet, democracy. Unhoused folks are driven out of places because the upper classes of society can’t stand to contemplate their existence. People want to ignore the reality that in the system we have today, in order for you to be ‘successful’ somebody else has to be ‘unsuccessful’. In an age where we have more houses than people, it does not make any sense in terms of morality, to have folks sleeping on the streets.
Often people remark that they themselves would’ve been able to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, and get out of that vulnerable position. That if unhoused folks would just choose to be exceptional that they too, could live a normal life. Maybe it’s a radical idea, but I would like to think that you shouldn’t have to be exceptional to have a decent quality of life in one of the richest nations in the world. People proclaim that these people chose that life, that they want to be there; but the people who make these claims have never spent any time talking to these unhoused folks, or if they have, they have surmised a completely surface level understanding of the problems and conditions that those individuals face.
That’s not even mentioning the historical (but recent) persecution of the Indegenious population here in Canada. Between residential schools, racist policing policy, insufficient access to basic needs, the people most often being persecuted by these “anti homeless” measures, are the same people that were affected by the inherent racism built into the Canadian justice system. We as Canadians like to pretend that we’re this progressive paradise while ignoring the fact that we created an entire police force (the RCMP) to genocide our aboriginal population. All this, as well as racist cultural relics that Canadians tend to refer to as “traditional values” makes it significantly more difficult for an indegenious person to maintain an average quality of life than it is for other cultures in the Canadian melting pot.
While it’s true that the many issues the working class faces today makes empathy an extremely rare trait; it is one of the only features that make us human. With each passing decade, as we continue to lose what little sense of empathy we once had, we grow closer to the machines replacing us in the workforce. If we continue to attack each other, and if we continue to fail to work together, our future is destined to be far more horrid than any George Orwell novel has ever depicted.
Video of the incident can be found here.
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