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Hostile Public Spaces
Exit your home at your own risk
As I write this piece the manhunt for Myles Sanderson has come to an end almost two months ago. The Convict had absconded his Parole and had been on the lam for four months. He murdered 10 people and injured 15 others on the Reserve of James Smith and the town of Weldon. Myles was captured and then subsequently died, the Coroner analysis is it was a drug overdose. The shock from the attacks is still setting in overall for the people of Saskatchewan and most of the Funerals have concluded. While the manhunt was going on there were several additional alerts for shootings in different areas of Saskatchewan. The veil got lifted a little bit as even the most out of touch Saskatchewan residents were exposed to the reality that violent, dangerous attacks against everyday people are common place in this Province.
This article is not a critical analysis of that attack but the attack is a symptom of a much larger problem that we are facing as a society. Safe public spaces are disappearing and the Police are mostly useless to respond except to clean up the mess left behind. This article is a combination of personal experience, news articles of other people’s experiences and an analysis of some of our unsafe public spaces.
When I was in Saskatoon earlier this past Summer I was in a Downtown Café enjoying some coffee with my spouse when a homeless man came in to use the bathroom. He passed by me and we locked eyes for a split second and I knew something was up, he had this look on his face ( he was missing his left eye) because he had attempted to make eye contact with everyone there. All kept their heads down except for me. I had the audacity to look at him so that meant I would have to face the consequences. After he had left the bathroom he came up to me and stood at my table staring at me. I asked him, what he wanted and why he was at my table, I wasn’t nice, there was a tone in my voice because I understand violence and that I wanted him to understand that I wasn’t going to tolerate his shit. He told me he was looking at me and we had a conversation that consisted of me telling him over and over that he needed to leave my table area. Eventually he began threatening to kill me, by then the store owner was involved and my spouse as well. I told my spouse to call 911 which he did. Everyone else had turned and was staring but that was it. The aggressor at one point said that I was probably a “skinner” which is a prison term for a pedophile. I said to him, oh so your a convict then, are you on Parole? Let me see your release papers. He took a step back and demanded to know if I was a Police Officer. I persisted but also told my Spouse are the Police coming? My spouse shook his head no. I didn’t understand what he meant. Eventually the homeless person left after saying he would be back with some friends to kill me. We ended up leaving the coffee shop shortly after. I asked my spouse what happened with the Police. I was told that that when the 911 call was made he was asked if it was a “life or death” emergency. When he said no and tried to explain they hung up the phone on him.
I phoned Saskatoon Police a few days later to complain. I was told that the Provincial 911 center is overwhelmed with calls and sometimes they have to prioritize. The advice given to me was to call Saskatoon Police directly next time. I was floored by this response. I told the Constable that we are trained since children to call 911, not call the main line of the Police Station with a violent aggressor a few feet away and wade through the options to get to help, Saskatoon Police’s automated line tells you if it is an emergency to hang up and dial 911. I told the Officer that when she is in trouble she can get on her radio for help and 10 Police Cars show up to protect her and she gets extra protections to defend herself with her Peace Officer status. She agreed and said the situation was unfortunate.
So that you know, the Police will not help you. In your moment of need not only are they minutes away but they may not respond at all.
The Decline of the Mall
A popular recreational past time for us in the West has been to travel to the Mall. The mall used to be an interesting public square. I remember going there as a child and spending the entire day at the mall. Malls had lots of seating, kids activities, entertainment as well as the shopping and food experience. Some malls also had Movie Theaters and Small Arcades as anchors to keep people there. Overall going to the mall was both a fun family experience and a generally safe place.
I have seen a rapid nosedive in Mall Culture since before COVID. Mall’s have become hang out areas for delinquent Teenagers, Homeless people, Meth addicts and generally unsavory characters. Most malls have lost their Anchor stores as people flock online for both convenience and safety. These massive buildings sit empty or filled with more and more corporate entities that can afford the rising rental costs. The bathrooms have become coded with Security needing to buzz you in to stop the drug addicts from using and the homeless from sleeping in there. Videos galore can be seen online of groups of teenagers viciously beating each other, ignoring Security and eventually Police while shoppers give them a wild berth. Shootings and stabbings are not uncommon either. Shops have all of their items behind lock and key to prevent hordes of people coming in and stealing large amounts of items off of the rack and running away. Hostile architecture is also being employed more often: less seating or ones that get increasingly uncomfortable over time, security cameras everywhere, less plants and nature and more stone and concrete and segregating seating areas to food courts. It is all in an effort to discourage the use of the facility by the homeless, mentally ill, drug addicted and delinquents. The owners of the Mall feel helpless because they have become expected to manage societal problems in their tiny ecosphere without any resources.
The message put on by these malls is clear. The mall is not an enjoyable experience. The Management does not want you to hang out. The management at the malls wants you to shop, get a bite to eat maybe and get the fuck out.
The Burden of the Public Park
A past time in the past was the Public Park. A place you could bring your kids, maybe a potential romantic date, a few friends, go for a jog, a walk with the dog, etc… and just enjoy nature and the scenery. This would feel especially important for people living in the city, a concrete jungle of sorts, to experience a reconnection with nature. Unfortunately these days the only people who generally get to enjoy parks are those who can afford entry into a private park area gated off from the misery of modern living, leaving the poorest to stay home or risk their lives in public parks.
The modern public park is maintained through the city, who quite often have to pair their employees up for safety reasons or in some cities provide a Police or Security escort. Yes the modern public park space has been overrun by drug dealing thugs, violent parolees, drug addicts openly consuming substances, tent cities that reek of urine and feces, shopping carts full of garbage, hordes of hedonistic youth looking for quick thrills. A visit to your local park might have you dodging piles of shit, used needles stamped with your local health regions logo, garbage, sharp used coals, used condoms and spit/vomit amongst so many possibilities. To go to a park path for a jog as a woman alone could be your death sentence or you might be raped by a predator who is literally living in the bushes. If your bike gets stolen you should consider a trip through your local tent city to try to find it as the Police will certainly be useless to help you as they are too busy giving speeding tickets or cleaning up another dead body from overdose.
Overarching is our City and the authorities complete inability to resolve these issues. They are no doubt complex issues and I understand that there appears to be a growing number of people who are opting out of society. They do not want to follow rules and hate anyone in a position of authority so they won’t go to a shelter and they won’t respect housing provided to them. Yet, the authorities and social services seem to be at a complete loss as to how to handle the situation. We are told that we need to be more compassionate as the dregs resort to more and more desperate measures to get their fix while occupying public land that your tax paying money pays to upkeep.
Eventually it gets so bad that the police, by-law and health officials are forced to take action. Usually a clean up action that involves eviction. When that final step must be taken, suddenly the leftist outrage machine springs into action. Mobs of fat, multi-colored hair, commies come crawling out of the suburbs from their parents basements to protest. The media shows up and the inevitable happens and the media runs with the story for a few days about how we need to be more compassionate and understanding. Yet, the underlying issues are never resolved. The people who side with the police are branded and attacked online by the hate mob. The cycle repeats and never gets fixed. Regular every day people continue to be harassed.
Dangerous Hospital Stays
Kevin Witchiken was 31 years old when he was convicted of stabbing a drug dealer to death after luring him into an apartment in Edmonton Alberta. He was handed an eight year prison sentence. He must have served his entire sentence. When he was 39 years old Kevin Witchiken was hanging out at the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon when he went up to Randy Beauchesne, who was there with his daughter for cancer treatments, in the cafeteria and drove a screwdriver through his skull. He was charged with attempted murder and after Randy died as a result of his injuries the charges were upped to murder.
We have a criminal who has killed someone with a knife appearing to engage in the same attack eight years later. This is obviously a person who is not only comfortable with violence but appears to enjoy the up close and personal nature of violence. Eight years in Prison did little to dissuade this behavior and the public suffered because the system was weak. An innocent man was murdered in a terrible fashion by someone who holds absolutely no value in life whatsoever.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority says there's no information at this time to suggest there are more safety concerns for visitors or patients at RUH as it relates to this incident. - CBC News
Here’s the thing, why was Kevin Witchiken hanging out in RUH in the first place? I don’t know the answer and it doesn’t appear the Hospital is willing to release the answer. What I do know is that incidents of violence and theft are not uncommon in Saskatchewan Hospitals. They are not safe places for the public. I have spoken to several people and stories range from theft of their belongings from rooms to Correctional Officers wrestling with convicts in the hallways while they are their for treatment. This is a growing trend throughout Canada. Our healthcare system, already over burdened is forced to use their waiting rooms and public spaces as defacto shelters for the homeless, drug addicted and mentally ill. The homeless are provided blankets and can be seen sleeping in hallway chairs. Some of them have their belongings with them and use the electrical ports to charge their phones.
This is not what Hospitals are designed for. These are supposed to be places of medicine and healing. One should not have to worry about being murdered by a psychotic by-product of a system that doesn’t know what to do with it’s criminals. The law abiding Canadian taxpayer deserves better.
Library Quiet Time
As a child I remember we used to go to the Public Library on a regular basis. I would sign out a library book and they had an audio/visual room. During the Summer it was a nice place to cool down and read some magazines when I was out and about during the day. My library card was probably my first ever real piece of ID and it was in my wallet granting me access to knowledge and new computer technology as it came out. For some people the library was a place where you could access knowledge without the need to have money to purchase the books yourself. However the purpose of the library has changed.
What used to be a cultural mainstay has become a hangout zone for welfare bums, drug addicts and the mentally ill. A few years ago I returned to Windsor and I needed access to a photocopy machine so I decided to visit the local library. What the library contained was fewer and fewer books but instead it had become a camp ground for the homeless population. People were sleeping in chairs, in corners and any odd nook and cranny. The staff seemed oblivious to this and I noticed that I was one of a handful of people inside actually using the services. As soon as I used the photocopy machine which was 10c a sheet I was approached by several people asking for money. The Security Guard came and shooed them away but it was obvious to me that this was simply a regular occurrence. Not only had people adapted to this but they appeared to have adopted a learned helplessness approach to dealing with it.
Another issue is that over the years the youth programs for libraries have been in decline. The Windsor Library, as many others have suffered from sex offenders being caught jerking off while watching the children in the library. Perhaps even worse is the new library trend of the invitation of drag queens to dance, twerk and collect money from people during the leftist trending “Drag Queen Story Time Hour”. These adult performers are not trained to work with children and in some cases have not even had to get a criminal record check completed prior to their…ummm…performance. Several videos available online show how inappropriate these story time hours can be for children but I digress, another topic for another article.
What has become clear though is that the public library is not a safe space for members of the public. The emphasis is not on learning or education.
Cop Killing Becoming More Common
Canada has in general had far less Police Officers killed then the United States. In the past a Police officer being killed became a televised funeral with heads of State making appearances to offer condolences. It just isn’t a common situation that occurs. I believe that is because our Social Contract has, in general, indicated that Cop killing is too taboo for most criminals. It takes a particular mindset for a criminal to confront someone who is trained to fight back, is expected to fight back and can summon additional people quickly to fight back. In the wise words of Batman, “Criminals are a superstitious and cowardly group”. Most criminals want to make money and getting heat from the Police is not a good way to conduct business.
That social contract is not in effect any more. In less then two months in Canada 4 Police Officers have been murdered in 3 separate incidents. At least two other confirmed attempts on Police Officers lives occurred as well. At least one of the murders happened at one of the homeless camps we discussed earlier.
When public spaces are as dangerous for Police Officers as it is for the general public, what does that say about our society?
I think we’re in big trouble. Police Officers being murdered will have a chilling effect that will disproportionately effect the lower income neighborhoods which will be policed with more veracity but will overall not have a major impact on crime itself. Deep down the police know this as well. Gang members and most professional criminals know their rights, know how to exploit the system and have nothing to lose like most working class people.
I call this low brow policing. The Police would rather go after “soft targets” like traffic ticketing and policing online speech then target hardened gang bangers because society and our weak Criminal Justice System have made it nearly impossible to get results. People need to realize that Robert Peel’s principles have been abandoned and the general public, while sympathetic to the plights of the Police, have become distrustful of them as an organization.
I don’t have any good parting words here unfortunately. My analysis does not come with a silver lining. It is simply a warning of what is occurring right in front of our eyes. Public spaces in this Country are shrinking more and more as we cede ground to the criminal and hedonistic elements before us. We are told that we simply need to be more compassionate and understanding as if that will protect us. When we do have violence inflicted against us it is excused away. When we defend ourselves the progressive element will ignore it if it comes from a protected community or slander if it does not. The people most effected by this are those who cannot afford to seek alternatives to these public spaces and must contend with the potential for harm.
I will part with my words I often say on Twitter as a reply to these stories.
What is your line in the sand and when will you finally have had enough?
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