Police calls up 113 per cent in Rossdale near Camp Pekiwewin over last year: Chief McFee

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Pekiwewin Camp, a homeless camp set up in a parking lot west of Remax Field, in Edmonton Wednesday Sept. 23, 2020. On Wednesday representatives from the homeless camp, set up in a parking lot west of Remax Field, spoke to the media about the demands and achievements of the camp. Photo by David Bloom
Pekiwewin Camp, a homeless camp set up in a parking lot west of Remax Field, in Edmonton, Sept. 23, 2020. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

Data provided by Edmonton Police Service Wednesday indicates there were 307 police events at or near the encampment between Aug. 4 and Sept. 14.

Many calls appear to be about social disorder, nuisance or traffic.

The top 10 types of calls were trouble with person (45), collision property damage (20), suspicious persons (19), trouble not known (17), check on welfare (15), disturbance (13), trouble with intoxicated person (12), followup investigation (12), traffic complaints general (11), and theft under $5,000 (11).

Edmonton police spokesman Scott Pattison characterized a “trouble with person” call as a “disorder or nuisance call.”

But EPS spokeswoman Cheryl Voordenhout said calls are put into that category when officers aren’t sure what the call is about. She said those calls can be an intoxicated person, but could also turn out to be about a crime in progress.

Camp Pekiwewin spokeswoman Shima Robinson wasn’t surprised to hear police calls were up.

“The crime rate is literally symptomatic of the level of need people have on the site, living rough,” she said Wednesday.

Robinson said it was effectively a “clash of classes” between the poor, homeless individuals in the camp and upper-class and middle-class residents of Rossdale, and stigma may play a role.

Pekiwewin Camp media liaison Shima Robinson speaks to the media about the demands and achievements of the homeless camp set up in a parking lot west of Remax Field, in Edmonton Wednesday Sept. 23, 2020. Photo by David Bloom
Pekiwewin Camp media liaison Shima Robinson. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

“If you were to contrast the Pekiwewin campsite with Whyte Avenue on Friday night, there’s a lot more drunken disorderly on Whyte Avenue. No one calls the cops on them because they’re well-to-do folks,” she said.

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