A group of people calling themselves Action Against Discontent City, and others affiliated with an anti-immigration group are planning to march to the steps of Nanaimo’s city hall this weekend.
According to a Facebook post from Action Against Discontent City, a newly formed group of residents in Nanaimo who are upset by occupants of the homeless camp, as well as the Soldiers of Odin Vancouver Island, are planning to march past Discontent City and city hall on Sunday.
“We are planning a citizen patrol/march and needle cleanup through downtown past city hall towards Discontent City with our friends of the Soldiers of Odin Vancouver Island chapter,” notes the Action Against Discontent City post, which has garnered more than 300 comments since it was published on July 30.
Cpl. Tammy Douglas, Island District RCMP spokeswoman, said Nanaimo RCMP will be monitoring the march.
“The Nanaimo RCMP are aware of this and they will be monitoring and that they will be adding a couple of extra officers on for that specific event,” Douglas said.
Soldiers of Odin Vancouver Island’s president, who requested anonymity, confirmed with the News Bulletin in a series of Facebook messages that his group will be marching with members of AADC this Sunday in Nanaimo at 1:30 p.m.
“Soldiers of Odin will be accompanying a group of concerned citizens who wish to exercise their right to free speech in protesting inaction of local and provincial governments in dealing with Discontent City. We will be providing security and doing a safety walk. We are by no means there to encourage or promote violence or hate in dealing with this problem,” the president said.
His statement went on to explain that members of his group are anticipating a large turnout for Sunday’s march and that while they feel for the problems homeless people face, the march is designed to put pressure on local politicians.
“We sympathize with the plight of homeless people and hope that this action pressures city hall to provide safe accommodations elsewhere with a more controlled environment. The citizens of Nanaimo have had enough of the constant harassment and crime that goes along with this camp being in our city,” the statement said.
Action Against Discontent City also communicated with the News Bulletin via Facebook, saying, “We are a non-violent group here to voice our concerns peacefully with anyone who shares the same concerns.”
In a Facebook post from July 28, AADC explains its position by calling Discontent City a part of the drug epidemic problem and not a solution. The post goes on to explain that Discontent City has created an environment that “not only supports but encourages” drug activity, harbours drug dealers, creates “stigma” for those who need help and fails to create an environment that promotes “healthy choices and lifestyles” safe for all.
According to the Soldiers of Odin Vancouver Island Facebook page, its mission is “to improve people’s sense of security, if necessary, by intervening in threatening situations, and by reporting incidents to the police.” Their main purpose is to “protect people, especially women” and help everyone regardless of their “ethnic background.”
Soldiers of Odin was founded in Finland a few years ago by Mika Ranta, an admitted neo-Nazi, according to a 2016 article by the Agence France-Presse, which later notes that members patrol Finnish streets to “protect” citizens from asylum seekers.
The president of Soldiers of Odin Vancouver Island said the chapter is made up of individuals from all walks of life and disputes claims of neo-Nazism.
“We have members of all creeds and religious backgrounds. Those are baseless allegations; I defy anyone to produce evidence of my club being anything other than Canadian patriots,” the president said in a Facebook message.
Action Against Discontent City said Soldiers of Odin reached out to them regarding the idea of a march.
“I’d really like people to be informed that they are not here to hurt anyone or fight anyone and they have really awesome intentions that don’t involve harming anyone,” stated AADC.
Discontent City advocates could not be immediately reached for comment.
-with files from Chris Bush/The News Bulletin