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Police show off Edmonton encampment weapons as officers deliver evictions at 8th ‘high-risk’ site

A pellet and BB guns, 34 knives, 11 machetes, 10 samurai swords, two axes, brass knuckles and a collapsible baton – that was the message from Edmonton police about the dangers of encampments early Tuesday morning.

Photos of the seized stash were shared on the Edmonton Police Service’s social media accounts at 7 a.m., about two hours before officers approached the eighth and final encampment deemed high risk by the city and EPS.

The weapons in the photos were collected a week earlier during a sweep in Dawson Park.

Tuesday’s encampment sweep at Rowland Road and 95 Street was met with resistance.

“You can identify anyone that needs to go or needs support or anything like that. Identify them to me and I’ll make sure that they get those supports,” a police officer told people at the encampment.

“I’m making my stand! What are we doing? We’re standing up for our rights!” Roy Cardinal yelled while refusing to leave.

Standing quietly beside that discussion were NDP MP Blake Desjarlais and NDP MLA Janis Irwin. Both have also attended at least some of the other seven previous camp sweeps.

“Whether today or 100 years ago, Indigenous people have and continue to suffer displacement,” Desjarlais posted on X on Saturday while calling for better action on reconciliation and more housing.

“Today I witnessed such displacement and am again heartbroken.”

Riverdale resident Kelty Pelechytik came to support the people living on the vacant land near her home.

“These are our neighbours,” she told CTV News Edmonton. “There’s absolutely no issue up here. We bring them coffee, we know their names.”

Pelechytik acknowledged the photos of the weapons shared by police but said she’s not afraid of the encampment.

“These guys aren’t violent at all,” Pelechytik said.

“They’re going to move across the street and in three days they’re going to be back. We’re going to help them rebuild their homes with warm stuff.”

Roy Cardinal speaks with police while politicians listen in at an encampment in Edmonton on January 9, 2024. (Cam Wiebe/CTV News Edmonton)

Cardinal, who said he only recently became homeless, both applauded the officers for doing their jobs and questioned why they were dispatched in the first place.

He said he plans to resist their demands to leave because he sees no good reason to comply. Cardinal believes his camp is safe and wants to be left alone.

“What does this piece of land mean to them that they gotta come and shuffle us and watch it every day be empty? Is it because they’re sightseeing? Aren’t we part of the sightseeing?” he asked.

Earlier in the day, the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights appealed to the courts to stop the eighth and final eviction because of a turn to colder weather.

Police and city officials insisted there was enough shelter space so the judge did not act on the case, instead deferring a decision until the main injunction application is again heard on Wednesday and Thursday.

The city later acknowledged that officials have to consider the weather before removing camps but pointed out there is no specific temperature threshold.

“The city unequivocally rejects the suggestion that our actions over the past 2 weeks have been non-compliant with the December injunction,” a generic City of Edmonton statement said.

“All decisions on encampment closures have occurred in careful compliance with the terms of the order.”

Police are holding a technical briefing on the situation for journalists at 1 p.m. and have agreed to take questions afterwards.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson, Amanda Anderson and Matt Marshall

An encampment near Rowland Road and 95 Street in Edmonton on January 9, 2024. (Jeremy Thompson/CTV News Edmonton)

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