A video posted to social media Saturday appears to show a man spraying water on a homeless person sleeping on downtown Vancouver steps.
But police and friends of the man and his partner say the video does not tell the whole story.
Mike Chatwin says he took the video at 35 Gore Avenue around 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning.
WARNING: This video contains extreme language. Viewer discretion is advised.
“I just heard some yelling outside,” he said. “The building manager from across the street approached the homeless guy who was sleeping, and they had a little bit of a confrontation.
“The building manager then stormed into the garage, grabbed the hose, hooked up the hose and hosed him down.”
Chatwin said the man deflected the water with his blanket, crying and screaming for the man to stop.
“I felt sick to my stomach,” he said. “I was watching with my wife and we were both in shock and could not believe it, that someone would be treated like that in a time like this. I mean in general, but in a time like this especially.”
He says he has seen that same building manager spray other homeless people’s belongings in the area before.
The video ends with Chatwin yelling at the manager that he filmed the whole thing. The building manager turns around and gives Chatwin the finger.
Chatwin then went outside to give the homeless man some dry clothes.
He says when he was out there, someone threw a golf ball at him.
Confrontation led to hosing
Janice Abbott with Atira Property Management told Global News the video failed to capture the incidents that led to the building manager’s actions.
According to Abbott, the building manager’s partner had requested the homeless man leave the steps earlier that morning, but the man refused.
“He was quite aggressive with her,” she said. “She went and did an hour’s worth of chores and came back and he was still there.
The couple, who manage the building through Atira, then called police, Abbot said. The video begins shortly after the male building manager had his own verbal confrontation with the homeless man, who still refused to leave.
Abbott said police were empathetic with the couple, but urged them to call police immediately “rather than take matters into their own hands.”
Fanta Sesay says she’s lived in the building for 10 years.
She says the building manager has had ongoing issues with the same man.
“It was also done in part to protect the health and safety of the building,” she said. “Right now with the COVID-19 crisis somebody who is spitting at residents and spitting at the building manager and defecating and urinating in the area, that’s not sanitary.”
Vancouver police confirmed they attended the scene and an investigation is ongoing, with officers speaking to both parties involved.
Abbott said while homelessness is an issue in Vancouver and throughout the province that requires compassion, but added that “being homeless is not an excuse to be racist and misogynist.”
“You don’t get a free pass. You still have to be a reasonable human being,” she said.
“This woman is probably five-foot-one, maybe, and he’s a pretty big guy in comparison. He had all kinds of ways to say no. He did not need to use racial slurs or pee on her or spit on her.”
Abbott added the building manager gave the man several warnings that he would turn the hose on to clean trash and human waste off the steps, which the man ignored.