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Vancouver police investigate threats of arson against homeless in Downtown Eastside

Click to play video: 'Vancouver police investigate threats against unhoused' Vancouver police investigate threats against unhoused
WATCH: DTES residents and homeless advocates are shocked that someone has dropped hundreds of pamphlets threatening to burn down homeless tents and belongings if they don’t leave the Hastings and Main Street tent city by Aug. 23. Julia Foy reports. – Aug 16, 2022

Vancouver police are investigating flyers distributed in the city’s Downtown Eastside threatening arson against the area’s homeless.

Images of the flyers have begun circulating on social media, with reports of them being thrown out of a car window.

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The flyers say that “tents & belongings on the side walks (sic) will be burned with gasoline and propane canisters,” and that Insite, the supervised injection site, “will be the first building to be burned down,” warning that people have seven days to “comply.”

“Residents that live in the area will not you to destroy our community any longer with your selfish, (sic),” the flyers read. “This is a serious warning to the homeless in the area. Leave now or suffer the consequences of your selfish addiction.”

A Downtown Eastside resident who gave her name as Kirsteen told Global News the flyers have alarmed the neighbourhood.

“I had two girls tell me they were throwing them out of a car window at Main and Hastings,” she said. “One of the girls outside (the Overdose Prevention Society) told me she had one strategically placed outside her tent so that she’d see it as soon as she crawled out of her tent in the morning.

“If these are humans with addictions, then what does that make the person who wrote this? Not human? Maybe, because they’re threatening to burn everybody down.”

In a Monday media release, Vancouver police warned occupants of the Hastings Street tent city to be vigilant and to report suspicious activity.

Police said they were investigating who was responsible for the flyers.

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Read more: ‘Vulnerable’ woman set on fire in Downtown Eastside, police say

“Until we know more, we’re asking everyone to be extra vigilant, to look out for their neighbours, and to report suspicious activity,” Sgt. Steve Addison said.

Global News is seeking comment from Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart.

In a tweet, Stewart said the flyers were “reprehensible & won’t be tolerated.

“Those responsible will be regarded with the fullest extent of the law.”

The investigation comes amid efforts by the city to remove the controversial Hastings Street encampment, following a fire safety order from Vancouver Fire Chief Karen Fry to clear the street of structures.

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Advocates for the homeless and BC Housing both say there isn’t housing available to accommodate those sheltering on the street.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver police say woman lit on fire in random attack' Vancouver police say woman lit on fire in random attack
Vancouver police say woman lit on fire in random attack – Jul 27, 2022

There have been several attacks apparently targeting homeless people in the Lower Mainland in recent weeks.

In late July, someone allegedly deliberately set a woman who was sitting on the sidewalk on Hastings Street on fire. That same day, someone allegedly set a homeless man’s homemade shelter on fire in the Downtown Eastside.

Read more: ‘They’re good people’: Langley, B.C. shootings expose dangers homeless people face on streets

That same week, a man shot four people, killing two, in Langley. Several of the victims were reportedly currently or formerly homeless.

Anyone with information on the flyers is asked to contact Vancouver police at 604-717-2541 or to phone 911 if they see a crime in progress.

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