Pubdate: Wed, 13 Jul 2016
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The London Free Press
Author: Dale Carruthers
Page: A1


Anti-homeless activist says business owner's actions 'not a solution'
to addiction problem

Some are hailing him as a vigilant hero, but others say he may be
setting a dangerous precedent.

A viral video of a bat-wielding London business owner chasing off two
men allegedly injecting drugs in broad daylight on a downtown street
has triggered a debate about addiction issues in the city.

Dave McCallum, owner of NYC Stylz, said he grabbed a baseball bat to
confront the pair after spotting them huddled in an unused entrance to
Market Tower across the street from his Richmond Street clothing shop.

"The guy had the needle up in the air in plain view, then I saw a kid
right beside him," McCallum said Tuesday.

The one-minute video shot by McCallum's friend last Thursday shows the
store owner striking the ground with the bat multiple times while
yelling at the pair, one of them on crutches, who quickly pack up
their belongings and flee.

"The kid is what really got me. Seeing a little kid witness that and
how detrimental it was to downtown," McCallum said.

The 42-year-old posted the video to Facebook, where it had been viewed
nearly 50,000 times and shared by hundreds of users by Tuesday

Many on social media hailed McCallum as a hero, saying more people
like him are needed.

Chuck Lazenby, executive director at the Unity Project, a London
homeless shelter, sees it differently.

"I don't see the heroism in that," Lazenby said of the altercation. "I
think it's really dangerous for people to think that this is what we
should be doing."

Abe Oudshoorn, who chairs the London Homeless Coalition, said the
proper response would have been to ask the men to leave, call a
homeless outreach service or even contact police.

"What he did is not a solution. It maybe moves the problem away from
where he has to see it, but it doesn't offer any support to the
individuals," said Oudshoorn.

London police hadn't received complaints about the confrontation, said
Const. Sandasha Bough, who encouraged citizens to call police if they
see criminal activity.

The Dundas-Richmond area has long been a hot spot for drug activity.
Uniformed police, as well as undercover officers, are regularly
stationed nearby.

For Lazenby, the incident shows the need for safe-injection sites, a
divisive issue being debated in communities across the country.

"For people who don't have (a home), they will use their drugs where
they happen to be," Lazenby said. "So that means it does impact other
people, in terms of having to see that."

Earlier this year, a feasibility study was launched by the Ontario HIV
Treatment Network and the Regional HIV/AIDS Connection to examine how
supervised injection services could best be used in London.

Advocates say the sites - Vancouver has them, while other big cities
are in the approval process - save lives because users get clean
needles, nurses intervene for overdoses and the sites offer other
health services that can place those users on a path to recovery.

Critics, however, including some police forces, fear the sites will
foster illegal drug use and attract criminal activity to the area.

McCallum, who has been flooded with messages of support since posting
the video, said his bat-wielding antics didn't do much to deter the

"They were back the next day, using again, in the parking lot this
time," he said. "I told them to leave again, minus the bat."
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