“Despicable behaviour," Nanaimo Mayor reacts to occupation of school

The Mayor of Nanaimo is refuting claims from protesters that police caused some of the damage to an empty Nanaimo school, which was occupied by protesters this weekend.

Pictures from the building show damaged doors, furniture piled up to form barricades, graffiti on the walls, and holes punched in the roof.

It’s reported that at least a dozen people moved into Rutherford Elementary on Friday, hanging banners from the roof and claiming the building for homeless people.

On Saturday, police moved in and arrested the self-described squatters.

Mayor Bill McKay says the police did not do any of the damage when they moved in to on Saturday to remove the protesters.

"The damage we're seeing here is directly attributed to the folks that entered that building. They're trying to suggest that the RCMP caused that damage, particularly on the lower floor with all of the doors that were broken and smashed into, when, in fact, the RCMP had keys to every door in the building. So that's simply not the case."

Repair and cleanup costs are estimated at $100-thousand and officials say they’ll require a hazmat team.

McKay also does not believe the protesters were from Nanaimo's tent city homeless encampment, as originally reported.

"They're activists and friends of activists. I recognize a number of them [and they] are not occupants of our Discontent city," MacKay told C-FAX 1070’s Al Ferraby. “I hope that the RCMP will convince the courts that some of them need to be charged and, in some cases, incarcerated for their activities."

"It's absolutely discouraging and it's despicable behaviour."

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