Indigenous activists want to deter drug dealing at downtown mall
By Black Powder | RPM Staff, March 25, 2017
A group of Indigenous activists are making their presence known around Winnipeg’s Portage Place Mall to deter drug activity.
Members of the Urban Warrior Alliance and Crazy Indians Brotherhood have been congregating near the back entrance of the shopping Centre since mid-week.
The area in back of the mall is a well-known drug dealing site for pills and other narcotics.
Both groups have been occupying space where the drug dealers hang out and peacefully confronting those involved with the drug activity.
Activists say there is too much violence happening in and around the mall because of the drugs.
According to Vin Clarke, a member of the Urban Warrior Alliance “The women and the children don’t feel safe. The elders don’t feel safe walking through the back [of the mall] so we decided we’re going to shut all this down.”
Red Power Media was there when the groups first gathered on Thursday and spoke with organizers who said they planned to remain at the mall for the weekend. They are also planning a prayer walk on Sunday starting noon at the back of the shopping centre.
More than a dozen people rallied behind the mall on Saturday afternoon, some with drums, while warriors in camo waved Unity flags.
Denny Wood, an activist with the Alliance, said they are trying to send a message to drug dealers.
Wood told CBC News they have talked to dealers who try to sell pills like Tylenol 3 and Xanax. He said once activists have the pills in their hands they confiscate them. “We dump it right in front of them.”
Vivian Ketchum, a frequent shopper of the mall, found a drug baggie, a needle and a pill on the ground just steps outside of the back steps of the mall while a CBC camera was rolling.
The action by the groups started after an elder from the indigenous community had her cell phone stolen. The woman told Red Power Media she was recording an incident at the back entrance involving drug dealers with a gun when someone else took her phone to get rid of the evidence.
Tatty, who is with the Crazy Indians Brotherhood, said people have been robbed at gunpoint behind the Portage mall, including his aunt. She was robbed at gunpoint last week and had her purse taken.
“They wanted money to get more drugs,” he said.
Security for the Portage Place Shopping Centre refused to make a comment to Red Power Media about the allegations. The Winnipeg Police have so far also refused to make a statement about the activists presence at the mall.
In a video recorded by Red Power Media, members of the urban warrior alliance dump pills in a puddle and then crush them.