At the Sept. 20 youth-led climate strike I witnessed some very good work by Nelson police and by-law officers. As I volunteered to assist with blocking traffic to allow the Fridays for Future march to safely travel along a planned route, I was hoping that my efforts to ensure this happened without incident would be adequate.
My apprehension soon disappeared as I saw the professional manner in which police and by-law officers efficiently and calmly monitored the situation and then did what was required to allow the participants to exercise their democratic right to protest. It was an example of community policing in action.
Traffic was blocked as required; officers showed respect to the protesters and non-protesters alike; they didn’t engage in discussion or attempt to “move things along.” One potentially dangerous incident I observed, where a man driving a lifted 4×4 truck tried to drive around a blockade (which included children barely half as tall as his truck was high), was defused by an officer who spoke to the offending driver.
Nelson is a very fortunate place to live for most residents — it is often referred to as a “bubble.” It seems that many consider this “bubble” to be a sort of “titanium armour” that will protect Nelson against all manner of threats. That is not accurate.
Nelson is quite vulnerable on a number of fronts: fires, extreme weather, food shortages and social unrest. Particularly the latter has slipped under the radar of the comfortable middle class. As the full dimensions of the climate and extinction crisis manifest themselves globally, nationally, and regionally, there will be no “bubble” capable of isolating Nelson and its residents.
As more people — particularly parents — realize the gravity of our situation, the social ramifications of climate change will manifest. Then we will need a police force well-versed in community policing principles. Last Friday’s professionalism gave me some hope that we are charting a positive course in this regard. Let’s continue to build trust and co-operation while most of us still enjoy our lives “in the bubble.”