It seems newly elected Winnipeg Mayor Brain Bowman may have fallen into a familiar trap.
The controversy grew legs when The Boss of Talk – Charles Adler called out Troy Media Editor-in-Chief, Doug Firby, for penning his racially infused literary attack on River City.
Firby labelled Winnipeg, “Canada’s Detroit” and went to great lengths to underline our social problems, crime rate and economic challenges.
The article prompted a pointed twitter response from Winnipeg Free Press reporter Bartley Kives:
Whether the Mayor should have dignified the story or not is open to debate.
What shouldn’t be open for debate is the issue of safety in our crime challenged City. That didn’t stop Mr. Bowman from sliding down the slippery slope.
There are a number of reasons why Mayor Bowman should not have fallen into the familiar trap of asserting our downtown is “safe.”
The most significant reason is, it’s not true.
- Nov. 8, 2014 – Rinelle Harper (16) brutally sexually assaulted and left for dead under the Donald Street bridge.
- Aug. 1, 2014 – Thirty-five (35) year old female victim brutally sexually assaulted in the area of the Donald Street bridge.
- May 4, 2014 – Rustom Paclipan (23) shot and killed at the Opera Ultralounge at 441 Main Street in what police called a gang related attack.
- Feb. 15, 2013 – William Moar (24) gunned down at Johnny G’s restaurant at 172 Main Street in a gang motivated attack.
- Apr. 2, 2013 – Nigel Dixon (20) gunned down by gang members in the 500 block of Langside Street in misguided attempt to defend gang turf.
- Mar. 16, 2011 – Adbul Jemei (22) stabbed to death behind Portage Place in a senseless killing with racial overtones. Investigation revealed serious concerns regarding youth armed with firearms, knives and improvised weapons frequenting Portage Place and the surrounding area.
In “safe” cities, people don’t get brutally raped or murdered by thugs or gangsters in or near the downtown area.
Mayor Sam Katz fell into the same trap when he asserted, “I have no problem going downtown, I have no problem going to the North End, regardless of the day of the week, regardless of what time it is.”
I’m sorry, that kind of denial is reckless and irresponsible.
The reality is Winnipeg is a national leader in homicide, youth crime, robbery, violent crime and gang crime.
The stats don’t lie.
Mr. Bowman must concern himself with creating a true culture of safety in downtown Winnipeg and not get caught up in making optimistic proclamations that can be instantly shattered by the flash of gunfire or the thrust of a steel blade.
Responsible leaders of crime challenged urban centres should never get caught up in the public safety spin game.
Proclamations of public safety simply don’t cut it. Perceptions of public safety simply don’t cut it.
The time has come to confront the ugly truth and make downtown safety in Winnipeg a top priority.
Winnipeg residents deserve nothing less.
Feature photo of Brian Bowman by Doug Kretchmer