Anger and frustration from advocates in wake of mass shooting in Winnipeg

Community advocate Sel Burrows says there needs to be a re-investment in crime prevention in Winnipeg, saying he’s angry not enough action was taken before a mass shooting happened in Winnipeg. Morgan Modjeski reports.

Shock, sadness, and frustration are raw in the City of Winnipeg as many try to come to terms with a mass shooting that left four people dead and a fifth clinging to life in hospital. 

Sel Burrows is a long-time community advocate in Winnipeg who has been calling for more resources in the city’s north end and central neighbourhoods for years.

This spring, he advocated to the Mayor’s office for more training for community associations by city officials to act as eyes on the street for police and a re-investment in recreation for youth, saying these supports are needed to reduce crime — like the shooting in the 100 block of Langside — across the community. 

“We have some wonderful potential volunteers out there, but they need to learn how to report crime, what to look for, so those kinds of eyes on the street are available, and I’m sorry but we have almost no recreation left in the inner-city,” said Burrows.

“I’m angry, I’m so frustrated that we aren’t getting the action needed to prevent crimes.”


Burrows isn’t alone in his frustration. In a written response Coun. Sherri Rollins, who represents the Fort Rouge, East Fort Garry Ward where the shooting took place, says the situation is tragic, but is not surprising, as the city is in the midst of what she says is a “violent crime spree.”

She says while it’s too early to know exactly what supports may have been relevant in this case, she’s observed several gaps that need to be addressed, calling for more wrap-around, risk-focused rehabilitation programs at the intersection of mental health, housing, and the justice system, and more support for victims of crime who have experienced trauma and violence.

“The entire board was shocked and saddened by the events that occurred over this past weekend,” said Rollins. 

Winnipeg Police Board Chair and Seine River St. Norbert Ward Councillor Markus Chambers says while the shooting remains under investigation, incidents like this and the drug trade are “part and parcel” in creating an environment of violence in the city, saying it’s common for police to seize 3D-printers for homemade firearms at drug houses, but says it’s an environment police are working to dismantle. 

“Whether it’s ghost guns, whether its guns that are illegally transported across the border, the Winnipeg Police Service is working diligently trying to curb what we’re seeing in the rise of gun violence in our city,” said Chambers. 

Kelly Gorkoff, a criminologist at the University of Winnipeg, who has been researching homicide data in Manitoba going back to 2007, says there needs to be a shift in how violent crime is addressed, saying the three main factors behind homicides — poverty, gender and family structure and race and inequity — are what need resources and focus, as opposed to police and law-enforcement approaches alone. 

“The only solution that has been put forward to deal with this has been to shore up policing and other criminal justice responses and it simply hasn’t worked,” said Gorkoff. 

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