Friday, April 18, 1997

Guarding against unnecessary violence

A Yellowknife shopkeeper found out the hard way last week that taking the law into his own hands is not legal and not condoned by the courts.

Kong, who operates Corner Mart on 50th Street, was convicted of assault after he took a stick to the head of an intoxicated 22-year-old customer who reminded him of a man who had attacked him two years ago.

While Kong's reaction to the man is unfortunate, it is understandable in Yellowknife's downtown core where drugs are rampant, theft is not unusual, violence is a near daily occurrence and public drunkenness is the norm.

Kong said in an interview with a xxxYellowknifer reporter he is frustrated that police cannot help him stop people from stealing from his store. He has already suffered injuries from previous attacks.

Certainly had the police been called, and had they arrived in a timely fashion, it might have been a case of another overnight visitor in the drunk tank and no harm done.

But Kong did not call police, perhaps because having an obnoxious drunk in his downtown store is so commonplace. He may have felt he would not get action.

As the police were not given the opportunity to respond, they cannot be blamed for not doing so. But if there is a perception that officers don't consider public drunkenness worth their time, that is a problem.

It may be a matter of workload. To even the casual observer, police have their hands full with drunkenness downtown.

However, if shop owners feel police cannot save them from personal injury and property theft and damage, what alternative is there other than taking the law into their own hands?

Under seige

What would Yellowknife be without the Legion?

Yellowknife's Branch 64 of the Royal Canadian Legion has been a bastion of the community for more than 50 years. The Ladies Auxiliary has been doing good works for 47 years. Across the country, Legion ranks are thinning. There have been no wars to produce more veterans. No wars is a good thing, no legion is a bad thing.

There is talk of changing legion rules to encourage membership. There should an equal effort to let people know what the Legion is all about. If more people knew, more people would join.

So much to do

A quick scan of recent editions of Yellowknifer shows that Yellowknife's arts community is in full bloom this spring.

In addition to a potpourri of musical performances, there are talent auctions, theatre productions, painting classes, and so much more. And that's in addition to arts and crafts programs put on regularly through the city's recreation department.

It almost seems a shame for so much to be happening at the same time the weather has finally lured people out of the house and into the great outdoors to enjoy Mother Nature's own spring arts festival.