Life in the Slow Lane

Life in the Slow Lane

Monday, January 22, 2007

Sadness...

A very sad time in my city’s recent history is prominently in the news today. This date marks the first day of the trial against Robert (Willie) Pickton who is charged with murdering 26 women at his pig farm in a nearby suburb. These women were for the most part living high risk lives of prostitution and/or drug use. As a result the fact that they were missing was not really acknowledged by the police for many years. The families are angry and our police force has been criticised a great deal over this issue. I can honestly see both sides in this situation. Most of these women were from the Downtown Eastside, Canada’s poorest neighbourhood. They lead dangerous and transient existences and I can understand why our already overtaxed police department were unable to dedicate a great deal of time to tracking down people reported missing who were perhaps not in regular touch with their families and not in a position, due to their lifestyle, where they really wanted to be found anyway. Yet I totally know that society in general doesn’t place the same importance on the rights and safety of women like these and as a result they are often pushed to the wayside and suffer for it. It is a lose/lose situation for everybody and that is further emphasized to me by today’s newscasts.

It has taken several years for the prosecutors to amass all the evidence needed to go to trial and during this time our media had to follow strict black-out regulations so the evidence wouldn’t be tainted and a jury could be successfully gathered. I believe that some information is still off limits but I heard details today I had only suspected in my worst nightmares. They found body parts in freezers. Human bones in manure piles. Boxes of victims’ clothing. They confirmed rumours that neighbours of this pig farmer were warned they may have received meat from him containing human remains. I have always heard that pigs eat anything and that appears how he disposed of many of the bodies. Truly horrific things to hear about.

At this point I believe there are over sixty missing women and Pickton admitted to an undercover cop he had killed 49 women. I doubt we will ever know the true figures. What they do forecast is this trial taking over a year to complete and that means more and more terrible details and further questions about how this could have happened. The TV news program I watch vowed to try to offset the horror of this situation by presenting a ‘feel good’ story every night. For this I am grateful.

My city, that I love, is one of shocking contrast. We are a place of beautiful people and locations. It is a place where evidence of the good life is all around you. It is very easy to get caught up that everything is perfect. A dangerous delusion. It is also a place with a terrible drug problem resulting in prostitution and crime and poverty. It is very easy to drive around and never see anything that might offend your senses but if you look closer or walk the streets you stumble upon people sleeping on the sidewalks or are approached by panhandlers looking for spare change. You can literally walk two blocks from expensive downtown stores to seedy hotels and rampant drug dealing. The line separating these two extremes is very, very thin.

I really don’t know how I can wrap all this up. What it all means. I guess I hope that people see how women living high risk lives can fall through the cracks and what that can mean. I hope people see that these women were daughters and moms and sisters and not just a product of how they lived their lives. I just hope that something good can come of all this sadness and negativity and horror we will be marinating in over the next several months.

9 comments:

hemlock said...

I heard something on CBC the other day regarding the Downtown Eastside. I some cases some 911 operators would hang up on people calling from that area, simply because they receive so many calls. How to weed out the legit calls from the constant bombardment? Once again, you can see their side of the story. They just wanted to do their jobs, but had a hard time finding their way through the insanity.

In my opinion, regardless of how many family members these women have left behind, they are still women and they still lost their lives. Whether they were sisters, mothers or daughters, it's still horrifying. Their relation to other people only makes it more so.

My heart goes out to the families and friends of all these women. My heart goes out to all women of your city, because this man walked your streets and has now tainted your perception. It's so very sad.

Unfortunately, I don't think that justice can ever be served in this situation. How can it?

I do hope, however, that all the family members involved can get at least some kind of peace via this trial. They, at least, deserve that.

whfropera said...

I am sorry to say that stories similar to that are all too frequent on the news here in Detroit.

sigh...

Circe said...

Stacey, I had no idea such a chilling story was emerging from your city. Though the number of victims are extremely high in this case, it's unfortunately not a rare case. Something similiar was going on when I lived in Kansas City and I have certainly read of other instances around the country and around the world (thinking of the UK here...).

hugs,
circe

Candace said...

Wow. That's just horrific.

eclectic said...

It's beyond, really. People can be so incredibly beautiful, and people can be so unimaginably hideous. I hope it doesn't drag out as long as they say.

JP said...

That's just horrible. Another case of humanity's injustice against itself. You said it so well where these women were daughters and mothers and sisters. I think their lives get lessoned by society because of what they are doing for a living, but no life no matter what the person does can be considered so disposable. That's just wrong.

Squirl said...

It's sad when we can place a lesser value on some human lives because we feel the need to be judgmental.

alan said...

I've been following this on NPR here...we can only hope that each time a story like this comes out that next time someone is a little quicker to listen!

We had one hear several years ago who was surgically dismembering girls and throwing their torsos off bridges. The man they arrested was set free because they didn't have enough evidence to hold him, but they rearrested him on other charges and he's been put away for a very long time. No more bodies, so far.

Another local serial killer is on trial now. If this is the heartland, I can only imagine what "life in the big city" must be like!

Thinking of you...

alan

east village idiot said...

Wow. That is scarey. I would be afraid to be on that jury.