Winnipeg librarians warned about growing violence before fatal stabbing

Winnipeg librarians warned about growing violence before fatal stabbing

The Winnipeg librarians’ union attempted to trigger an alarm about the increase in violence and weapons days before a man was stabbed at the city’s downtown Millennium Library, a union official says.

‘There’s a systemic problem there of violence in the workplace that they’re subject to’

Winnipeg Millennium Library

Someone in Winnipeg pulled out a hatchet during a disturbance at the library last week, the union president says, while on Sunday a man died after being stabbed.

Gord Delbridge, president of CUPE Local 500, the union that represents City of Winnipeg workers, sent a letter to the mayor Scott Gillingham, calling for a meeting to address the safety concerns.

“Something has to be done. We’re at the point now where we’re no longer asking, now we’re demanding,” he told CBC News.

Officers were called to the library just after 4:30 p.m. Sunday. A man was rushed to hospital in fatal condition, where he was pronounced dead.

Three male youths have been arrested.

The union filed a grievance on Monday against the city over unsafe work conditions, Delbridge said.

“They’re shooken up. They go to work to be a librarian. There’s a systemic problem there of violence in the workplace that they’re subject to, that they shouldn’t be subject to,” he said.

“The employer’s got a legal responsibility to provide a safe work environment. We can see that is not happening.”

There were a group of individuals last week causing a disturbance at the Millennium Library and someone pulled out a hatchet, Delbridge said. The police service’s tactical team was called in.

It also prompted the letter from the union to the city, Delbridge said.

Winnipeg Police vehicles outside library

A number of Winnipeg police vehicles sit outside the library at 8 p.m. on Sunday.

“They [librarians] shouldn’t have to be dealing with this. They took on the role to serve the public as a librarian and don’t think that they need to be police officers,” he said.

“They’re not compensated as such, so they shouldn’t be subject to it.”

Before anything, the union wants the city to work with community groups.

“There’s a lot of vulnerable people within our community who are trying to better themselves by utilizing the services at the library, whether they’re using the public computers for job applications, various other means,” Delbridge said.

“That’s what a library’s for, to improve people’s lives. That makes for a better community, makes for a better society. We can’t lose sight of that. You can’t take a knee-jerk approach and put up barriers.”

The city, in a statement, said the library will remain closed at least until Dec. 19 “as we evaluate next steps for ensuring the safety of all staff and visitors.”

All deadlines for holds and returns of library materials have been extended.

Winnipeg Library

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