06/18/2013 06:28 EDT | Updated 08/18/2013 05:12 EDT

Police Pepper-Sprayed Abbotsford Camp, Says Homeless Woman

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A homeless woman in Abbotsford, B.C. has come forward to say she is behind allegations local police slashed and pepper-sprayed tents at a homeless camp.

- Police slashed homeless tents, say advocates in Abbotsford, B.C.

Denise Eremenko, who lives in the woods in Abbotsford, said police warned her in May they would move in to break up the camp, because someone was building a permanent structure.

Eremenko alleges police moved in when no one was at the camp one morning, and slashed some tents with a knife.

"It's bullying, they are trying to intimidate people. It's disgusting," she said.

Eremenko also claims officers pepper-sprayed the inside of the tents, destroying people's possessions.

She acknowledges she did not witness police officers breaking up the camp, but claims one officer made it clear police were responsible in a discussion days later.

The allegations were first raised at a community consultation held last week by Pastor Ward Draper of The 5 and 2 Ministries, a Christian charity which helps Abbotsford's homeless.

About a dozen tents belonging to homeless people had been slashed in the last three months, Draper told a meeting of the Abbotsford Social Development Advisory Committee.

"Slashing tents is something we've heard a lot of over the years, where they'll go in and they'll use a knife or whatever to cut up tents, but the [use of] bear mace is the new thing,” said Draper.

Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich said he's taking the allegations seriously and wants the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner to investigate.

The new allegations come less than two weeks after the city manager was forced to apologize for dumping manure in a park in an effort to chase away the homeless.

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