[diggers350] OCAP's Toronto Safe Park for homeless people busted - What next?

Tom Boland wgcp at earthlink.net
Wed Aug 11 09:14:24 BST 1999

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OCAP's Toronto Safe Park for homeless people busted - What next?

OCAP <ocap at tao.ca> may benefit from our advice on how to respond now that
Trronto police have evicted the Safe Park protest.

In the wake of arrests, how do organizers build the action to keep
politicians' feet to the fire?

For more, go to http://www.interlog.com/~cjazz/copstory.htm#report
& click on:

"Safe Park News Reports - Aug /99"

Photos and detailed information of the Safe Park
are available at the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty Web
Site. http://www.tao.ca/~ocap/

Also, for a voting site on OCAP's protest of homeless sweeps and a related
article, see below:


Hundreds of Toronto's homeless have occupied a downtown park since Friday.
Should they be allowed to stay?

Total Votes for this Question: 305

So far, 24%  people have voted for Yes
So far, 76%  people have voted for No

Tuesday, August 10, 1999


By CRAIG WONG -- Canadian Press

TORONTO (CP) -- Police officers wrestled with homeless people and
anti-poverty activists early this morning in a raid to end a three-day
occupation of a downtown park.

About two dozen people were arrested for trespassing and public mischief
after police marched in to clear about 50 illegal campers just after dawn.

Most of the protesters walked away peacefully after police gave them 15
minutes to leave the park. Television cameras captured some protesters
being physically subdued and wrestled into police vans by officers.

The group of homeless people and their advocates had been living peacefully
in the park since Saturday, when they set up a tent city to protest a lack
of beds in city shelters and a shortage of affordable housing.

About 150 people bedded down for the night Saturday when the occupation
began, but by Monday their numbers had dwindled significantly.

"We were prepared for pretty much any contingency, but I think it played
out with a minimal amount of force," said Toronto Police Insp. Randal
Munroe, who added police had been planning the raid since Sunday.

While officers cleared the park, a riot squad sat in nearby vans and others
on horseback watched from a distance.

City parks workers began cleaning up the debris left behind by the
protesters moments after they were thrown out. In less than an hour, the
historic Allan Gardens was reopened.

Protest organizer John Clarke, who heads the Ontario Coalition Against
Poverty, had earlier called on Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman to back off and
end what he called an attack on the homeless.

The coalition opposes a new policy that has seen police officers work
overtime in recent weeks to purge the city of squeegee kids, panhandlers
and street criminals.

"This continues to be a political issue that the city of Toronto has to
deal with," Clarke said after the protesters were forced out.

"We have to have an end to the police harassment of homeless people. We
have to have provisions for people's needs in terms of shelter space.

Clarke promised the protesters would continue to push for solutions to the
city's homeless problem.

"Until the problem has been dealt with . . . the problem is going to be
there and by God the resistance is going to be there," he said.

Lastman had pledged to force the protesters from the park, calling them
"professional bums," and blasted their organizer as a thug.

It's a harsher edge to a mayor who cast himself in June as an advocate for
the homeless at a Halifax conference for the mayors of Canada's largest

A United Way study in January described Toronto's 26,000 homeless as a
national crisis.


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**

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