The Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) condemns the actions of the City of Toronto and Toronto Police Services on July 20th and 21st in their removal of people residing in Alexandra and Lamport Stadium public parks and the use of brutality and repression against encampment residents and supporters.
The City mobilized tremendous resources to clear these small encampments. This extremely expensive war on the poor only makes sense from a perverse capitalist perspective. They sent hundreds of well armed police, mounted police, private security and city workers to clear the parks. They caged in encampments with large metal fences, limited and in some cases denied journalists access to these areas, and pepper sprayed, brutally assaulted and arrested dozens of people.
Several of the victims of this police riot had to seek medical attention for broken bones and other police inflicted injuries. Among those arrested and beaten were members of our party and many others involved in the struggle to recognize housing as a right. Haudenosaunee land defender Skyler Williams was taken to hospital after being hit with a baton in the face. One of our members was arrested for photographing a police officer kneeling on the head of a protester, which is a police restraint that Toronto police say they do not use because of its potential to kill. These are only two of many horrific stories from this week.
Despite anything Mayor John Tory or the City is saying, people sleeping in tents are doing so because of a lack of acceptable alternatives. The City is not offering permanent housing to people, but instead is offering temporary accomodation in overcrowded and unsafe shelters or in hotel shelters where residents have to adhere to rules, can only bring limited belongings and the hotel may be located far from the supports they need. It is clear that the needs of this group of people are not met by the City, which is why most of those evicted remain outside.
While the City and the Toronto Police play games and try to pass off the responsibility to one another, no progress is made and market “solutions” proposed by politicians continue to displace more and more people into shelters and the street.
This cycle of violence must end now. Billions are made by a select few off of this housing crisis while police budgets balloon. The police officers who have been caught on film pepper spraying, using batons and assaulting encampment supporters need to be brought to justice. John Tory needs to be held accountable for presiding over these acts. The names of the police officers in command and politicians who ordered these actions must be made public and they must be held accountable. We support the demand of Black Lives Matter and others to immediately defund the $1+ billion police budget by 50% and fund social housing and other public services.
Housing for all!
No encampment evictions!