Toronto wants people to snitch on each other for not social distancing but not everyone is on board
The city has introduced an online system where residents can report anyone not complying with social distancing and closure measures in Toronto, but not everyone thinks it's a good idea.
The city of Toronto tweeted a link to the new online system this past weekend, which encourages residents to "use the online forms below to share concerns about large gatherings, use of parks amenities, businesses in non-compliance and price gouging."
#CityofTO has launched an online system where residents can report issues of #COVID19 non-compliance, including individuals not self-isolating and operation of non-essential businesses and construction sites. Submit a report: https://t.co/1jQRQWhCu6— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) April 18, 2020
The webpage features several categories where residents can report non-compliance, including non-essential businesses that remain open, non-essential construction sites in operation, individuals breaking the social distancing bylaw, people removing city park barriers and businesses that are suspected of price gouging.
But since the city tweeted about what some are calling Toronto's new "snitch line," many have expressed concerns about the dangers of over-policing as well as the toxicity of encouraging residents to tattle on each other.
really Toronto? A snitch line? 'cuz nothing says we're in this together like this... https://t.co/EjsmydNqyc— Laryssa Waler (@LWaler) April 19, 2020
"I'm not a big fan of snitch lines," he said bluntly. "I think you have to trust people to follow the rules and make the rules clear... Heavy-handed law enforcement is the antithesis of public health."
Meanwhile, many residents have taken to social media in recent days to share similar points of view.
"This Toronto snitch line idea will be a disaster and it's bad public policy," one Twitter user wrote online. "People who hate their neighbour will find a way to snitch them. Will create more toxicity."
Others are criticizing the city for focusing on community policing rather than opening up streets to pedestrians and pressuring the province on rent relief.
Hey Toronto, why don't you open streets for pedestrian use, and pressure the province to help with rental housing so we can have better basic support during this instead of setting up a snitch line? Thaaaanks.— _n ⚔️ (@_nadine) April 19, 2020
Some have also pointed to evidence that increased policing disproportionately impacts those who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC).
We know who is going to be reported most by these snitch lines. BIPOC people are never “supposed to be there”. Activists and scholars have been warning about the extension of carceral logics in this epidemic since the beginning. Do better, Toronto. https://t.co/T0ITmS7Lj5— Desmond (@desmondcwong) April 19, 2020
And others are wondering why the city is putting so much emphasis on compliance in parks when many shelters and supervised consumption sites still don't allow for proper social distancing.
City of Toronto creates a snitch line to expand their network of community policing, rather than focusing on communities who do not have access to resources to self isolate https://t.co/yRDLmFWX69— Vincent Wong (@InitialVW) April 18, 2020
A select few have also pointed out the hypocrisy of encouraging residents to snitch on non-compliance when Toronto Mayor John Tory and the Toronto Police Service gathered with crowds of people to show appreciation for healthcare workers just days ago.
John Tory has wasted no opportunity to lecture and criminalize people who are trying to get some fresh air and exercise, and patronizingly refused to give traffic lanes over to pedestrians to make social distancing easier. Meanwhile he pulls a performative stunt like this!??— Eephus Pitch (@eephusasher) April 20, 2020
And one Toronto-based neuroscientist, Robin Mazumder, tweeted exactly what many seem to be thinking when it comes to the new "snitch line."
"They would rather start a snitch line than open the streets to give people more space. It's impossible to walk down a sidewalk in Toronto while maintaining adequate social distance. This is so disappointing. I hope they collect data on race. Guess who's going to get tattled on..." he wrote.
"Taking these draconian measures without even considering creating more space for people is cold. This isn't 'tough love.' It's cruel."
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