Protesters blare Imperial March from Star Wars as Toronto cops clear yet another encampment
If you can't beat them, make them look like total tools.
Advocates for people experiencing homelessness got creative this morning when protesting Toronto's destruction of yet another tent encampment — this one at Lamport Stadium Park — by using loudspeakers to blare a song that has become synonymous with evil authoritarian regimes.
"The Imperial March," composed by John Williams for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, is a recurrent musical theme within the wildly-popular film franchise.
It is also known colloquially among fans and non-fans alike as "Darth Vader's theme song" or "the death march." Online content creators have been known to set the track against actual news footage as a form of political criticism.
There was no need to edit the video that came out of Liberty Village this morning, however, as hundreds of Toronto police officers, bylaw-enforcement officers and private security guards marched to enforce trespass notices against some 17 homeless people.
We're at Lamport Stadium where @ESN_TO and ESN Parkdale are mounting an encampment defense with encampment residents. Police have moved in on foot, bike, horseback, and vehicle with Star Security and court services present. 1/#Toronto #ONpoli pic.twitter.com/aC3bSHwZS1— Hamilton Encampment Support Network (@HamOntESN) July 21, 2021
Rather, people protesting the Lamport Stadium encampment eviction played the song live on speakers loud enough for everyone within earshot to enjoy.
The message to police and city officials was clear, and advocates gathered to support encampment residents got a kick out of it.
Sadly, nothing else happening at the scene today is even moderately funny. To ask those present and many others watching through digital means, the situation is downright f*cked.
this is what we’re up against, please turn up pic.twitter.com/kGDf9xRTvo— Michael DeForge (@michael_deforge) July 21, 2021
City crews have once again entirely fenced off a public park and are arresting anyone who dares to go inside: Volunteers, activists, journalists and anyone else who might get in their way or document what they're doing.
Nine people were arrested in total during the dismantling of a different encampment, the one at Alexandra Park, on Tuesday, less than 24 hours before cops arrived on bike, foot and horseback to Lamport Stadium.
Advocates report that the entirety of Lamport Stadium Park had been surrounded by cops, cruisers and court wagons before 6 a.m. on Wednesday.
For context, the sizeable park is bordered by King Street West to the north and East Liberty Street to the south, Fraser Avenue to the west and Jefferson Avenue to the east. And it's not only the park being blocked off, but areas surrounding the park as well.
Toronto you really make it harder to justify living here everyday. These are people, and you need an ARMY to evict them? Instead of thinking of better solutions this is what we have? The Canadian shame train continues. @JohnTory @TorontoPolice https://t.co/o4zfNyZ3ve— just another Alex (@alexandersaint_) July 21, 2021
Onlookers are once again taking up issue with the city's heavy-handed approach to enforcing trespass notices to people living in parks, and wondering how much an operation like this must be costing taxpayers.
"Imagine waking up and thinking there was actual sound, moral grounds in forcing unhoused folks into even less safe/autonomous housing just so rich residents can avert their eyes from the horrors of wealth disparity and corporate and government created housing crisis," tweeted one local.
"This is Toronto."
The (second) clearing of the encampment at Lamport Stadium Park is ongoing, and the City of Toronto has stated that all individuals living there are being offered safe, indoor space, with access to meals, showers and laundry, harm reduction, physical and mental health supports, and a housing worker.
"Occupants will be given time to pack two bags of belongings to take with them. All other belongings will be collected and stored for up to 30 days for future pickup," reads a release from the city issued Wednesday morning. "There are more than 30 structures on-site, including tents and makeshift structures."
One of the city's prime stated reasons for dismantling this and other encampments is a high risk of fires, of which there have been 130 already this year within Toronto tent cities. Seven people have died as a result of encampment fires in Toronto since 2010.
Breaking: Another eviction this morning at Lamport stadium results in standoff between encampment supporters & large Police force @ESN_TO @blogTO@nowtoronto @adequatehousing @leilanifarha@FredrikGertten @Push_TheFilm #Encampment pic.twitter.com/acFpqUbv5z— Martin Reis (@BikeLaneDiary) July 21, 2021
The city also spoke to one of the reasons behind their intense security response in this morning's press release:
"City staff attempting to assist those experiencing homelessness are increasingly facing intimidation, threats and criminal harassment by advocates or protestors at encampments," reads the release. "This behaviour is unacceptable, and the City is committed to ensuring that employees are protected from harassment in the workplace."
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