lamport stadium park

John Tory shares strong feelings about protesters at Toronto encampment evictions

In the wake of yet another tumultuous and violent tent encampment eviction in a Toronto green space, Mayor John Tory has some words for protesters who turned up to try and stop city officials and police.

The scene at Lamport Stadium on Wednesday was notably more dramatic than yesterday's city action at a similar encampment in Alexandra Park, and even the one at Trinity Bellwoods late last month, which people were furious about and which led to criticisms of the city's heavy use of police.

As after the Bellwoods ordeal, Tory has spoken out against demonstrators who were present at Lamport today, saying that the ramped up police presence was due to an excessive number of protesters compared to the homeless residents and city staff trying to get them into alternative housing situations.

"These are public servants who are doing their jobs and they're very compassionate, professional people who are trying to engage in [a] very delicate task," Tory said during a press briefing today.

"They have been followed home, they've been harassed at their homes, they've faced all kinds of verbal abuse, the likes of which most people would never be expected to put up with in their jobs, from, frankly, the protesters."

He added that streets-to-homes workers were continually physically blocked from talking to residents experiencing homelessness during the clearings, making the task more difficult (which is the protesters' goal, ostensibly).

"[We're] trying to help the people experiencing homelessness by putting them in a place where they can get more supports, and also establish the principle that public parks are not places people can legally, safely or in a healthy way live and that everybody is entitled to the use of those parks," Tory explained, standing by the fact that the City's efforts to rehouse people are legal, compassionate and firm.

Video footage from the scene today shows a less-than-compassionate situation between protesters and police — regardless of who instigated the conflict — with shocking footage of physical run-ins between activists and authorities abounding on social media.

As in earlier encampment dismantlings, the city is facing censure for not only trying to remove homeless residents living in parks in the first place, but for its methods of doing so.

After the Bellwoods incident, Toronto Police Service stated that "protestors outnumbered encampment residents, creating an increasingly unstable and unsafe environment for them and for city staff," which necessitated a slew more officers than expected to de-escalate.

The force reiterated the same point today during the action at Lamport, tweeting that it "pulled resources from other areas of the city in order to ensure the safety of everyone involved." Multiple arrests ensued in both evictions.

Last month, Tory had referred to those residents who attempt to stop encampment clearings as "people who are trying to make a statement" and said the cop and security guard numbers were simply a response to "hundreds of people who showed up and involved themselves who were not the people experiencing homelessness that we were trying to help."

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