Toronto cops unleash pepper spray all over crowd outside police station
For the second time in less than a day, video footage exploded across social media last night of Toronto police officers shooting pepper spray into the eyes of civilians.
Only this time, the melee took place right outside a police station — specifically TPS 14 Division on Dovercourt Street between Dundas and College.
A large fleet of cops had been at the park in Liberty Village all day to help City of Toronto staff remove people experiencing homelessness and their belongings from the public space — which, as we've seen before, can prove difficult thanks to advocates arriving en masse to protest the evictions.
"Throughout the day, officers were on site and assisted the City where needed. Crowds of protesters gathered at the closed park to interfere with the City's efforts and confront police," wrote the Toronto Police Service in a release Wednesday night announcing the 26 arrests.
"Repeated efforts were made to engage with people and explain to them that a Trespass to Property notice had been served and they were required to leave. These efforts were largely ignored and the crowds became confrontational and hostile."
hi this is me and the cops beat the shit out of me and threw my whole body on one final blow and knocked my head backwards onto a curb, giving me a concussion https://t.co/80C1FpuKW2— auntie dialectical behaviour therapy (@antidialectic) July 22, 2021
Police say that resources had to be drawn from other areas of the city to "ensure the safety of everyone at the site" and the public in general.
"As a last resort, and in partnership with City staff, officers carried out enforcement, responding proportionately and using minimal force," reads the release. "Objects were thrown at police, an officer was spat at, while an unknown noxious substance was also sprayed at police. As a result, three officers suffered injuries."
I was arrested earlier today for taking a picture of Toronto Police at Lamport Stadium using the sort of tactic that according to the Toronto Police department they don't use. pic.twitter.com/hSChRgPT0m— Jay Watts (@canto_general) July 21, 2021
Needless to say, the cops weren't pleased with the behaviour of protesters at the Lamport Stadium encampment yesterday. Protesters were similarly outraged over the 26 arrests (made for offences including obstruction, trespassing, assault with a weapon and assaulting a peace officer.)
Not long after the encampment situation had been brought under control, activists began gathering outside 14 Division and demanding that their friends (the ones who had been arrested) be released immediately.
By 6 p.m. a large crowd had formed, obstructing traffic from getting through as they chanted and held up protest signs in front of the police station.
Police announced around 6:30 p.m. that "crowd control" was in progress and that officers were on scene to "keep the peace." Here's what that looked like:
Police pepper spraying and beating protestors with batons at division 14 who were trying to get friends out pic.twitter.com/EG9eXoB4ci— Toronto Tiny Shelters (@TorTinyShelters) July 21, 2021
Tensions flared between protesters and police, who formed a wall in front of the station.
Toronto Police report that "crowd members threw projectiles at officers including soup cans and frozen bottles."
We have taken over the streets. Left 14 division where they brought police from other divisions to brutalize us. They pepper sprayed people in front of 14 division . We are marching through the streets so people know the police with the permission of the Mayor trying to kill us! pic.twitter.com/8LLhhxjd3e— Beverly Bain (@BeverlyBain13) July 21, 2021
At least one police officer was reportedly injured at the scene, and three more individuals were arrested at the post-protest protest on Dovercourt Street.
In the end, the group moved to protest elsewhere against the actions of police at the Lamport Stadium encampment and all previous encampments where large shows of force were on display.
"White supremacy lives here. 14 Division massing for a small handful of people waiting for friends and community," wrote one protester sharing a photo from outside the station just before 11 p.m.
"There are literally more cops there than people they're defending the building from."
Just rode by 14 Division on way home. Endless resources. Endless money. Huge police bus parked on Dundas. No elected official can control - all say are arms length. But endless resources in supposedly cash strapped city. pic.twitter.com/2dTKBYq9UC— Three Geese Radius (@shawnmicallef) July 22, 2021
"And they are paying these guys how much? Maybe they should be doing real work like solving crimes and catching the shooters etc.," wrote one Twitter user in response to an image of the post-protest scene.
"I'm all for adequate and efficient policing but this looks like a reason to take a hard look at the budget," remarked another similarly.
"Are there no criminals to catch?"
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