Wild videos show police and protesters clashing at Toronto encampment
Things are turning violent at Toronto's Lamport Stadium Park this afternoon as city officials attempt to clear out yet another homeless encampment with help from police.
Lots and lots and lots of police.
Hundreds of TPS officers are currently present at the park just off King Street West — an area that has been completely fenced in for the purpose of enforcing trespass notices against 14 to 17 people experiencing homelessness.
do not look away — this is the violence in our city and chronic failure on housing as a human right. pic.twitter.com/sMdohQF6Un— Andrew Baback Boozary MD (@drandrewb) July 21, 2021
A sizeable number of protesters have arrived to support encampment residents and advocate for affordable housing.
They are not being allowed inside the fenced area, but many have been observing from outside and documenting things as they happen.
It hasn't been pretty.
Journalists, who yesterday were barred from covering another encampment eviction at Alexandra Park, have now been allowed into the fenced-off area to document the Lamport Stadium dismantling — and the stuff they're getting is wild.
these scenes are horrific.— Emma Jackson (@EmmaJackson57) July 21, 2021
truly, fuck every single cop who has not quit their job and is actively upholding an institution that is this violent and devoid of ANY and all humanity. https://t.co/rSsjB4YvAn
Things started off in a relatively peaceful manner early Wednesday morning, but by 1 p.m. had descended into complete chaos.
Barricades set up by demonstrators were torn down swiftly by cops.
Police quickly tore down the barricade set up pic.twitter.com/HleC5hYhS5— Katherine Ward (@KWardTV) July 21, 2021
Police have reportedly been pepper spraying attendees in an attempt to make the crowds disperse.
Pepper sprayed kinda sucks, y'all. 0/10 do NOT recommend. pic.twitter.com/fULOgm0CQu— Gru (@Gruesomebrat) July 21, 2021
Footage is also circulating widely of officers shoving people down and, in some cases, dragging them along the ground.
Pushing people toward the north side. Grotesque violence. I can't. I'm going to cry. pic.twitter.com/3xMLyUWTFM— Diana Chan McNally (@Diana_C_McNally) July 21, 2021
The Encampment Support Network reports that at least 25 people had been arrested as of 3 p.m. on Wednesday, and that at least one protester sustained a broken wrist from an encounter with the cops.
“Very charged” says @CourtHeelsCP24. Officers just pushed/broke up a group of demonstrators who locked arms around a tent (I pressed record about a second after that moment.) #topoli pic.twitter.com/uLhp4N3iQc— Cristina Tenaglia (@cristina_CP24) July 21, 2021
The Toronto Police Service issued a plea for calm on Twitter as the chaos was swelling, writing: "We've been on site w/ City of Toronto as they try to assist those living in the encampment w/ safer, more secure housing."
"Unfortunately, crowds of protestors have travelled to the park for the purpose of interfering w/ the city and have indicated they will be confrontational."
Horses and tactical units and pepper spray do not solve homelessness pic.twitter.com/Y1ySIFYHlW— Dr. Rima Berns-McGown (@beyrima) July 21, 2021
"As a result, we have pulled resources from other areas of the city in order to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Officers will lawfully enforce the Trespass to Property notice that has been repeatedly provided to those on site and, in most cases, ignored," tweeted police.
"We are asking anyone who is within the perimeter of the park to leave the park amicably and peacefully so we can help the City of Toronto get this job done with our city's most vulnerable."
At least one @TorontoPolice officer has been injured after being sprayed with an unknown substance at the Lamport encampment clearing. Protesters are refusing to leave the park despite trespass notices and cautions. An update on arrests will be provided later today. ^ams— Toronto Police Operations (@TPSOperations) July 21, 2021
Many citizens are livid nonetheless, once again questioning how much this massive operation costs, and whether or not there was a more compassionate way to relocate the encampment residents.
"This must stop. The actions taken in Lamport, yesterday in [Alexandra Park], and previously in [Trinity Bellwoods] escalated the situation needlessly," said City Councillor Mike Layton in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
"Directions from the city brought us to this point. This is not a compassionate and humane approach to housing. It's violence to make poverty invisible."
If the City of Toronto can spend taxpayer dollars on paramilitary operations with hundreds of police to violently evict a small # of people living in the Lamport Stadium encampments…they can also spend taxpayer dollars on providing affordable housing. pic.twitter.com/igOyJNx9Bd— Dr. Amit Arya (@AmitAryaMD) July 21, 2021
Mayor John Tory defended the dismantling in an update Wednesday afternoon, saying that the city was being "compassionate, but firm" and again pointing out that all individuals living in the encampment had been offered safe, indoor space, with access to meals, showers and various health supports.
Tory blamed the clash with police on protesters who showed up just to instigate.
"In some cases (city staff) have been literally obstructed from talking to the people experiencing homelessness because the protesters have decided that they know better than anything a Streets to Homes worker might say," said Tory.
"I can't say I find it acceptable because these are hard-working people trying to do their jobs."
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