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Toronto Police and housing coalition battle on Twitter over arrest at encampment

A debate over Toronto Police charges stemming from the recent dismantling of several encampments in the city has boiled over on Twitter.

The police crackdown on encampments over the summer were widely criticized for being heavy-handed and violent.

But the battle on Twitter stems from an arrest, one of nine, made on July 20 at a tent encampment at Alexandria Park.

The Toronto Coalition for Housing, a coalition of housed and unhoused anti-poverty organizers, housing advocates and city residents, posted on Twitter that the "first of the criminal charges around encampment clearings has been dropped, as of this am."

The post showed a photo of a person known as Gru being arrested on July 20.

Toronto Police Services took issue with the post and quickly fired back, stating: "Fact Check: He wasn't criminally charged in relation to encampments & so there were no encampment charges to be withdrawn. On July 20/21, he was removed from Alexandra Pk for trespassing. It was then learned he was wanted on 3 outstanding criminal warrants and he was arrested."

Many people took issue with Toronto Police Service's Tweet.

"In what universe can a resident be TRESPASSING IN A PUBLIC PARK?? what utter nonsense," one person wrote.

"So you're telling me that those open warrants were just sitting there all this time he has attended events less heated than the encampment actions, where officers were also present, and you suddenly decide to execute those warrants on the day of the encampment clearings?" one person asked.

But several others also sided with the police.

"Thank you for clarifying. Not always easy to figure out this messy stuff!" one person said.

In the midst of the debate, Gru spoke out about the arrests and the charges. He says the outstanding warrant was a Fail to Appear for a Mischief Under $5,000 charge from three years ago.

He adds that he understood the case was resolved.

The decision to take this argument to Twitter is also being criticized.

As the debate rages on, Toronto residents can hopefully get some answers soon. Recently, Toronto's Ombudsman Kwame Addo launched an investigation into the City of Toronto's clearing of encampments from some of the city's parks.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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