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(en) Canada, TENT CITY - an international call for solidarity

From Mick <mickblack47@yahoo.com>
Date Fri, 27 Sep 2002 22:12:32 -0400 (EDT)


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> From: tdrc@on.aibn.com 
On Tuesday, September 24, 2002, Home Depot Canada sent a small army of
private security guards backed by a small army of Toronto police to
forcibly evict about 125 people from a homeless encampment on their unused
property in downtown Toronto, Canada.  Home Depot needs to be held in
account for its actions. Due to the urgency and seriousness of this
matter, please respond immediately to our international call for
solidarity and action against Home Depot.

Please find below, an action pack that includes:
1. Background guide (includes info on our demands and what you can do)
2. A tip sheet on how to organize your own information picket.
3. Sample text for flyer that can be distributed at your information
picket.

For formated copies of the materials, visit our website at www.tdrc.net.
Due to the urgency of this matter, please participate right
away in this international call for action against Home Depot!

Any questions, don't hesitate to give us a call at 416-599-8372 or email
tdrc@tdrc.net. Thanks.

Musonda
Toronto Disaster Relief Committee

***************************

1. BACKGROUND GUIDE: An International Call for Solidarity

Here's why - and how - you should take action against Home Depot.

On Tuesday, September 24, 2002, Home Depot Canada sent a small army of
private security guards backed by a small army of Toronto
police to forcibly evict about 125 people from a homeless encampment on
their unused property in downtown Toronto, Canada. The site,
known as Tent City, has been the home to Canada's largest homeless
encampment for several years. There were about 55 structures in
Tent City, most of them built by the residents. The Toronto Disaster
Relief
Committee has been working with residents for more than
two years. We moved several pre-fab homes onto the site, supplied portable
toilets, fireplaces and even showers. Just three days
before the raid, TDRC organized a clean-up day with 60 volunteers (from
university students to seniors) who worked alongside Tent
City residents to improve the site.

Home Depot has spent tens of thousands of dollars to move against the
homeless residents of Tent City. Within minutes of occupying
the site, they had erected a new, nine-metre high barbed wire fence, a new
security road around the perimeter and high-intensity search lights, not
to mention the private security staff and construction crews brought on
site. Home Depot removed the residents so quickly that they didn't have a
chance to gather medicine, identification or other personal items. It took
hours of intense pressure to arrange for residents to have access to their
homes and their belongings. And even then, access was very restrictive.
Home Depot has said that it will only guarantee to protect the dwellings
and belongings for seven days. And it made no plans for relocation of
the residents, not even for temporary shelter. After a great deal of
pressure from TDRC and others, the City of Toronto has made an
offer to help Tent City residents find proper housing. But Home Depot
offered no help at all.

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights says that "forced evictions
are a gross violation of human rights". The International Convenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which Canada has signed, guarantees
the right to housing. The International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, which Canada has also signed, says that everyone has the right to
be protected against "arbitrary or unlawful interference" with their
homes. The U.N. says that if people have to be moved, they should be given
enough notice so that they can prepare for the move, new homes at another
location and practical help in relocating.

Home Depot didn't do any of this. They spent a lot of money to throw 125
people who had been peacefully living in Tent City off the land without
any thought as to where they would go. Home Depot says that the site was
unsafe, but the streets of Toronto are even more dangerous. And there were
only 14 beds in homeless shelters in the entire city of Toronto
(population 2.4 million) on the night that the Tent City residents were
forcibly evicted - another sign of the city's overcrowded and unhealthy
shelter system.

Here's what Home Depot needs to do:

1. Treat Tent City residents with respect. They should have access to
their
dwellings. Their property and their homes should be protected - not
bulldozed after seven days. The portable structures may be moved. Home
Depot should help with transportation and storage. They should help
residents salvage as much as possible of the structures which cannot be
moved.

2. Acknowledge the error of their ways. Home Depot was wrong to evict the
residents without any notice and without any help in relocating. Home
Depot can make amends by offering $50,000 per unit in capital funding for
construction of 55 units of new social housing - the same number of units
that were on the Tent City site - for a total bill of $2.75 million.
That's small change for a company that boasted in May of 2002 that it had
"a record $5.2 billion in cash on the balance sheet". An apology is not
enough. Home Depot should pay.

3. Adopt the One-Percent Solution. A growing number of groups, including
socially responsible corporations, are calling on the Canadian government
to restore housing programs that were slashed in the 1980s and cancelled
in the 1990s. Home Depot should be an active partner in the One Percent
Solution, the campaign for a fully-funded national housing program.

You can make a difference:

The Toronto Disaster Relief Committee is calling on individuals and
community groups, unions, faith communities and all others in Canada and
the United States to join in a campaign against Home Depot. This is not a
boycott, although consumers of conscience may decide to shop elsewhere.
This is a mobilization to force Home Depot to take the specific actions
outlined above. The TDRC has already talked to senior officials at Home
Depot. But they need to feel community pressure before they will respond
seriously.

Some tips for action:

1. Contact Home Depot and tell them to meet our demands. Make sure to ask
for a response. Organize a letter-writing party in your neighbourhood,
union local or faith community. Send a letter directly to 

Annette Verschuren, President, Home Depot Canada, 
426 Ellesmere Road, 
Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, 
M1R 4E7. 

The telephone number is 416-609-0852 and follow the prompts to get to her
office. Or send a fax to 416-412-4215.

2. Organize a Homeless Depot solidarity group in your area and arrange for
an information picket of a local store. TDRC has tips for organizing an
action on our Web site, along with a flyer that you can copy and hand out
to customers.

3. If you are a customer of Home Depot, or know others who might be
personal or commercial customers, then contact the store to tell them that
you expect corporations to show social responsibility. Tell them that you
want them to take action on the basic demands.

Stay in touch:

Look for updates on the Homeless Depot action on the TDRC Web site at
www.tdrc.net. Call us at 416-599-8372. Send an e-mail to tdrc@tdrc.net. Or
write to Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, 6 Trinity Square, Toronto,
Ontario, Canada, M5G 1B1. Send us copies of any letters that you sent to
Home Depot. And make sure to send us copies of any replies that you
receive.


2. TIPS FOR ORGANIZING AN INFORMATION PICKET

Tips for organizing a Homeless Depot information picket

1. Look for a Home Depot store in your community. Check out the site. Most
stores won't allow information pickets on their property, but entrances to
parking lots can be effective places to hand out flyers. If you have
trouble with private security officers or police, call the Toronto
Disaster Relief Committee.

2. Round up a handful of supporters. You don't need a big crowd (although
the bigger the numbers, the less likely you will experience trouble from
security). Three or four people per parking lot entrance is enough.

3. Make up some picket signs with snappy slogans: Homeless Depot, honk if
you hate forced evictions, and so on. Check out our Web site for some
ideas. If your group, union local or faith community has a banner, bring
it along.

4. Download the information flyer from our Web site. Feel free to make
some
changes and add local contact information.

5. Pick a day for your event. You might want to send a news release to
local media. It's a good way to build support and get the message out.
Send a letter to the president of Home Depot Canada (with a copy to the
TDRC) explaining why you are picketing the store. Send a letter directly
to Annette Verschuren, President, Home Depot Canada, 426 Ellesmere Road,
Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, M1R 4E7. The telephone number is
416-609-0852 and follow the prompts to get to her office. Or send a fax to
416-412-4215.

6. Politely offer the flyers to customers as they come and go from the
store. Don't get into extended arguments with angry people. It just raises
everyone's blood pressure. Be prepared with a quick response when people
ask why you are there.

7. Local, provincial, state and national laws on information pickets and
trespassing can be different from area to area. If you have any doubts,
contact a local legal clinic or progressive lawyer. In most places, if you
are not blocking traffic and not on private property, then you have the
right to an information picket.

Stay in touch. Look for updates on the Homeless Depot action on the TDRC
Web site at www.tdrc.net. Call us at 416-599-8372. Send an e-mail to
tdrc@tdrc.net. Or write to Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, 6
Trinity Square, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5G 1B1.

Send us copies of any letters that you send to Home Depot. Make sure to
send us copies of any replies that you receive. And, please send us copies
of any newspaper clippings, if you manage to make some news in your area.


3. SAMPLE TEXT FLYER (Visit our website for formatted copies of this.)

<< side one >>

Home Depot didn't cause homelessness,
but they shouldn't make it even worse

On September 24, 2002, Home Depot ordered a small army of private security
guards, backed by a small army of police officers, to forcibly remove
about 125 homeless people from some unused property they own in Toronto,
Canada. The people lived peacefully in a community they called Tent City
for several years in 55 dwellings, most of which were built by the
residents. Home Depot - which boasts "a record $5.2 billion in cash on the
balance sheet" didn't give them any warning, they didn't offer any help in
relocating and they even tried to stop residents from collecting medicine,
identification or other personal belongings.

An apology is not enough. Home Depot should pay for the error of its ways.
The Toronto Disaster Relief Committee is calling on Home Depot to:

1. Treat Tent City residents with respect. Give them access to their
dwellings. Protect their property and their homes. Help them move or store
portable structures. Help residents salvage the homes that cannot be
moved.

2. Acknowledge the error of their ways. Home Depot should make amends by
offering $50,000 per unit in capital funding for construction of 55 units
of new social housing - the same number of units that were on the Tent
City site - for a total bill of $2.75 million.

3. Adopt the One-Percent Solution. A growing number of groups, including
socially responsible corporations, are calling on the Canadian government
to restore housing programs that were slashed in the 1980s and cancelled
in the 1990s. Home Depot should be an active partner in the One Percent
Solution, the campaign for a fully-funded national housing program.

<< side two >>

Tired of big corporations that push around poor people?
Here's what you can do. . .

Tell Home Depot that, as a customer, you expect them to be a good
corporate
citizen. And that means treating homeless people fairly.

You can make a difference - if you raise your voice!

When you shop in a local store, tell the clerk, the store manager or other
employees about your concern regarding the company's actions in Toronto.
And ask the employee to pass those concerns along to the Canadian head
office in Toronto.

Send a letter directly to Annette Verschuren, President, Home Depot Canada,
426 Ellesmere Road, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, M1R 4E7. The telephone
number is 416-609-0852 and follow the prompts to get to her office. Or
send a fax to 416-412-4215.

For more information about the Homeless Depot campaign, you can log onto
the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee Web site at www.tdrc.net. Call us at
416-599-8372. Send an e-mail to tdrc@tdrc.net. Or write to Toronto
Disaster Relief Committee, 6 Trinity Square, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5G
1B1. Send us copies of any letters that you sent to Home Depot. And make
sure to send us copies of any replies that you receive.

Or contact << add local contact information here >>

******************************************
Toronto Disaster Relief Committee
6 Trinity Square, Toronto, ON M5G 1B1
Phone: 416-599-8372, Fax: 416-599-5445
NEW EMAIL: tdrc@tdrc.net
NEW WEBSITE: www.tdrc.net


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