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From OCAP <ocap@tao.ca>
Date Wed, 12 Nov 2003 08:31:41 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
http://ainfos.ca/ http://ainfos.ca/index24.html

(Note about Housing Rally at the Liberal Party Convention at bottom)
During last Saturday's successful OCAP action to reclaim abandoned
housing for the homeless, a new and terrifying police tactic was
introduced. As you will see from the statement below by Jeff Shantz, the
Police decided to try and intimidate those exercising their right to
protest by threatening the removal of their children.
A concerted effort was made to take away the two-year-old son of Jeff
and his partner, PJ Lilley, and to involve child services in this vile
process. At least one other parent at the same action was told to leave
the scene or have her small child taken away from her. That these tactics
failed was entirely due to the courage of the parents involved and the
support of others at the event.

Poor people with limited access to childcare have as much right to
assemble and express dissent as anyone else. The slanderous notion that
people who seek to involve their children in something as noble and
important as social struggle are "unfit parents" is something that can't
be tolerated or legitimized.

The Police respond to legitimate and necessary attempts to resist
poverty with massive displays of force. Having created such an
environment, they then use it to try and remove the right of poor families
to stand up and fight back.


During the OCAP housing action on Saturday November 8, Toronto police
officers abducted my 2-1/2-year-old son, Saoirse. Shortly after the march
arrived at 558 Gerrard Street East to open the "Gatekeeper Squat," police
attacked the child's mother, violently snatching Saoirse right off of her
shoulders. When I attempted to stop this kidnapping in process, I was
surrounded by officers who refused to let me retrieve my child, even after
I had given identification showing that I was the father. After a tense
stand-off, one officer told me, in the chilling language of a kidnapper,
that, "The only way you will EVER get your child back is to get into one
of our cars." When I got into the back seat of the police vehicle, rather
than being allowed to leave with my son, the door was slammed shut and
locked behind us and we were driven away. At this point it was quite
clear that an abduction was underway. At no point was I told, despite
repeated requests, why we were being held or where we were being taken.
When the car came to a stop around the corner from the squat, at Broadview
and Gerrard, I demanded to be released from the vehicle, since I was not
being charged, to take my baby back to his food and essentials. It was at
that stop that I heard the call come across the police radio ordering all
officers to withdraw from the premises of 558 Gerrard East since they had
no jurisdiction over the property at that point. This made clear that the
police had no authority to stop people from approaching the property at
the time that Saoirse's mom was attacked and arrested.

The officer refused my request to be released and instead drove me and
Saoirse to 51 Division where two calls were put in to get child services
ready to take us, and thus legalize the police kidnapping. When I refused
to go into the building two additional officers were sent out to "escort"
us in. I still refused to enter the station since I had not been charged
with anything and the reason for our being held had never been stated.
At this point one of the officers who had come to escort us inside grabbed
me violently by the arm and wrenching it shoved me against the car. I
ended up with a badly sprained ankle that has required medical attention.
The officer was not even phased by the fact that I was still holding
Saoirse during this attack. When the officer continued the rough
treatment I realized that things would not end well for me and Saoirse
unless I got some help. Luckily right at the moment that I started
shouting for help a passerby happened on the scene and came over to see
what was going on. In response, the officer who had assaulted me told me
that he was going to charge me with "causing a disturbance" for my calls
for help. He then proceeded to shove me again. When I objected to this
assault, the officer looked at his colleague and said, "You didn't see
anything, did you?" Sensing that with the witness present this might be
my only chance to avoid complete capture by child services, I clarified
that I had not been charged with anything and then turned and walked away
with Saoirse in my arms. Thankfully we were not pursued. I have
absolutely no doubt that had the passerby not arrived at the very moment
he did I would have been further assaulted and Saoirse would have been
fully captured by child services.

Clearly the Toronto Police will stop at nothing to protect private
property and profit-making interests in this city. That they would abduct
and traumatize a child in full view of several hundred people and
reporters from major media outlets shows again that this is a force that
is viciously out of control after years of indulgence from Queen's Park
and City Hall. Police in this city have come to believe that they can get
away with pretty much anything. At least one other parent has come
forward to say that right after my son was abducted, an officer threatened
to take her child if she didn't leave the demonstration immediately.

Still, this is not solely about police violations of civil liberties at
demonstrations. The violence the police inflicted on my family on
November 8, is the same violence they inflict regularly on poor children
and their parents in neighbourhoods across Toronto.

While some might like to argue that a demonstration is not a safe place
for children, it might be more appropriate to ask if, when it comes to the
Toronto Police, there is any safe place in this city for poor children and
their parents?

We cannot allow the police to target children and their parents in the
streets, in our neighbourhoods or in our homes. We must assert our right
to stand with our children publicly in our communities and to raise our
voices with our children.

Jeff Shantz, November 10


FRIDAY, NOV. 14th at 11 a.m., Grange Park
(behind the Art Gallery of Ontario (at Beverly St., north of Queen St.)
March to the Toronto Metro Convention Centre at Front and John St.

On Friday, Nov. 14th at the Metro Convention Centre in downtown Toronto,
it's almost a given that Paul Martin will be chosen as the new leader of
the Liberal Party and the next Prime Minister of Canada.

Join the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, Homelessness Action Group and
FRAPRU (a housing advocacy group in Quebec) in a march and rally outside
the convention centre, where we plan to build a house and unveil the
latest report card on how little affordable housing has been built across
Canada in the last year.

Come out, bring your friends, family and co-workers and join us in
reminding Paul Martin that 13 years ago he condemned the Conservative
government for the homelessness crisis and the lack of funding for
affordable housing. And then spent the last eight years in government
doing virtually nothing.

Homelessness is at a crisis and no one should have to spend another
winter in the cold. Canada needs a National Affordable Housing Program
and $2 Billion a year in funding. That's the message we want Paul Martin
to hear...
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
NEW ADDRESS!: 10 Britain St. Toronto, Ontario M5A 1R6
416-925-6939 ocap@tao.ca www.ocap.ca

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