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(en) Canada, Toronto, OCAP* Thursday, June 2nd PRESS ADVISORY: HOMELESS DEATH WITHIN STONE’S THROW OF 558 GERRARD - Speak Out Friday

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 3 Jun 2004 07:17:05 +0200 (CEST)

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Speak Out Friday, June 04, 2004 11.00 AM Outside the ‘Gatekeeper Squat’
558 Gerrard Ave Broadview and Gerrard
This morning, a homeless man died within yards of an empty building at 558
Gerrard – the house that Dennis Mills, MP, pretended to lay his job on the line
over by promising to see it opened as housing last winter. Mills has shamefully
failed, and this spring alone, 10 people living on the streets have died.
This latest tragedy highlights a shocking lack of government interest in
even opening up one empty building, let alone reversing the massive wave
of social abandonment the Liberals have presided over since 1993. If talk
is cheap, then Mills´ promises are utterly worthless.

Brutal social cutbacks to unemployment insurance, welfare systems and
housing programs have created a homeless crisis that continues to claim
lives and spread misery. During this election campaign, we are seeing
politicians of all stripes debate this grim reality and throw blame at
each others’ feet. What we know is that people continue to die, and
promises of housing are easily made and broken.

While the current federal Liberal regime has led the pack in setting the
national direction in this regard, at this very moment, an NDP Mayor of
Toronto is evicting homeless people from the places of refuge they have
established and has made no moves to begin refurbishing empty buildings in
this city despite campaign promises. Clearly blame for homeless deaths
rest on all levels of government and politicians from every party campaign
with blood on their hands.

On Friday, we shall be delivering an ultimatum. Work crews must be sent
into 558 Gerrard - or an equivalent site - without delay or we will go in
to start the job ourselves!

Speak Out
Friday, June 04, 2004
11.00 AM
Outside the ‘Gatekeeper Squat’
558 Gerrard Ave
Broadview and Gerrard

Bathurst St. Bridge Residents Evicted, Spadina and Gardiner Residents Next

On Thursday May 27th, people living under the Bathurst Street Bridge
watched their homes bulldozed and destroyed by a large crew of city
workers, flanked by police from numerous downtown police divisions. What
was once a small community is now surrounded by tall fencing. As well,
OCAP has now learned that more of the same is set to take place, as
residents living under the Gardiner Expressway were told by the police
last night 'you are next'. The notices of eviction from the City of
Toronto are to be posted as early as next week. Contrary to rumours being
aired, the City offered no concrete solutions to the people evicted today,
no rent supplements or housing alternatives were put forward - we can only
expect more of the same. This City government has a choice whether or not
to uphold by-laws which target and criminalize the poor, and as of now,
their choice is the wrong one.

Three important conclusions must be drawn from these sickening
developments. Firstly, all the excuses and explanations offered by
Miller's functionaries to justify these acts of social cleansing are
nonsense and the real reason for them is crystal clear. The development
industry has plans for the centre of the City that the homeless and poor
are standing in the way of. A central Toronto that is dominated by
commercial and residential development has no room for poor neighbourhoods
or the visibly homeless. People are to be pushed out to the fringes of
the City, forced into 24 hour hostels or, if all else fails, put in jail.
This social cleansing agenda is behind the present spate of forced
removals of homeless people seeking to establish places for themselves to

The second lesson we must draw is that David Miller, the pseudo reformer,
is as ready to serve the needs of the developers and persecute the
homeless as was Mel Lastman, the overt conservative. For the people
driven out from the Bathurst Bridge, it makes very little difference that
the cops doing the dirty work were taking their orders from a card
carrying member of the NDP! Miller has a great capacity for progressive
rhetoric and even staffs his office with an ex-union activist but he is
just as ready to disperse homeless as the man he replaced.

Lastly, these attacks can only be stopped if we mobilize to fight back.
The eviction at the Bathurst Bridge could not, in the end be stopped, but
it was delayed by people living there, supported by OCAP and others taking
a stand. For 6 months the City has been sending cops and employees
under the bridge to threaten eviction but have backed down when we've
showed it won't happen quietly. The larger sweeps that are being prepared can
be turned back if homeless people and those who stand with them are ready to
make the political price higher than Miller is ready to pay.

That people are homeless in this wealthy City is an obscenity. That their
efforts to band together and create the best places of refuge they can
must unfold in a climate of mounting harassment is doubly sick. Stand
with the homeless and fight the social cleansers and their representatives
at City Hall.


On Saturday, May 29th at 4pm, people will gather for a meal at the site of
the next impending eviction, where homes have been built. Come out to
lend a hand and show support for the community of people who are refusing
to back down in the face of the City's anti-poor by-law enforcement.

Meal under the Gardiner
Meet at Bathurst Street Bridge
(Bathurst, just north of Lakeshore, westside)
4 pm
Saturday May 29th, 2004

We will be moving to the site of the next potential eviction at Gardiner
and Spadina.

More on the Mayor and City officials to follow.


Backgrounder on Bathurst St. Bridge Eviction

The future of the Bathurst St. Bridge residents had been hanging in the
balance since communication with the City began last December. An
agreement had subsequently been made by Mayor David Miller and city
officials to meet with residents and OCAP representatives before any
eviction orders were to be carried out. However, no such meeting took
place and the community of people who have made their homes under the
Bathurst Street Bridge were "notified" last Friday by signs posted nearby
that Toronto city officials and police were set to enforce the imminent
eviction on Wednesday. When the eviction did not take place yesterday, a
large group of residents and supporters went to Miller's office at City
Hall, where Sean Goetz-Gadden, the Mayor's representative, piled nonsense
on top of double-speak as he tried to justify the so-called
"compassionate" mayor sending police after people who have done nothing
except try to survive in a city plagued by a brutal housing crisis and
lack of services. Goetz-Gadden said that no meeting with residents was
possible, that no compromise was available and that the eviction order
stood. He tried to lay blame on the construction company, and then on
city by-law officers, and when it all pointed back at Miller in the end, he
declared the meeting over and retreated behind locked doors into the
Mayor's inner sanctum. And today the City went ahead.

Using the pretense of the demolition of an adjacent building slated to
take place later this month, a city crew under the supervision of Barry
Chavell, By-Law Enforcement Supervisor, backed by dozens of cops,
demolished the homes under the Bridge. In communication with Carolyn
Adams of Marshall Macklin Monaghan, the consultant firm involved in the
demolition, OCAP representatives had been told residents would not be at
all affected by this construction. The forcible removal of people and
subsequent destruction of their homes and belongings was not at the
request of the construction crew. Instead, the orders came from a City of
Toronto By-Law Enforcement office, backed by direct communication from
Miller himself. This eviction was also purportedly due to the Bremner St.
expansion, even though development of the disputed land is not scheduled
for 3-10 years.

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
10 Britain St. Toronto, ON M5A 1R6
416-925-6939 ocap@tao.ca www.ocap.ca
* [Ed. Note: OCAP is an antiauthoritarian social struggle
direct action initiative.]

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