Occupy Toronto marches downtown, calling to "evict Ford"
As eviction deadline approaches, Occupy Toronto activists take to the streets.
Some 2,000 protesters took to the streets of Toronto on Saturday in support of Occupy Toronto’s ‘Evict Rob Ford’ campaign, marching to City Hall to push their cause.
Mayor Ford has issued an eviction notice for those who are currently living in tents at St. James Park on Church Street. Occupy Toronto won an injunction against the eviction until Monday, when Superior Court Justice David Brown will decidewhether or not to uphold the city’s eviction.
Toronto police sergeant Mike Josifovic said that even if the judge allows the eviction to go through, the protesters don’t have to leave the park. “It’s just the tents that have to come down,” said Josifovic, adding that the protesters can stay if they want to.
It's not clear what the protesters will do.
“Hell, no, we won’t go!” protesters chanted as they marched from St. James Park through downtown Yonge Street, with police officers keeping a close distance.
Nearing City Hall, many members of the crowd started playing percussion and dancing to the rhythm of the drums.
Jeremy Burry, a participant in Occupy Toronto and a B.C. native, says that he will stay at the park as long as he can. “I am going to stand my ground if the cops come to get me,” he said.
Mark Calzavara, with the Council of Canadians, said that the Council is supporting Occupy Toronto in order to increase awareness of social-justice issues and reduce the gap between the rich and poor.
“There is so much injustice going on,” said Calzavara. “There is more and more control going to corporate power and corporate influence, and the Occupy movement is an amazing backlash against that.”
Brian Young, protesting against Ford’s policies, said that for the first time with the Occupy movement, he has a “hope for the future.”
“It’s pretty depressing to see how people like Mr. Ford, and I hate to say, to a certain extent even [U.S.] President Obama knuckling under the pressure of big businesses,” he said.
Young said that he doesn’t like Ford’s attitude towards spending. “He says the city has to cut to survive. And we don’t. .. We need to fund the agencies that make this a wonderful city to live in.”
Rosie Da Silva, a member of Toronto’s Tenants for Social Housing, said that she joined the march to speak out against Ford’s “right-wing agenda.”
Tenants for Social Housing was formed in April 2011 to oppose Ford’s plan to privatize many social housing projects across Toronto. Da Silva said that as many as 700 homes are going to be sold, which affects the lives of nearly 2,000 people living in social housing.
“He’s selling our homes to the highest bidder,” she said, “and they will buy our homes and we will be evicted ... They’ll throw us out. It flies in the face of sensible urban planning, and it flies in the face of integrated neighbourhoods.”
Stefonkee Wolscht, one of the occupiers at St. James Park, said that he is tired of Ford’s policies. “We will not stand for this anymore,” said Wolscht.
“We are marching out into the streets to take back our city. We’re here to evict Rob today!”
Justice Brown had initially set Saturday as to the day by which to make a decision on Occupy Toronto’s eviction notice, but will now announce his decision on Monday at 9 a.m.