arlier today the city of Toronto, Toronto police and corporate security forcibly removed an encampment on the east side of Lamport Stadium in Parkdale on King Street West and Jefferson Avenue.
Between 50 and 100 Encampment Support Network volunteers and supporters of the encampment residents staged a sit-in to try and prevent the destruction of the encampment by the city, but were violently pushed away and removed by TPS officers. At least two arrests were made.
City workers in hazmat suits dismantled the encampment, which included one blue tent and one structure.
At about 10:30am TPS officers and corporate security arrived at the west side of the park. Encampment Support Network volunteers attempted to start a dialogue with city workers, but were unsuccessful.
At about 12pm city workers and the TPS moved to the east side of the park. ESN volunteers and supporters formed a circle around the tent itself, as well as a bulldozer that the city brought in to take the encampment structure away.
When crossing a line of yellow danger tape put up by the TPS, one ESN supporter was violently thrown to the ground, handcuffed and arrested. ESN’s support lawyer asked TPS officers which station the supporter was being taken to, but they refused to offer any information.
Shortly after, another bulldozer drove up from King St. and made its way into the encampment. It was able to scoop up the structure, but as it backed down onto King St., encampment supporters blocked it from leaving for about 30 minutes. Then TPS officers became very violent and began pushing, kicking and hitting the supporters. One woman was dragged across the pavement by three TPS officers who kicked and hit her.
Another supporter was thrown to the ground and handcuffed while police kneeled on his back. Onlookers screamed at police to get off of him. His face was beet red and it seemed like he was in a lot of pain.
The city of Toronto posted eviction notices around the Lamport Stadium encampment on Friday, May 14. The city is urging residents to move into the hotel shelter system, but many residents are afraid to because of frequent COVID-19 outbreaks within the shelter system.
The Center for Disease Control’s website recommends allowing “people who are living unsheltered or in encampments to remain where they are,” if individual housing options are not available. It also says “[c]learing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread.”
As of 3pm it seems that the city of Toronto will hold off on evicting the remaining five to ten tents on the west side of Lamport Stadium today. We will be updating this story as it progresses.