Monday, June 04, 2007

Police Commit Violence Against Women

UPDATE:

The best place to find out more is, of course, the Women Against Poverty blog. They have a few pics of the action, some links to coverage in the dominant media, and a quote from the Hansard of the House of Commons, in which local MP Olivia Chow gives the action favourable mention.

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A collective in Toronto called Women Against Poverty occupied an unused building and demanded government action on affordable housing, subsidized childcare, raising social assistance rates, and other things.

According to one email I received there were over 400 supporters at the action at its peak. The police arrested four of the women who had occupied the building and "not being content to evict the squatters, the cops went on to attack a peaceful group of supporters who were standing on the other side of the street, charging into the crowd on horseback over and over again. Clearly they wanted to eliminate all visible signs of this protest as fast as they could, and to hell with the safety of participants."

Here is a release for a media conference that will be happening later today -- it will address the violence against women committed by the police at yesterday's action as well as the ongoing state support for other forms of violence against women and the kinds of changes in housing and welfare policies that will be necessary to make a real difference in this deplorable situation:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2007

WOMEN AGAINST POVERTY DEMAND GOVERNMENT ACTION ON HOUSING


Toronto – On Sunday June 3rd, hundreds of women, trans people and their allies marched through the streets of Toronto to 4 Howard Street, one of hundreds of buildings in this city that have been allowed to sit empty and deteriorate until they fall down or must be torn down. Four Women Against Poverty Collective members had already entered the building, claiming it for affordable housing for women by women. We erected a tent city in support of the women inside, but several hours into our peaceful gathering, police used excessive force to move us - giving little or no warning before aggressively clearing our demonstration, and using horses to push women into small confined spaces, creating a very unsafe situation.

Speakers will address the police response as well as the following demands:

• We call on Mayor Miller and City Council to force developers to create safe affordable housing when they: ask for zoning variances, don’t pay their taxes, or allow their buildings to fall apart.

• We call on Premier McGuinty to immediately raise social assistance rates by 40% and to develop a coherent, well-funded province–wide housing policy that has timelines, clear number of units to be built, and accountability components included.

• We call on Prime Minister Harper to develop a coherent, well-funded Canada–wide housing policy and program, and to devote 1% of the federal budget to affordable housing.

Too many survivors of violence and their kids are stuck in shelters, unsafe housing, or abusive homes because they have no place to live. Homeless women face violence every day on the streets. We will continue to demonstrate for change until it happens.

WHAT: Media Conference and Community Meal
WHEN: Monday June 4th, 12 Noon
WHERE: 519 Church St. Community Centre
WHO: Women Against Poverty Collective (WAPC)

The Women Against Poverty Collective is a group of women and trans people who are working together to advocate for safe, affordable and accessible housing for women experiencing violence.

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3 comments:

Scott said...

Ooops...forgot to put in the URL for the link to the press release on the WAP blog...the post has now been edited to fix that.

As well, the original announcement for the action received attention here and here, so there may end up being material on those sites with follow-up as well.

Polly Jones said...

I think it was great that occupying a building was part of their protest. I wonder how they got in...

Scott said...

I don't know for sure, but I think some of the women involved with the group are part of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), which has developed some expertise over the years around the (ahem) practical details of setting up a squat...