Metro Hall under siege
Metro Hall is "under siege".
That was the rallying cry from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty on the steps of Metro Hall Thursday night, just after police packed up their make-shift homeless shelter inside.
OCAP & their supporters set up camp in Metro Hall's rotunda Thursday morning, demanding the space be converted into a temporary shelter to lessen the burden on the city's existing facilities. It was done in 1999 when bed occupancy was at 90%.
About 40 demonstrators stuck around after being told by city security, then police to clear out around 9:30pm.
Those who chose to stay were escorted out by 2 police officers & ticketed for trespassing. A handful of people resisted arrest & had to be dragged or carried out of the encampment. All the while, demonstrators chanted slogans like "No more deaths", "Fight to win", "Shelter beds now", "Housing now" & "Beds not arrests"
Afterward, demonstrators said being arrested was a small personal sacrifice to make if it would help keep homeless people from dying on the streets.
John Clarke with OCAP suggests this sort of scene will continue to play out at Metro Hall saying the city can either "give it or they can guard it. But they are no more going to be in a situation where it's business as usual in Metro Hall."
The group has vowed to return next Thursday & has a feast & rally for the homeless in the works.
The mayor has rejected OCAP's suggestion that the shelter system is in crisis. On Thursday, Rob Ford insisted no one is turned away if they look to a shelter for a place to sleep. He adds that on any given night, a hundred of Toronto's shelter beds are empty.