Events led by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty always make for an exciting story, yesterday’s housing protest was no exception. The fun began at Alan Gardens park where OCAP members bribed about 200 useful idiots to show up with food, free bus tokens and a license to create mayhem on the streets of Toronto. It was the perfect anarchist Sunday.
The protest began peacefully at the park, revolutionary music was blasting through the PA system while OCAP’s cannon fodder lined up for free food. When everyone was finished eating they moved on to giving speeches, and the obligatory indigenous drummers. Many of the ‘usual suspects’ were present, but there was also an interesting new contingent of anarchists from Montreal.
The real fun began when they began to march…
They headed south out of the park and headed down the infamous George Street, likely the most depressed neighbourhood in Toronto. As they moved out the park the big purple CUPE flying squad bus followed behind them- this was interesting, as the stated purpose of the march was to commit a crime and setup an illegal camp. That said, this really wasn’t a surprise- there appear to be many CUPE locals supporting criminal activity.
The rabble paused for a short moment in front of Seaton House, one of the largest men’s shelters in the country. The anarchist chanted:
“1, 2, 3, 4, this is f##king class war! 5,6,7,8 Organize and smash the state!”
This was a good reminder that OCAP’s primary goal is quite different from their stated purpose of helping the poor. The reality is that the people who join their protests are mostly there for the food and entertainment- they have little to no idea they’re supporting anarchist and unionist revolutionaries. Sid Ryan of the Ontario Federation of Labour (one of OCAP’s main sponsors) is laughing all the way to the bank with his $300K+ salary.
Several people took a moment and hopped into George Street’s infamous anarchist house. When they came out they began harassing Undercoverkity and Your Humble Narrator. OCAP and the anarchists are scared to death that we’ve been reporting on their mayhem- they’ve tried everything they could to stop us including assault, slander, and trying to block our cameras. OCAP’s John Clarke is so nervous with our presence he once made an announcement to a group of TV camera’s that I’m insane and dangerous.
This sort of behaviour only strengthens our resolve to continue reporting…
After their chants for the
poor anti-capitalistism, the rabble next began marching east on Dundas street with the CUPE bus in tow. They turned left on Sherborne Street and the crowd slowed down for a moment as one of the OCAP members unlocked the gate of a privately owned empty lot. The CUPE bus came in very useful at this moment, the cops behind the crowd couldn’t see what was happening, and the officers in front of the crowd were too slow to stop them.
It took less than 2-3 minutes before people began to put up tents- and the occupation began. A couple minutes later Gary Wassaykeesic and Davin Ouimet climbed onto the roof of the house connected to the property, dropped a large OCAP banner and put up revolutionary indigenous flags. The police were clearly uncomfortable with this, they knew that both Wassaykeesic and Ouimet were out on bail- but, the cops took no action to arrest them for breaking and entering. Toronto is quickly on the path to becoming a lawless city.
As UndercoverKity and Your Humble Narrator began filming the occupation some anarchists, and a member of OCAP (who tried to stab me in March) came out and tried to block us. The anarchists came up to us with a large banner and began following us back-and-forth as we took our pictures. One of them came up to me and threatened that if I didn’t stop filming that she would break my camera. They then began following me with their banner until the police (after several complaints from me) told them they needed to stop.
A short while later UndercoverKity was filming in front of the gate of the empty lot when convicted G20 ringleader Alex Hundert shoved him onto a woman who was driving past on her electric wheelchair. Hundert has been increasingly aggressive since he was released from prison- he made similar attacks on Lawrence McCurry and Your Humble Narrator at the Sammy Yatim protests (also led by OCAP).
A couple of men showed up to talk to the police. They were workers who were hired to renovate the empty building on the lot to make it suitable to be used as a space for Single Room Occupancy apartments. They said that they noticed earlier in the day that they could no longer open the lock to the gate. Another person who walked by said that he saw a couple of people cutting off the lock and replacing it a few days earlier.
The son of the property owner showed up about three hours later and made it crystal clear to the police that they must remove OCAP from the property saying “I want to see them arrested now!”. We spoke to him for a few moments and explained who the people are who were trespassing on his property and he was shocked to hear that the police had let this group march onto his property unhindered. About 5 minutes into our conversation the police pulled him away from us- it appears they didn’t want him to understand how little they’ve been doing to enforce the law since the G20.
At about 10pm the police gave notice to the trespassers that they must leave the property or they would be arrested. Many of the rabble began to leave, but a few hardcore anarchists stayed and waited to be arrested. The cops blocked the gates to stop other people from entering- Cathy Walker of Occupy Toronto Livestream fame tried to get them to allow one person to get in saying “she’s Six Nations, this is her land!”. It’s hard to tell if Cathy knew she was full of it or if she’s simply ignorant- the Six Nations have zero claims on downtown Toronto. It’s also interesting to see her at another OCAP protest, as she has been quite publicly denouncing them on the Livestream.
When the police began to make arrests I went up to the front gate to film then. Alex Hundert showed up then, began shoving me around and doing everything he could to block my camera. I went up to a police officer who was watching and he responded saying “you can leave then and you’ll be safe”. This is the quality of policing we have in our city now- protesters can do whatever they please and feel free to bully people who are reporting on their actions.
John Clarke stated that the purpose of the protest was to get the city to begin expropriating the unused land across the city and to use it to build public housing. He used the property at 1495 Queen Street West as an example- unfortunately, its a much different situation. In that case there was a derrelict building that was falling apart- in this case, the building is in the process of being rennovated. There is an empty lot beside the building, but that’s an entirely different situation too.
The reality of yesterday’s protest is that the only think OCAP accomplished was blocking the workers from entering a building where they were building affordable housing- really, it’s the stupidest housing protest ever. But, also, as a local (long-term) resident explained to us, it’s madness to build more housing at that spot. The intersection of Sherborne and Dundas is one of the most poor, depressed, and drug ridden areas in Toronto. He explained to us that, because of the status of the neighbourhood, people placed to live there face a high risk of getting caught up into the culture of crime and drug consumption saying “it’s abusive to make people live there”.
OCAP’s only accomplishment last night was to halt the construction of low cost housing, waste police resources, and to get some of their supporters arrested. Nobody from the mainstream media showed up, so they ended up only talking to themselves. And, the people in the neighbourhood were generally less than impressed with their presence. Even if they were successful, it would result in housing people a dangerous drug-ridden neighbourhood.
In short, it was their stupidest protest ever…