City of Toronto officials and police officers violently cleared out a homeless encampment at Lamport Stadium, arresting a number of protestors.
The city-ordered dismantling of the encampment began in the afternoon, with numerous police officers clashing with protestors who created makeshift barricades using pallets around the tents. Many of the protestors also formed human chains, which were broken up by police.
The removal quickly turned violent, as police in tactical gear, armed with batons began removing protestors. Screams were heard as a number of them were forced to the ground and arrested.
The recent encampment clearings come after the city issued trespass notices last month, warning encampment residents they would be removed or face fines of up to $10, 000. In a press release, the city estimated between 14 and 17 people live at Lamport Stadium and stated they would be offered indoor housing. They stated that they would be supporting the individuals by providing COVID-19 vaccinations, focusing on additional infection prevention and control (IPAC) measures in shelters, implementing a COVID-19 rapid testing program for new shelter residents, and providing access to housing workers.
The city has cited serious health outcomes for people who live outside and the risk of fires as some of the reasons for the encampment removal. There have been 130 fire-related issues in encampments so far in 2021.
By 2 p.m., police had completely cleared the site, having forcibly evicted those who wouldn’t leave.
The police also allegedly threatened to punch reporters covering the scene if they “got in the way.” The chair of the Canadian Association of Journalists called for the city to stop arresting journalists in a tweet.
While the number of arrests has not yet been verified by police, Encampment Support Network Toronto tweeted that over 25 protestors had been arrested.
The dismantling of the Lamport encampment took place a day after another ordered encampment removal by the city at Alexandra Park, where nine people were arrested. Last month, the city was widely criticized for the amount of force used to clear an encampment at Trinity Bellwoods.