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Downtown East residents and community organizations say, “TAVIS is not welcome in our neighbourhood

June 16, 2014

Residents and community organizations held a press conference to demand an end to police sweeps in the Downtown East, to stop police harassment of those who live here and to let the police know that they are not going to let them roam the streets with impunity. Their patrols will be monitored and their abuses challenged.

Toronto – Today, a group of concerned residents and community allies held a press conference to address growing concerns about increased police presence in the Downtown East. Between June 16 and September 8, the area between Wellesley and Queen, Church and Parliament will be the focus of a summer-long police sweep, involving dozens of officers and organized under the auspices of the Toronto Anti Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS). Studies show that initiatives like TAVIS result in increased police violence, racial profiling, harassment, search and seizures and unnecessary ticketing of poor people.

Community members chose the corner of Dundas and Sherbourne to hold their press conference because it is an area that is already over-policed and yet, the Toronto Police Services fails to protect or inform poor residents of violent crime. In September 2013 a women was sexually assaulted – by two separate men – steps away from this corner and the police failed to alert the community or use its multi-million dollar budget to find the perpetrators.

Long-time residents of the neighbourhood, many of who are poor and under housed, feel that the police are not here to protect them, but rather that this is a campaign of police repression as part of an ongoing effort to gentrify, a.k.a ‘revitalize’ this area through the process of social cleansing and is an effort to push poor people and services out of the neighbourhood. Frank Coburn, a resident and member of the Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance, says ‘Rampaging police officers will not be in the interest of public safety. If anything, the opposite is true’.

Gaetan Heroux, a longtime activist and historian in the DTE community says “The issues facing people in this neighbourhood are not really about policing, they are about poverty. People here don’t have enough money to pay their rent or feed themselves and their families. After two decades of targeting policing we can clearly see that this latest influx of cops in the DTE is just another cruel response to poverty.”

Concerned residents have even formed their own cop-watch in the neighbourhood, as an ad-hoc measure designed to help keep residents safe from the violence that police turn a blind eye to and to keep an eye on the cops themselves.


Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
157 Carlton St #206
Toronto, ON
M5A 2K3
Twitter: @OCAPtoronto

For more information contact:
Liisa Schofield
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
Phone: 416 925 6939

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