Adam Zivo: Homeless camps cause crime. Why are activists pretending otherwise?


Supporters tear down a fence surrounding a homeless encampment at Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto, on June 22. PHOTO BY ERNEST DOROSZUK/TORONTO SUN/POSTMEDIA

When the City of Toronto recently cleared a major homeless encampment in Trinity Bellwoods Park, one of the city’s most popular public spaces, activists came together to violently oppose the eviction. Consequently, Trinity Bellwoods has become another case study in how activists use dishonesty to achieve their goals and, in the process, undermine municipal efforts to balance the needs of the homeless against threats to community safety. Yet pro-encampment activists are quick to dismiss or trivialize widespread online testimonials of neighbourhood violence. As someone who lived adjacent to an encampment that was cleared out in May, I have personally experienced this kind of gaslighting with respect to my own safety .

Yet last fall, the City of Toronto was forced to admit that encampments are unsafe. Ironically, this was caused by pro-encampment activists who dragged the city into a legal battle over the validity of evictions. In a 29-page court submission, the city’s legal team explained that safety concerns include «frequent» violent incidents within the encampments themselves, problems with human trafficking and threats of violence and harassment against city workers and park visitors. The city noted that visitors, particularly seniors and families, were afraid to enter certain parks.

Consider the CBC, which, just prior to Trinity Bellwoods being cleared out, published an absurd article that portrayed the encampment’s residents as whimsical artists who enjoy music, sketching and «repairing bicycles». Indeed, contrary to what activists often claim, police are sent only as security to protect workers from any mobs that may show up. One can only imagine what would have happened to city workers had no security been provided for them. In Trinity Bellwoods, a large police presence resulted in a 12-hour standoff with a mob of activists, who hurled abuse at police and city workers and attempted to vandalize fences erected to protect workers during the eviction process.

Yet the city’s reasonable security measures are being spun as evidence of a callous and over-militarized police state. The spin is being supported by outright fabrications spread by pro-encampment activists. For example, Zoe Dodd, a highly visible activist affiliated with the Encampment Safety Network , tweeted that police were firing rubber bullets at protesters. City officials confirmed that campers were given two hours to pack their belongings, and were provided with more time as they continued packing.

When the City of Toronto reached out to the Star about Kwong’s false claims, she doubled down and whined on Twitter about being «bullied» and «silenced,» as if it were offensive to ask her not to spread false information. And in a now-deleted tweet, the ESN implied that it had negotiated a peaceful resolution between the city and residents of one of the camps. City officials say that they are «unaware of any negotiations that occurred on site or off site where the Encampment Support Network negotiated a peaceful resolution.» Later, ESN reversed course and claimed that there had been no peaceful resolution. If we are going to find solutions to these complex and sensitive problems, cities, communities and activists will all need to work together.

But this won’t happen so long as pro-encampment voices are peddling fiction as fact in pursuit of their agenda.

Source: Adam Zivo | NP 

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