[Hpn] FW: TENT CITY - an international call for solidarity

Graeme Bacque gbacque@colosseum.com
Fri, 27 Sep 2002 15:50:14 -0700


-----Original Message-----
From: tdrc@on.aibn.com [mailto:tdrc@on.aibn.com]
Sent: Friday, September 27, 2002 12:19 PM
To: tdrc@tdrc.net
Subject: TENT CITY - an international call for solidarity


An International Call for Solidarity.
Please distribure far and wide.

On Tuesday, September 24, 2002, Home Depot Canada sent a small army of
private security guards backed by a small army of Toronto police to forcibly
evict about 125 people from a homeless encampment on their unused property
in downtown Toronto, Canada.  Home Depot needs to be held in account for its
actions. Due to the urgency and seriousness of this matter, please respond
immediately to our international call for solidarity and action against Home
Depot.

Please find below, an action pack that includes:
1. Background guide (includes info on our demands and what you can do)
2. A tip sheet on how to organize your own information picket.
3. Sample text for flyer that can be distributed at your information picket.

For formated copies of the materials, visit our website at www.tdrc.net. Due
to the urgency of this matter, please participate right
away in this international call for action against Home Depot!

Any questions, don't hesitate to give us a call at 416-599-8372 or email
tdrc@tdrc.net. Thanks.

Musonda
Toronto Disaster Relief Committee

***************************

1. BACKGROUND GUIDE: An International Call for Solidarity

Here's why - and how - you should take action against Home Depot.

On Tuesday, September 24, 2002, Home Depot Canada sent a small army of
private security guards backed by a small army of Toronto
police to forcibly evict about 125 people from a homeless encampment on
their unused property in downtown Toronto, Canada. The site,
known as Tent City, has been the home to Canada's largest homeless
encampment for several years. There were about 55 structures in
Tent City, most of them built by the residents. The Toronto Disaster Relief
Committee has been working with residents for more than
two years. We moved several pre-fab homes onto the site, supplied portable
toilets, fireplaces and even showers. Just three days
before the raid, TDRC organized a clean-up day with 60 volunteers (from
university students to seniors) who worked alongside Tent
City residents to improve the site.

Home Depot has spent tens of thousands of dollars to move against the
homeless residents of Tent City. Within minutes of occupying
the site, they had erected a new, nine-metre high barbed wire fence, a new
security road around the perimeter and high-intensity
search lights, not to mention the private security staff and construction
crews brought on site. Home Depot removed the residents so
quickly that they didn't have a chance to gather medicine, identification or
other personal items. It took hours of intense pressure
to arrange for residents to have access to their homes and their belongings.
And even then, access was very restrictive. Home Depot
has said that it will only guarantee to protect the dwellings and belongings
for seven days. And it made no plans for relocation of
the residents, not even for temporary shelter. After a great deal of
pressure from TDRC and others, the City of Toronto has made an
offer to help Tent City residents find proper housing. But Home Depot
offered no help at all.

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights says that "forced evictions
are a gross violation of human rights". The International
Convenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which Canada has signed,
guarantees the right to housing. The International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Canada has also signed, says
that everyone has the right to be protected against
"arbitrary or unlawful interference" with their homes. The U.N. says that if
people have to be moved, they should be given enough
notice so that they can prepare for the move, new homes at another location
and practical help in relocating.

Home Depot didn't do any of this. They spent a lot of money to throw 125
people who had been peacefully living in Tent City off the
land without any thought as to where they would go. Home Depot says that the
site was unsafe, but the streets of Toronto are even
more dangerous. And there were only 14 beds in homeless shelters in the
entire city of Toronto (population 2.4 million) on the night
that the Tent City residents were forcibly evicted - another sign of the
city's overcrowded and unhealthy shelter system.

Here's what Home Depot needs to do:

1. Treat Tent City residents with respect. They should have access to their
dwellings. Their property and their homes should be
protected - not bulldozed after seven days. The portable structures may be
moved. Home Depot should help with transportation and
storage. They should help residents salvage as much as possible of the
structures which cannot be moved.
2. Acknowledge the error of their ways. Home Depot was wrong to evict the
residents without any notice and without any help in
relocating. Home Depot can make amends by offering $50,000 per unit in
capital funding for construction of 55 units of new social
housing - the same number of units that were on the Tent City site - for a
total bill of $2.75 million. That's small change for a
company that boasted in May of 2002 that it had "a record $5.2 billion in
cash on the balance sheet". An apology is not enough. Home
Depot should pay.
3. Adopt the One-Percent Solution. A growing number of groups, including
socially responsible corporations, are calling on the
Canadian government to restore housing programs that were slashed in the
1980s and cancelled in the 1990s. Home Depot should be an
active partner in the One Percent Solution, the campaign for a fully-funded
national housing program.

You can make a difference:

The Toronto Disaster Relief Committee is calling on individuals and
community groups, unions, faith communities and all others in
Canada and the United States to join in a campaign against Home Depot. This
is not a boycott, although consumers of conscience may
decide to shop elsewhere. This is a mobilization to force Home Depot to take
the specific actions outlined above. The TDRC has
already talked to senior officials at Home Depot. But they need to feel
community pressure before they will respond seriously.

Some tips for action:

1. Contact Home Depot and tell them to meet our demands. Make sure to ask
for a response. Organize a letter-writing party in your
neighbourhood, union local or faith community. Send a letter directly to
Annette Verschuren, President, Home Depot Canada, 426
Ellesmere Road, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, M1R 4E7. The telephone number
is 416-609-0852 and follow the prompts to get to her
office. Or send a fax to 416-412-4215.
2. Organize a Homeless Depot solidarity group in your area and arrange for
an information picket of a local store. TDRC has tips for
organizing an action on our Web site, along with a flyer that you can copy
and hand out to customers.
3. If you are a customer of Home Depot, or know others who might be personal
or commercial customers, then contact the store to tell
them that you expect corporations to show social responsibility. Tell them
that you want them to take action on the basic demands.

Stay in touch:

Look for updates on the Homeless Depot action on the TDRC Web site at
www.tdrc.net. Call us at 416-599-8372. Send an e-mail to
tdrc@tdrc.net. Or write to Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, 6 Trinity
Square, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5G 1B1. Send us copies of
any letters that you sent to Home Depot. And make sure to send us copies of
any replies that you receive.


2. TIPS FOR ORGANIZING AN INFORMATION PICKET

Tips for organizing a Homeless Depot information picket

1. Look for a Home Depot store in your community. Check out the site. Most
stores won't allow information pickets on their property,
but entrances to parking lots can be effective places to hand out flyers. If
you have trouble with private security officers or
police, call the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee.

2. Round up a handful of supporters. You don't need a big crowd (although
the bigger the numbers, the less likely you will
experience trouble from security). Three or four people per parking lot
entrance is enough.

3. Make up some picket signs with snappy slogans: Homeless Depot, honk if
you hate forced evictions, and so on. Check out our Web
site for some ideas. If your group, union local or faith community has a
banner, bring it along.

4. Download the information flyer from our Web site. Feel free to make some
changes and add local contact information.

5. Pick a day for your event. You might want to send a news release to local
media. It's a good way to build support and get the
message out. Send a letter to the president of Home Depot Canada (with a
copy to the TDRC) explaining why you are picketing the
store. Send a letter directly to Annette Verschuren, President, Home Depot
Canada, 426 Ellesmere Road, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada,
M1R 4E7. The telephone number is 416-609-0852 and follow the prompts to get
to her office. Or send a fax to 416-412-4215.

6. Politely offer the flyers to customers as they come and go from the
store. Don't get into extended arguments with angry people.
It just raises everyone's blood pressure. Be prepared with a quick response
when people ask why you are there.

7. Local, provincial, state and national laws on information pickets and
trespassing can be different from area to area. If you have
any doubts, contact a local legal clinic or progressive lawyer. In most
places, if you are not blocking traffic and not on private
property, then you have the right to an information picket.

Stay in touch. Look for updates on the Homeless Depot action on the TDRC Web
site at www.tdrc.net. Call us at 416-599-8372. Send an
e-mail to tdrc@tdrc.net. Or write to Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, 6
Trinity Square, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5G 1B1.

Send us copies of any letters that you send to Home Depot. Make sure to send
us copies of any replies that you receive. And, please
send us copies of any newspaper clippings, if you manage to make some news
in your area.


3. SAMPLE TEXT FLYER (Visit our website for formatted copies of this.)

<< side one >>

Home Depot didn't cause homelessness,
but they shouldn't make it even worse

On September 24, 2002, Home Depot ordered a small army of private security
guards, backed by a small army of police officers, to
forcibly remove about 125 homeless people from some unused property they own
in Toronto, Canada. The people lived peacefully in a
community they called Tent City for several years in 55 dwellings, most of
which were built by the residents. Home Depot - which
boasts "a record $5.2 billion in cash on the balance sheet" didn't give them
any warning, they didn't offer any help in relocating
and they even tried to stop residents from collecting medicine,
identification or other personal belongings.

An apology is not enough. Home Depot should pay for the error of its ways.
The Toronto Disaster Relief Committee is calling on Home
Depot to:

1. Treat Tent City residents with respect. Give them access to their
dwellings. Protect their property and their homes. Help them
move or store portable structures. Help residents salvage the homes that
cannot be moved.
2. Acknowledge the error of their ways. Home Depot should make amends by
offering $50,000 per unit in capital funding for
construction of 55 units of new social housing - the same number of units
that were on the Tent City site - for a total bill of
$2.75 million.
3. Adopt the One-Percent Solution. A growing number of groups, including
socially responsible corporations, are calling on the
Canadian government to restore housing programs that were slashed in the
1980s and cancelled in the 1990s. Home Depot should be an
active partner in the One Percent Solution, the campaign for a fully-funded
national housing program.

<< side two >>

Tired of big corporations that push around poor people?
Here's what you can do. . .

Tell Home Depot that, as a customer, you expect them to be a good corporate
citizen. And that means treating homeless people fairly.

You can make a difference - if you raise your voice!

When you shop in a local store, tell the clerk, the store manager or other
employees about your concern regarding the company's
actions in Toronto. And ask the employee to pass those concerns along to the
Canadian head office in Toronto.

Send a letter directly to Annette Verschuren, President, Home Depot Canada,
426 Ellesmere Road, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, M1R
4E7. The telephone number is 416-609-0852 and follow the prompts to get to
her office. Or send a fax to 416-412-4215.

For more information about the Homeless Depot campaign, you can log onto the
Toronto Disaster Relief Committee Web site at
www.tdrc.net. Call us at 416-599-8372. Send an e-mail to tdrc@tdrc.net. Or
write to Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, 6 Trinity
Square, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5G 1B1. Send us copies of any letters
that you sent to Home Depot. And make sure to send us
copies of any replies that you receive.

Or contact << add local contact information here >>

******************************************
Toronto Disaster Relief Committee
6 Trinity Square, Toronto, ON M5G 1B1
Phone: 416-599-8372, Fax: 416-599-5445
NEW EMAIL: tdrc@tdrc.net
NEW WEBSITE: www.tdrc.net