[Hpn] 'Gatekeeper Squat' pics online

Graeme Bacque gbacque@colosseum.com
Sun, 09 Nov 2003 06:53:02 -0500


Hey all,

Some pics from Saturday's 'Gatekeeper Squat' action by the Ontario
Coalition Against Poverty can be viewed online at
http://graemesgallery.tripod.com/Squat

Following a noon-hour meal and rally at All Saints Church in downtown
Toronto, close to 500 people (including many homeless folk) took part in
a spirited march toward the east end. As we were passing the Toronto
(Don) Jail, the march abruptly changed course, surrounding an old
building near the jail grounds as banners dropped from the windows.

Things got kind of tense at this point, as the arriving marchers
scrambled to join their comrades on the inside. Four people were
arrested and a 2 1/2 year old boy was snatched by the cops after his mom
was taken down. (Fortunately the boy's father was there as well and
after some rather tense back-and-forth with the police was able to
regain custody of his son). Finding themselves facing a large and
enraged crowd, the cops surprised everyone by retreating in a hurry and
leaving us with undisputed control of the building for several hours!

The object of the action was to bring immediate pressure to bear on
Toronto's new incoming Mayor (a municipal election will be taking place
Monday the 10th) but instead we ended up getting  a Liberal MP named
Dennis Mills, who showed up on the site sometime after 3 PM. (This is
the same guy who at one time proposed that the United Nations ought to
relocate their headquarters to Toronto). In a truly bizarre turn of
events, this character offered to resign his seat in the House of
Commons within one month if he was unsuccessful in getting this building
converted into social housing! He actually wrote this down and signed it
while the media and scores of witnesses looked on. (It is intended that
he will be held to this commitment).

Things were looking pretty tense at this point, what with the riot cops
massing up near the jail and periodically unfurling large banners
stating that force would be used to clear the area. The Dennis Mills
affair had provided us with an opportunity  to leave the area for the
time being without a bloodbath and a lot of arrests, so after a short
discussion on the inside the squatters decided to come out  and disperse
with the rest of the crowd. Aside from a cyclist being ticketed on some
bogus charge and one of OCAP's flags being confiscated by a belligerent
cop, this happened without incident. Three of the earlier arrestees were
released from the police station late that evening, with a fourth person
being held overnight for a Sunday morning bail hearing.

Graeme Bacque
November 9, 2003