Homeless complain of being harassed

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Thu, 22 Jul 1999 05:38:16 -0400


Homeless complain of being harassed 

                    By Catherine Dunphy 
                  Toronto Star Feature Writer

Pregnant and homeless, Julie Hanna paid $2 for five copies of 
Outreach, the newspaper sold by homeless people throughout the 
city. 

She wanted to sell them to make some money for food and 
cigarettes. 

But on Tuesday morning a pair of police officers ordered her to stop 
selling the paper or she would be thrown in jail, she said. 

``They told me that there was no more selling papers, no more 
panhandling, no more squeegeeing, no more sleeping in the park,'' 
she said. 

Then, she said, they rousted her from her place at the northeast 
corner of Yonge and Wellesley Sts. 

``This is just because I'm homeless. The police threaten to arrest 
me just for trying to make money to feed me and my unborn child,'' 
said Hanna, 30, who is seven months pregnant. ``I've had it.'' 

Police Chief David Boothby said he couldn't comment on the 
incident without knowing the specific circumstances. 

``The fact is, some people are getting fed up with aggressive 
panhandling,'' he said. 

Hanna says target policing is giving police permission to harass 
homeless people who are doing nothing illegal. Many activists
agree. 

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty member Gaetan Heroux said 
about 20 police swept Allan Gardens last week. 

``It was clear they were targeting the poor, the blacks, the 
homeless,'' he said. 

Other outreach workers report police handed out tickets last week 
to squeegee kids working near Bathurst St. and Lake Shore Blvd. 
W. 

 ``It is one of the most intimidating situations to observe,'' said 
Heroux. ``To watch the cops approach people for no reason.'' 

Community groups opposed to target policing are to meet next 
week to hammer out a plan to help homeless people avoid the
crackdown. 

OCAP organizer John Clarke wants the group to organize squads 
that would patrol and monitor - and possibly videotape  - police 
encounters with the homeless in parks and on the street.