Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The following is a reminder from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) about two important events coming up tomorrow. Join in if you're down Toronto way.

[ocap] Tomorrow: Two Important Actions‏:
Reminder:Press Conference and Court Support
Thursday November 20th, 2008
8:30 am
Old City Hall(Queen & Bay)
Free coffee & doughnuts
Toronto Police: Implement Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy for People Without Status
Thursday November 20th, 1:30pm
Toronto Police Services Board Meeting
Police Headquarters 20 College Street, Just West of Yonge Street
Press Conference and Court Support ;
Thursday November 20th, 2008
8:30 am
Old City Hall
(Queen & Bay)
Free coffee & doughnuts
Matthew Rickwood, a young Toronto man, is appearing in court on Thursday with his lawyer, after being charged under the Safe Streets Act this summer for "encumbering of street".
In June, Matthew had just sat down on the sidewalk in Toronto's downtown east end, when he was approached by cops and served with a court summons. He had already been given multiple tickets, carrying fines he simply cannot pay. More to the point, he had done nothing wrong. Living on social assistance, after paying his rent and board each month, Matthew is left with $56 to survive.
In a letter sent to Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, the Police Services Board and Mayor David Miller, Gary Magee, a lawyer from Justice for Children and Youth writes, "My that the increase in Safe Streets Act charges is part of a practice of "proactive policing" of youth and the poor. The practice includes harassing this population by issuing invalid tickets for Trespass, Liquor Licence Act infractions, and bylaws such as"encumbering the street", "loitering", and "fouling the street."
OCAP is calling on the police to stop the harassment of poor people through the criminalizing and discriminatory practice of ticketing, and demanding that the City of Toronto take responsibility for the actions of Toronto police. We agree with Justice for Children and Youth that resources spent on charging, prosecuting, and incarcerating poor people, should be spent instead on affordable housing, parks and quality recreation and arts programming, as recommended in the recent Roots of Violence report by Mr.McMurtry and Dr. Curling.
" The priorities of the city have to change. Join us in supporting Matthew, his lawyer, and others coming to the steps of Old City Hall to speak out against rampant police harassment that is sending poor people to jail for no reason, wasting resources, and depriving people of dignity and justice.
1. That cops stop issuing Safe Streets Act and other tickets against poor people for being poor. Last year the cops laid 10,500 Safe Streets Act tickets and thousands of other tickets for things like "encumbering the sidewalk" and other 'offences'.
2. That the mayor tell the cops to back off. David Miller must tell the police to stop laying tickets against people on the streets.
3. That the City provide legal representation for tickets. If the City's cops ticket people they should provide representation for people. Right now, people are going to jail for panhandling largely because they cannot get legal aid and have no one to represent them in court. This is a tremendous injustice and it has an easy solution:
If the City is going to ticket, and prosecute people, they can provide lawyers too. ****************
(DADT)Campaign Calls on Chief of Police to IMPLEMENT a REAL AND FULL DADT POLICY:
Pack the meeting or give a deputation (present your arguments for a full Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy).
We are also asking people to send letters to the Board, a sample letter is attached to this callout, please cc all letters .
Thursday November 20th,
Toronto Police Services Board Meeting
Police Headquarters 20 College Street, Just West of Yonge Street
The Don't Ask, Don't Tell campaign is calling all allies, social service providers and immigrant/refugee communities to mobilize by packing the Toronto Police Services Board meeting to show our sincere concerns about the lack of a true Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy by the Toronto Police.
On February 15th 2006, the Toronto Police Services Board passed a limited "Don't Ask" policy which stated that Toronto Police would be barred from asking the immigration status of "witnesses and victims of a crime"without a “bonafide reason”.
In the spring of 2008, the Immigration Legal Committee of No One Is Illegal and the Law Union of Ontario presented a legal opinion as to why the Police needed to adopt a full don’t ask don’t tell policy. Unfortunately, under the current policy, many people without status have been misled into thinking that they can now access police services without fear. But they cannot.
As it stands, the Board and the Police Services are taking credit for a weak policy passed on paper. The legal opinion has this to say about the current policy:
A “Don’t Ask” policy alone does not make police services accessible to Torontonians without legal immigration status. For instance, persons working with non-status domestic violence survivors have indicated that police officers rarely learn of their clients’ immigration status by asking about it directly. Rather, a person’s immigration status comes to police attention when police request identification documents or when abusive spouses report the status of their victims to police officers.
The existing policy directs police to "not ask" about status - for some people, some of the time - but police are still allowed to "tell"immigration authorities about someone's status when they find out. Police usually find out about status in some way, whether through checking ID, manipulative disclosure from an abusive partner, or trusting (or fearful) disclosure from a non-status person themselves."
As well, research by the committee showed that immigration status often plays into racial profiling by the police: either the police use status as an excuse to harass people of colour, or they use it as a way to justify police stops that are based on the person’s race.
Toronto needs a full Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Our communities deserve a full Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. As part of the ongoing campaign for full and accessible regularization for all non status people, and as part of an ongoing campaign for a full access without fear for all non status people in Toronto, No One Is Illegal is mobilizing to demand a full Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy by the Toronto Police.
Join us on November 20th at 1:30 pm at the Toronto Police Services Board and show that our communities are united in demanding Access without Fear.
For More information contact or
or call 416-999-6885.
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
10 Britain St.
Toronto, ON
M5A 1R6

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