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OCAP protestors escorted out of city hall

Members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty protest outside Mayor Rob Ford's office at city hall, Feb. 15, 2013. TWITTER @OCAPTORONTO

A group of protestors have been removed by police after spending the day outside Mayor Rob Ford’s office at city hall on Friday.

The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) set up a makeshift homeless shelter to protest what it says is a lack of shelter beds.

The group converged outside of the mayor’s office around 1 p.m. with sleeping bags and other supplies. Shortly after 10 p.m. they were told by officials that police had been called and that if they did not move they would be escorted out or arrested under the trespass of property act.

Around 10:30 p.m. police came in and one-by-one escorted the demonstrators out of city hall. The majority of protestors went peacefully but continued to chant “no more deaths.”

Insp. Howie Page said no protestors were detained but they were issued trespassing tickets.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ford claims the problem of lack of shelter beds doesn’t exist.

“The position that the city is taking, that there are adequate shelter beds available, is, I’m sorry to be un-parliamentary, a lie,” OCAP’s John Clarke said at city hall. “What must happen, is that there must be a response.”

“We are demanding that the City stop lying about the situation and pretending that there are enough beds to meet the needs that exist,” an OCAP statement said.

“Lives have been lost because the shelters are full, many more are at risk and OCAP is taking the necessary action to challenge this appalling neglect.”

When Ford was asked about the protest while visiting the Canadian International Autoshow at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the mayor said: “The shelter beds aren’t even full.”

OCAP said it planned to keep its city hall homeless shelter in place until the city provides an “adequate alternative.” It also wants council to hold an emergency session on the issue.

– with files from Christine Chubb