Police arrested two people at City Hall Thursday after members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) and other groups took over a budget meeting to protest proposed cuts.
Police were expecting the coalition of community groups, including OCAP, No One Is Illegal Toronto and Jane Finch Action Against Poverty, to attend the meeting on the second floor but when chaos erupted officers called for assistance and arrested two protesters.The community groups announced they would be holding a “people’s delegation” at City Hall in a press release issued Thursday morning.
OCAP leader John Clarke stepped up on a desk during the demonstration and a few protesters taunted Coun. Doug Ford, who responded with “get a job” (see his response in the embedded video).
The groups were there to voice opposition to proposed budget cuts that would result in TTC bus route reductions and the implementation of some user fees — moves they say will affect the lives of low-income residents.
They also claim councillors’ latest move to freeze their wages was “an attempt to placate the public in order to facilitate further cuts from those who need it most.”
“The police are getting preferential treatment over the people of Toronto. The police budget needs to be cut and money put into the programs and services that actually create strong communities,” Jessica Denyer of the Community Justice Coalition said in a statement.
The groups were also demonstrating against the Mayor Rob Ford’s plan to get rid of unionized jobs by privatizing garbage collection. They also claim the city will reduce spending on shelter services.
“Rod Ford’s Budget Committee is right now working out the details of the opening round of his attack on poor and working people in this City. Ford campaigned on the basis of stopping the ‘gravy train’ at City Hall, but his Budget plans show how exactly he defines ‘gravy’,” the group says on its website.
“The proposed cuts are real and they are deep – this is the information we have managed to gather so far, but can imagine are only the tip of the iceberg.”
Raw video of protest at City Hall. Warning: contains harsh language.