Protest rejects police violence and encampment evictions, calls for affordable housing and accessible washrooms

Published by Brent Patterson on

About 500 metres east of Parliament Hill in Ottawa there is an air grate that the houseless have used to keep warm as it gets colder outside.

The Hope Encampment says: “We set camp here for about a month and a half because there is heat coming from the grate and we have nowhere else to go.”

Then on November 20, “the City sent police officers and city workers to throw away our belongings, which are essential to our daily survival. After throwing our stuff in the garbage during the sweep, the police parked their car on the grate for hours to prevent us from being warm without presenting us with a viable alternative.”

Following that, a protest took place on November 22, National Housing Day, at that grate in front of the Hudson’s Bay store.

The Hope Encampment said: “We call on those who support our struggle to show up in-person and send a message to the City, the police, and the ByWard Business Improvement Area and other businesses that we are not alone and that encampment evictions and street sweeps are immoral and a practice that must stop, immediately!”

In their statement, the Hope Encampment demands: “The City of Ottawa and the Ottawa Police must stop displacing, harassing, surveilling, and targeting us, immediately!”

They also highlight that: “The City of Ottawa must build affordable housing for all: we see empty buildings, condo towers, and hotels going up, but nothing is being built for poor people.” And they further note: “We need accessible washrooms: at night, there are no accessible washrooms. We need access to washrooms at all times of the day.”

To read their full statement, click here.

For a CTV News report on the protest, click here.

City Councillor Shawn Menard, who was present at the protest, later tweeted: “The needs in the market and across our city have been growing. This is not an enforcement solution, these people need mental health support, social workers, and most of all housing with supports. Our priorities must evolve and change to help one another or this will get worse.”

And local activist Sam Hersh also tweeted: “It’s blatantly obvious strategies prioritizing enforcement and lining the pockets of developers instead of the lived experience of people actually living on the street has led us here.”

Housing is a human right

The right to housing is an internationally recognized human right.

PBI-Canada affirms that human right and rejects the structural violence of houselessness, poverty and exclusion, carceral violence against the poor, and are mindful of the risks faced by defenders who challenge police violence and uphold the human right to housing.

For updates on the Hope Encampment, please see Justice For Anthony Aust on Twitter.

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