Media release from 13 Jan 2014.
Last night three members and supporters of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP), an activist anti-poverty organization, were arrested for participating in a support work delegation that went to the Out of the Cold Shelter to ask that a person who had been barred from the Shelter be allowed to say there in warmth and safety. This individual had been barred even though they had no other place to stay out of the cold. This kind of support work is what S-CAPengages in on a daily basis for people living in poverty in Sudbury. The issue of finding this individual a place to stay out of the cold was eventually resolved successfully, but not before the police intervened to make arrests.
When the S-CAP delegation arrived Salvation Army staff called the police. When the police arrived, they asked the S-CAP delegation to leave even though the Shelter staff had told them they could wait in the lobby until the situation for the person seeking shelter was resolved. When an S-CAP member said to the police she was not going to leave until this person got a place to stay out of the cold, she was immediately, and quite forcefully arrested. Excessive force was used on this mother as she called back to her son as she was arrested. Then two other people were arrested as they were leaving — one for simply looking back through the window of the Out of the Cold Shelter and the other who was standing on the sidewalk outside. It was this uncalled for over-reaction by the police that created the disturbance at the Out of the Cold shelter last night and that led to entirely unjustified arrests. The S-CAP delegation had no intention of causing a disturbance or of interfering with residents at the Shelter. In fact, an S-CAP member had brought her son with her to the Shelter, as she has done before. It was the police overreaction and arrests and interference with the S-CAP delegation that created the problems. S-CAP apologizes for any anxiety caused to the staff person at the front desk of the shelter when the delegation first arrived.
The three individuals are charged with “trespassing” and “causing a disturbance” (which is a criminal code offence) and have had non-association conditions imposed on them which means that they cannot even communicate with each other. This condition makes it very difficult for them to organize a defence.
S-CAP calls for these charges to be immediately dropped. S-CAP already has a history with the police trying to stifle our ability to organize, most recently with the S-CAP 11 charges, but now they have moved onto criminalizing people doing support work for people living in poverty. This harassment must stop.
S-CAP will continue to support people who have been barred from the Out of the Cold Shelter, will continue to advocate for more extended hours for this crucial Shelter, and for the elimination of barriers for accessing this Shelter. We also need accessible, affordable and safe housing in this city and we need a major raise in social assistance rates so that people can afford the housing that is available. In the long run we know shelters are not the solution, and that we need to address the root causes of poverty and the marginalization of people living in poverty in government policies that consistently put the interests of the rich ahead of those of the poor.
For more information contact:
S-CAP at 249-878-7227