Intelligarde Security’s Mission: Arrest Homeless, Panhandlers, Referred to as Dirty Bums

A Chinese Gentleman Panhandling on Spadina

A Chinese Gentleman Panhandling on Spadina

Sunmedia, Toronto – Aug.21, 2008 Toronto Sun, by Ian Robertson, Headline: Dirty bum gets tossed

“A panhandler who refused to leave private property after messing his shorts was among 11 rousted at the start of a second week of controversial Chinatown security patrols. The beggar, who refused to stop appealing to passersby for money near Spadina Ave. after he “soiled his silks,” was arrested by Intelligarde Security officers Tuesday, firm founder Ross McLeod said…

Toronto Police Association president Dave Wilson is quoted as saying [private guards] lack the training, dedication and experience of cops. Unlike police, an unarmed uniformed guard can incite people to fight “and we don’t want to be showing up at incidents and having to worry about security guards as well.”… [end of excerpt ]

read more | digg story

Here at Project417, I have almost ten years of experience doing outreach to the homeless on the Spadina Chinatown streets. The accompanying photo was taken by me on Spadina, just south of Kensington Market, to illustrate the growing number of elderly Chinese-Canadians who have been forced by community circumstances to resort to panhandling. Of course homelessness knows no race and the homeless panhandlers in Chinatown come from all communties right across the country, but there are a growing number of seniors in Chinatown who appear to have no visible means of support and have taken to the streets.

The threat to public safety through the presence of hired private security firms is real. As well as the assault on human rights, not just of the homeless, but the public who are being confronted and intimidated by what amounts to uniformed thugs on public city sidewalks. Chinatown BIA President, Stephen Chan claims the homeless are blocking doors, aggressively panhandling passers by and even says they are responsible for thefts from cars. The BIA is blind to the real crime problems in their own community and are misguided in targetting the homeless – my next post will outline alarming crime trends in the Spadina Chinatown as well as first hand encounters with Intelligarde bullies.

Visit Project417

The Toronto Star Dazzles Us with Crime Statistics

As promised in my previous blog posting, here are some more facts and commentary on the Star’s misleading series they ran last month – “Why Getting Tough on Crime is Toughest on the Taxpayer”, Toronto Star, Jul.19 , 2008.

Prison Cell

Prison Cell

An open letter to the editor of the Toronto Star:

July 28th, 2008

Dear Editors,

In an eight part series of reports and opinion on crime and the prison system that began July 19th, the Star has done the Canadian public a great disservice. The Star’s error, which approaches gross negligence, in publishing this report, stems from the misleading use of statistics as well as a faulty premise.

First the statistics – mentioned repeatedly in the report is the overall drop in crime rates since 1975. Actually violent crimes have increased from 572 per 100,000 in 1977 to 951 per 100,000 – almost double! Combined rates of violent and property crimes have decreased only slightly from 5,038 per 100,000 to 4,539 – about 10%. Further, what the Star does not report is that crime rates had already increased from 1950 to 1975. The Star assumes, incorrectly, that the 1975 rates were acceptable and represented a safe community. Far from it.

Instead of percentages, let’s look at the real human impact: at the current combined crime rate for Toronto of 3,209 per 100,000, more than 80,000 Torontonians – men, women and children – will be the victims of crime this year! But the Star calls us “overly frightened”. That is criminal. The Star’s statistics do not reveal the sense that there is also an increasing number of unreported crimes, from a public that has given up on the system protecting them.  Similarly, the Star’s focus on prison inmates and persons charged with crimes do not reflect the number of crimes committed by first offenders before they are apprehended by police.

The Star’s major premise is that longer jail terms are no deterrent to crime. The people have news for the Star, incarceration is not meant to deter. It is the underpinning of justice, that is, punishment and penalty. People have the the right to a reasonable expectation of safety through the imprisonment of criminals. Our justice system guarantees this. The punishment of imprisonment removes the offender from society to a place where they can do no harm to the public for the term of the sentence. Longer sentences improve our safety absolutely. Even the limits in personal freedom imposed on criminals through parole are not meant to deter, but to protect the public from re-offenders.

The Star’s statistics do not report why rehabilitation is failing in the federal prison system. Statistics will not reveal the answer to the longstanding question since 20th century prison reform began – Can offenders be rehabilitated in prison? How many of the billions in cost of federal prisons is spent on inneffective rehab programs? This doesn’t mean you reduce incarceration rates – it means you change the method of rehabilitation. Perhaps move it out of the prison system entirely and make it the keystone of our early release parole programs. Forgiveness and reconciliation does not mean we abandon our rights to personal safety for our families.

If the Toronto Star, as it claims, were truly the voice of the public, they would seek information that would benefit victims of crime. A victim of child abuse, for example, is neither a taxpayer, nor a voter. They care not for your statistics.

Andy Coats
Toronto, On

Aug.8th. NOTE – Re. the Star’s recent headline, “Anger Mounts in Girl’s Death”, how would the Star suggest the accused, if found guilty, should be punished? Katelynn Sampson’s life and death is crying out for justice.

Toronto Star Claims Getting Tough on Crime Waste of Taxes

Guelph Federal Detention Centre

Guelph Federal Detention Centre

The beginning of an 8-part special series from the Toronto Star. At issue is a new law (effective May 2008 ) that toughens mandatory minimum sentences. The Star claims this is no deterrent to crime and trots out misleading and incomplete statistics in support. Their opinion is soft on crime and hard on victims.

We have news for the Star – Prison sentences are not meant to be a deterrent to crime. They are a punishment for the criminal. While in prison, the inmate is separated from society and unable to inflict further crimes on the public. Increasing time served through mandatory minimum sentences absolutely protects the public from those inmates and increases public safety for the term of their incarceration.

In future blog postings we’ll look at how the Star manipulated statistics to distort and conceal the real human impact of crime in Canada.

read more | digg story

Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday – Calls for Rich to Help Poor

Mandela Turns 90

Mandela Turns 90

Nelson Mandela, the man who ended apartheid in South Africa, marked his 90th birthday, calling for the rich to do more for the poor. “If you are poor, you are not likely to live long,” he said at his house in the Eastern Cape. He said:”There are many rich people… who can share with those not so fortunate who have not been able to conquer poverty”.

I’m so thankful for Mr. Mandela. I grew up from a young child all the while Mr. Mandela was imprisoned for his opposition to apartheid in South Africa. When he was released from prison, became South Africa’s first black President and put an end to the racist apartheid policy, the world became a better place. It gave me hope, that one person can rise above oppression and overcome injustice if they just hold on to their dreams. Ending apartheid was not just a South African phenomenon – it changed the world by shining light on the darkness that is racism and promoting peaceful multicultural co-existence.

Nelson Mandela, showed today, even on his 90th birthday, that his fight for justice is not over. Once again, even though he spoke of conditions in South Africa, the principal is universal throughout the world: the rich must do more to help the poor. This applies not only to individuals, but also to countries – countries like Canada who have been blessed with an abundance of resources and wealth. Just as Mr. Mandela says of his own country, so Canada has riches we should “share with those not so fortunate to conquer poverty.”

read more | digg story

Toronto Streets to Homes Program Just U.S. Homeless Czar’s Mistake

Gentrification of Jarvis & Shuter

Gentrification of Jarvis & Shuter

From Street Nurse Activist Cathy Crowe Newsletter #48 Summer 2008 – by Beric German:

Philip Mangano, often referred to as Bush’s homelessness czar, promotes a “housing first” policy. The Bush administration, and the Harper government, are concentrating on “street homelessness” (those people visibly living on the street), instead of funding sustainable affordable housing programs.”

The program is really about hiding the homeless! Many of my volunteers on the Project417 sandwich runs already have heard me, and our friends on the streets, tell of the appalling condition of the housing offered to the street homeless through the Streets to Homes programs: Small, cramped rooms and tiny basement apartments, crumbling walls and ceilings, old lead paint, asbestos insulation, parasites like bed bugs and lice, broken plumbing, and little choice in the tenants with whom you have to share. I wish there were statistics on how many Streets to Homes rooms were located in known crack houses.

Streets to Homes has had some success, but it is only dumb luck and the perseverance of the homeless themselves in choosing acceptable accomodation. By far the majority of “homes” offered are sub-standard and actually lead to tenants turning to homelessness on the streets again in a short time. Their choice is really a lack of choice. Tell our governemnt, at all levels that homelessness is not to be solved by hiding the problem, but by providing safe, accessible, affordable hosuing where banyone would choose to live with pride and dignity.

read more | digg story

More Than Good Intentions – Social Justice Working

A great new blog from Toronto, by a group committed to changing the community and helping the needy by getting out and DOING something. One of the founders, Victoria, came for short term summer missions with me years ago and has never lost the desire to be involved in social justice issues for the poor and homeless

read more | digg story

Canada’s Injustice to First Nations

Canada votes against UN declaration on aboriginal rights

From Yahoo! Canada News & CP

By Steve Lambert

(CP) – Aboriginal leaders, human rights groups and the opposition blasted the Conservative government Thursday after Canada voted against a United Nations declaration on aboriginal rights.

They accused the government of trying to sweep aside an important show of support for aboriginals that took 20 years of negotiations among UN countries.

“By opposing this declaration the Conservative government has signalled to aboriginal Canadians that their rights aren’t worth defending,” Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said in a statement.

“This is a stain on the country’s international reputation,” said Phil Fontaine, head of the Assembly of First Nations.

“It is disappointing to see this government vote against recognizing the basic rights of Canada’s First Peoples.”

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples passed easily Thursday, 143-4. Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United States voted against and 11 countries abstained.

Canada said it could not support the document because its broad wording appeared to give native communities sweeping powers that could contravene existing law.

“It’s inconsistent with the Canadian Constitution, with Supreme Court decisions and with our own treaty negotiations and obligations,” Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl said from Ottawa.

Among the many problems with the document, Strahl said, are sections that say laws that affect aboriginals should only be passed with the prior consent of First Nations.

“We’d have to consult with 650 First Nations to do that. I mean, it’s simply not doable,” he said.

Another section of the UN declaration says aboriginals “have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions.”

That is also unworkable, according to Strahl.

“Some people … say that means we can have our own legislatures, our own council in our own language,” Strahl said.

“But no one’s quite sure, and that’s the trouble with language like that.”

Critics argued the UN declaration is not binding on any country, and is more of a symbolic commitment to aboriginal rights.

“It’s an aspirational document…it wouldn’t contravene laws that are in place,” NDP Indian affairs critic Jean Crowder said from Nanaimo, B.C.

“I think (Canada’s vote) is a very cowardly and, I would say, un-Canadian approach to human rights.”

Aboriginal leaders, however, felt the document was more than just a vague expression of support.

“It recognizes who we are, that we have these fundamental rights,” said John Paul, executive director of the Atlantic Policy Congress, which represents 35 aboriginal communities

“To us it’s like the U.S. Declaration of Independence, because it lays out a number of inalienable truths about us as aboriginal people in the world.”

Visit Project417 to help

%d bloggers like this: