*Article: Megan Kinch & Steve da Silva * Videography: Darryl Richardson * Video: Editing Camila Uribe * Photos: Darryl Richardson & Steve da Silva *
Four years to the day after Jane Finch Action Against Poverty’s (JFAAP) founding on October 17, 2008 – the International Day for the Elimination of Poverty – one of Jane-Finch’s leading people’s organizations took to the streets once again with its allies to protest the worsening of poverty and police brutality in the community.
Designed for the quick flow-through of cars, the protest circled through the intersection that is the community’s name-sake and that corporate media and local university media loves to vilify: Jane-Finch.
The protest was very much of the corner as well, as people waiting for the bus listened to speeches and watched street theatre from their bus stops and at their red lights. The rally of some 150 people circled through the intersection, for nearly 90 minutes.
Demands from the crowd ranged from calling upon York University’s Excalibur newspaper to end its stigmatization of the area for problems on campus and in the university’s Village Community; calling for community control of policing and an end to police brutality; raising the welfare and disability rates; as well as more support for elders; and an end to horizontal violence within the community.
Despite the ‘good-cop’ act of the so-called ‘community policing’ strategy, with some of 31 Division’s foot cops chatting it up with people in crowd that has many problems with policing in the neighbourhood, the local division’s real attitude towards community residents was demonstrated when two cop cruisers barrelled through the Jane-Finch intersection, nearly hitting protestors and forcing marchers to leap out of the way. Civilian cars weren’t irritated by the few-seconds delay caused by the tail end of the 150+ person rally that circled through the intersection on the green lights – but not for the cops.
The cop assigned to ‘engage’ with the protest quickly distanced themselves from the incident, saying that they had “nothing to do with the protest” and were simply “responding to another call” – even though the cars had no sirens on.
The protest concluded with performances from local popular theatre group, Nomanzland, as well as performances from other local artists. The short street acts included, a mock oath to the queen, a desperate community member meeting the red tape of the social service bureaucracy, and a Jane-Finch rendition of the good’ old “Oh Canada… our home on stolen land.”
JFAAP is one of the few community-based organizations in the city that is moving the people in its community for social justice and political mobilization.