By Louisa Worrell
The blocks all over the city are hot this summer, and I’m not talking about temperature. Police surveillance and harassment seems to be at an all time high in some areas. Maybe it’s because the Toronto Police just got richer.
“It’s like they are picking us off one by one” said one resident of Vaughn and Oakwood who wished to remain anonymous.
Despite Rob Ford’s policies to “stop the gravy train” and having all city services to cut their budgets by 5%, the police budget continues to grow.
In January 2011, the police budget was given a 3.8% increase. The $905.9 million police operating budget makes the Toronto police force the largest single expense on the city budget.
On top of the increased police budget, the Toronto police officers were given 11% raise, which will make them the highest paid officers in the province. That means that a first- class constable earning $81,249 in 2010 will make $90,623 in 2014.
The increased police budget is allowing for a larger police presence in Toronto’s hoods, the communities that face the highest unemployment rates and will be most affected by the Ford cuts.
Rather than providing people with employment and public services, the Ford government is committed to criminalizing these communities.
The police are expanding their presence in the Davenport-Perth area. They are constructing a new police station where an elementary school benefited the local children only a few years ago.
Even a smaller building complex like Martha Eaton Way, near Tretheway and Black Creek, is seeing daily visits from the bike cops, who roll up and proceed to interrogate the closest young black man in a fitted baseball cap, asking him for identification, phone number and occasionally searching him, not to mention the frequent cursing and insulting.
The long record of deaths at the hands of the on-duty officers is no secret to anyone from these areas.
So watch out for the heat waves and most importantly the hot blocks, because with all this un-employment, someone has to be paid to contain the people’s dissatisfaction. Stay alert and organise your area, these are the only real options for working and unemployed people.