Comment 122524

By Wentworth (registered) | Posted March 07, 2018 at 13:57:49

A masked mob massed in a community park in the heart of the most densely populated neighbourhood in the city, then went on to vandalize two blocks of a popular BIA that straddles two highly engaged neighbourhood associations representing the next two most densely populated neighbourhoods in the city. I don’t find it strange that adjacent neighbourhoods and neighbourhood associations along with patrons, peers and friends of those who work along that strip (along with the mayor, ward councillor and MPP—who happens to live nearby) would express disapproval and shop the neighbourhood in support.

As to the preceding wave of anti-gentrification vandalism, those actions bear scarce resemblance to Saturday’s blitz.

Last summer, seven businesses were targeted by vandals—not in the space of two blocks on one street in a matter of minutes, but across three lower city wards, more than 6 kilometres apart, during June and August 2017. East to west:

  • Hendry’s Shoes (657 Barton St E): security cameras vandalized, windows tagged
  • Gibson Lofts (601 Barton St. E): slogan sign hung
  • Co-Motion 302  (302 Cumberland Ave): locks glued, facade tagged
  • The Heather (357 Barton St E): window broken
  • The Butcher and the Vegan (61 Barton St E): window broken
  • Acclamation (185 James St N): locks glued, facade tagged
  • Marsales Realty (986 King St W): locks glued, facade tagged

Before The Hamilton Institute claimed responsibility for the above actions, police weren’t even considering those incidences of vandalism as being connected.

Apples and artichokes.

If a mob action comparable to the Locke South riot had taken place in a popular BIA with decades of heavy commercial volume and little to no history of violence or vandalism, I expect that there would be a similar rally of support.

If a beloved family business were evicted by a developer, a show of community solidarity could be predicted.

Were a chronic socioeconomic issue to express itself in a dramatic flashpoint such as a Ghost Ship-style tragedy, there would be an upswell of empathy and philanthropy and no shortage of media coverage.

If the owners of the Cotton Factory were to attempt to engineer a 401 Richmond-style displacement, the arts community and friends of culture throughout the region would likely rise to the occasion.

As these example illustrate and your headline insinuates, time is a key consideration. The slow-drip issues of illegal and affordable housing cannot be resolved as easily as repairing a window and are obviously more complex than a hash-tagged day of shopping. The same is true of sprawling and trenchant ills like inequality and marginalization, which cannot be remedied by an afternoon of shopping.

Relationship-building and consensus-forging takes time, as does dismantling bias and closing divides within our community. Chronic, thorny socioeconomic issues and zoning demand dedicated and prolonged advocacy and engagement, and require ongoing political lobbying to achieve bureaucratic traction around things like zoning revisions and mixed-use residential proposals, to say nothing of budgetary means to effect a desired outcome. The latest version of the City’s Downtown Secondary Plan has been under development and discussion for the past seven years. That’s not an unusual time frame for social change. There are no discounts or shortcuts for being smart or hip or woke. It takes time and considerable reserves of empathy, understanding, and patience. Few find that prospect appealing. Most find it daunting. Even those who ostensibly have power are required to put in the hours. Crafting and stickhandling even ineffectual virtue-signalling legislation requires a great deal of persistence and luck, and many practical bills die or are voted down or are picked over or ever watered down before they are enacted as law. And revising or replacing our entire parliamentary system of law, if that's your aim, will prove even more time-consuming.

As far as post-incident language goes, I would respectfully submit that “retaliatory might” is a semantically loaded interpretation of the response of local law enforcement. Vehicles aside, your account suggests that the ratio of police officers to rioters was apparently 1:1, even after they had pelted officers with rocks. And in light of the fact that the mob still eluded police, it was arguably an insufficient complement of officers. It is a little pedantic to ask whether 30 police officers would ever be dispatched to prevent the eviction of a single citizen, whether for luxury condos or because of rent owing; the author presumably knew the answer to his rhetorical before it was asked, and understands that officers regard most landlord-tenant disputes as a civil matter and not a criminal one.

Two cents.

Comment edited by Wentworth on 2018-03-07 14:01:26

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