City issues trespass order against anti-racism demonstrators at Nathan Phillips Square
Group has been calling on officials to defund police since setting up encampment in June
The City of Toronto has given a group of anti-racism protesters until Monday to remove a tent encampment from Nathan Phillips Square that has been set up since June.
Demonstrator Jonathan Taylor-Brown told CBC News the city sent out about 30 security guards early Friday who walked around the square passing out letters and telling people they would have to leave by Monday.
"They will have to be dragging me away in cuffs to get me out of here by Monday night," Taylor-Brown said.
"At the very least we know we are a burden on them, we are pressuring them, which is why they have been pushing that forward to get us removed," he said.
"A lot of the people who came here were committed. They didn't want to leave, and they're not going to leave, and it's not going to be an easy thing."
The protest, which has been ongoing since June 19, was organized by Afro Indigenous Rising, which describes itself online as a "collective working towards action for de-funding the police, and for justice for Afro-Indigenous peoples affected by colonial violence."
Taylor-Brown said the group wants to see "substantial and meaningful change," and noted it has seen quite a bit of community support.
City spokesperson Brad Ross told CBC News that the demonstrators were first given notices on Tuesday, which outlined that acts like camping, open flames, the use of generators and "marking up" the square are in contravention of city bylaws.
Ross confirmed that people in the square were then issued trespassing notices Friday morning, which outlined they have until Monday to pack up their tents and stop using flames and generators.
That notice also said the city does have "legal options available," he added, which could include the removal of property. It also noted that anyone convicted of trespassing could face a fine of up to $10,000.
"We're hopeful that people who have been protesting peacefully will leave, and protest on the square if they wish in a manner that is not contrary to the bylaw," Ross said.
"They can be on the square to protest. We absolutely respect that right, it is a public square. The entire public though has a right to access that square."
The encampment is one of several protests against racism that have sprung up in Toronto in recent weeks, alongside calls to defund police.
On Monday, city council voted in favour of a series of reforms that could alter the future of policing in the city, including the creation of a non-police response team for mental health calls and a mandate to require all officers to have body-worn cameras by 2021.
The changes do not, however, include a targeted reduction of the policing budget.