Just days after members of the Women Against Poverty Collective (WAPC) packed the court room in support of four women charged with break and enter and mischief, the crown has withdrawn the charges! The four women were part of a collaborative effort to convert an abandoned building at 4 Howard St. into useable, safe housing for women, transfolks and our kids.
On June 3rd, 2007 WAPC held a rally, march and housing takeover to raise awareness about the connection between poverty, violence and homelessness in women's lives. Lack of affordable housing and pitifully low social assistance rates force many women and transwomen to choose between living with violent partners or living on the street. Once on the street though, homeless women are so marginalized that they are assaulted, raped and murdered at 10 times the rate of other women in Canada.
WAPC aims to stop this violence by creating housing that is controlled by us and for us. The tent city and housing takeover on June 3rd was one such action. In response to the 'threat' of women and trans folks creating their own solutions to homelessness, police violently attacked the participants with horses, assaulting and targeting racialized women/transfolks in particular. To date, the mayor, police chief and police services board have all refused to acknowledge this brutality and have denied WAPC's requests for a meeting.
The charges against the four are being withdrawn as part of the Community Justice Program, where each of the four charged will donate $50 to a social justice organization, in this case the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, in exchange for a withdrawal of the charges. All four women will continue to organize with the WAPC. One woman who was outside the housing takeover is still facing a charge of obstruction and WAPC will continue to support her in her legal case and calls on her charge to be withdrawn as well.
The crown's decision to withdraw the charges affirms what we already know: that the police reaction on June 3rd was politically motivated- a violent attempt to frighten and silence women and transfolk willing to take direct action to gain safe housing for ourselves and each other. That we've continued organizing, continued speaking out and continued struggling collectively shows that they've failed! We will keep on fighting for all people's right to have safe homes, live free of violence and have enough money to live in dignity.
COME OUT TO THE NEXT WAPC MEETING ON AUGUST 1ST AT 5PM AT PARKDALE COMMUNITY LEGAL SERVICES (1266 Queen St. W) AS WE CONTINUE IN OUR STRUGGLE TO WIN HOUSING BY US FOR US NOW!
For more info on the Women Against Poverty Collective go to www.womenagainstpovertycollective.org.