Video shows police storming Toronto apartment during single dad's eviction
People's Defence Toronto, an advocacy group fighting for tenants’ rights, posted a photo of the scene at 33 Gabian Way on April 2, 2021, where a single father and his two young children were facing eviction. (People's Defence Toronto/Facebook)
Published Wednesday, April 7, 2021 1:15PM EDT
A single father of two young children facing eviction from his Toronto home says dozens of police officers stormed into his apartment on Good Friday, a day before the Ontario government enacted a province-wide shutdown.
Hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, Alex, the father of a one-year-old baby and six-year-old child, said he has been having trouble paying rent on time for his apartment unit at 33 Gabian Way in Toronto for a few months now due to the pandemic.
The father told CTV News Toronto on Tuesday that he made a verbal agreement with his landlord to have the arrears ready to be paid by March 29, but when he managed to collect the amount plus an extra two months of rent by the due date, the Sheriff’s Office knocked, without warning, on his door to evict him.
Alex was forced out of the home with his two children.
On Good Friday, he was allowed to return to gather his possessions, but instead of doing so, along with community members, he pleaded with his landlord to honour their payment arrangement and stop the eviction – that’s when police showed up.
“I had to take a stand to defend my children,” said Alex, who wanted to go by his first name alone due to safety concerns for his children. “Matters between tenants and their landlords are civil matters. Any police force should not get involved in matters that are not criminal.”
“There's no justification to sending 26 cruisers to evict a single peaceful man, and his two children. That is inhumane.”
A video of the incident, shared widely on social media, shows more than 20 police cruisers parked outside the apartment building managed by social housing provider, Project Esperance, in Toronto’s west end.
Sam Nithiananthan with the People's Defence Toronto, an advocacy group fighting for tenants’ rights, told CTV News Toronto that community members banded together that day to pressure the landlord to accept the father’s payments.
The video shows officers forcing themselves through the locked door of Alex’s home. The officers can be seen asking community members to clear the area, and Nithiananthan said police shoved him and others to get out of the way.