Denial of access

Toronto Police and City of Toronto security deny access to journalists covering Alexandra Park encampment eviction

Toronto police and City of Toronto security denied journalists access to a public park and forced them to wait outside a fenced area while police and city security guards evicted residents from a homeless encampment. 

Police had set up orange fences around Alexandra Park early in the morning on July 20, 2021, the Toronto Star reported.

In an email to Toronto Star journalist Jennifer Pagliaro, City of Toronto spokesperson Brad Ross said that only people living in the encampment and city staff were allowed in the park, so that the city could “safely engage with the occupants.” Ross added that journalists were “free to report outside the fenced area.”

Photojournalist Chris Young, who arrived before the fences were erected, was arrested by city security and released with a notice of trespass.

After the Star’s lawyer contacted the city demanding access for pool journalists, including a broadcast camera, the city responded to make arrangements, but by that time the encampment had been cleared

In a later email shared by Pagliaro, Ross said that “allowing anyone inside the fenced area would put the safety of everyone at risk,” and that the city was concerned about the privacy of people living in the encampment. 

“When there are cameras inside the fenced area, our feeling was that it simply prolonged the event itself,” Ross said in a press briefing on July 21, 2021.