Volume 93, Issue 18

Thursday, September 29, 1999


Councillor asks for student vote on pay

Cola deal foes flat at U of T

Pot charges put on shelf by crown

Toronto police prevent march to take back night


Buzz Mecca

Caught on campus

Toronto police prevent march to take back night

By Stephanie Cesca
Gazette Staff

An annual street march in Toronto, intended to voice women's concerns about street safety, was brought to a screeching halt by the police last Saturday.

According to Gillian Morton, co-ordinator of the Women's Centre at the University of Toronto, the 25th annual Take Back the Night March was stopped by the police.

Morton explained the marchers were criticizing the police for their efforts in capturing the Scarborough rapist. "That was mentioned several times during the march," she said.

Morton also said she felt the police had lashed out against the annual event as a form of retaliation. The police have received a lot of criticism in the past couple of years for the manner in which they handle assault cases involving women, she added.

"So I think there have been a number of community activists who have made a certain number of gains and I think [the police] were angry about that," Morton said. She added the parade was halted only a block from where it began.

Toronto police, however, said they were unaware of any police activity intervening with the march's progress. "We haven't heard of anybody stopping the parade," said Nancy Lawrence, corporate communications of the Toronto police.

However, Deb Parent, a staff member for the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape, the centre which helped organize the Toronto march, confirmed the police halt. "We don't know why [they halted it] either."

Parent said the police were demanding to see a permit for the march, which the centre did not have. "There were just a number of – I guess you could call them – harassing comments from the police," she said.

She added the marchers refused to move until the cruisers left. "We weren't going to let the state dictate what we could and could not do."

"It was very well attended," said Angela Robertson, executive director of Sistering, a women's issues organization. "There were a lot of high school students as well as university students."

Barb MacQuarrie, committee member of Women for Action, Accountability and Against Violence Everywhere, said the committee, which organized the same march in London, said the London police helped W.A.A.A.V.E with the event. "We are fortunate to have a good relationship with the police," she said. She added the police helped plan routes for the march as well as supervise it.

MacQuarrie added she was somewhat surprised to hear about the quarrel at Toronto's march but said she could understand why feelings and tensions were running high at the Toronto march.

MacQuarrie said Western's Student Issues Network along with approximately 250 community members participated in the event in London.

Laurie Kovacic, member of W.A.A.A.V.E, also commended Western's participation. "I saw a handful of women who belonged to the Women's Issues Network and also the radio station," she said.

To Contact The News Department:

Copyright The Gazette 1999