Toronto Police Presence at DIY Events

A flash mob took to the streets of Toronto last month offering a mix of fun, dance music and old-school attire despite a strong police presence almost a quarter the size of the crowd.

“You do this at home in your own house, but when you take it to the streets and out to the public it makes it unpredictable,” said organizer Tom, who refused to give his last name.

“People don’t know what this is.”

The event known as Tom and Gary’s Decentralized Dance Party took place as part of the 33rd Rhubarb Festival, a do-it-yourself event dedicated to artists using public spaces for adventurous performance. The dance party drew a tiny crowd on Front St. in its first hour that was also joined by a small army of police.

“It doesn’t make any sense except to have it and have fun.” said Tom in response to the police presence.

“This is fun and people are here to enjoy it,”

The improper use of police personnel follows the alleged inappropriate action taken on protestors at City Hall in January. The rally took place in response to Mayor Rob Ford’s proposed budget cuts and turned violent when citizens were met with police force as they attempted to enter the building. Two women left the incident with neck injuries, while EMS attended to others who were slightly wounded or blinded by pepper spray.

The dance party was tame in comparison to the protest at City Hall, yet police turned up by the dozen.

“Police are definitely needed in more important situations around Toronto like murders, rapes, assaults, among other various crimes,” said Jason Menard, a promoter and organizer of do-it-yourself events in Toronto for the past seven years.

“Partying and having fun safely is not a crime. Sending police to bust us is a waste of tax payer’s money and police time.”

The swarm of police scattered in front of Union Station to combat any difficulties that might arise from the flash mob did not discourage people from enjoying the party, but their presence was overbearing and uncomfortable.

“I’m just coming here to meet interesting people and enjoy it…I like this type of thing so I came down and it’s actually pretty interesting,” said Njoroge Mungai, a local dance music aficionado.

“Usually Toronto is the type of city that is not very open to these types of occurrences. I love the boom boxes and the Adidas too; it’s totally like an old-school jam. I almost expect someone to break down some cardboard and start break dancing”

Written for: Fundamentals of Reporting at George Brown College in Toronto

Instructor: Vernon Clement Jones

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