It was almost 10 p.m. on Sunday night when I rushed to the cash machine at the TD Bank in Chinatown. The TD now locks the cash machine at 10 p.m. to prevent the homeless from sleeping in there. I was too late, the door was locked. Another customer arrived also to discover that he was too late.
A homeless guy -- I didn't ask him if he was homeless but he looked frail and had lots of missing teeth so I assumed he was homeless -- was standing there and said, "Don't worry, I'll open it for you." He pulled a card out of his wallet, stuck it in the door and flicked the lock open.
I knew he would hit us up for spare change, and he did. But he wasn't aggressive. As I walked north on Main St., he walked alongside me, chatting.
Suddenly, three armed men came toward us. One said "Excuse me, GET MOVING!!" I realized then that these guys had pulled up in an armoured car (on the right of photo above) and were entering the Royal Bank, presumably to pick up money. Now they owned the sidewalk.
We had been sauntering along and it would have been obvious to the guard that we would be past the Royal Bank in less than a minute.
I told the homelss guy that I felt like telling that guard that this sidewalk was public space. The homeless guy told me not to say anything, "They've got guns." I retorted, "I'm going to go back and take their picture when they come out." "NOOO!", he responded, "They've got guns!" I took a picture of their vehicle, but I stayed well back. They came out of the building about five minutes after verbally abusing us.
Churchill Armoured Car service passes Carnegie Center after picking up bags at RBC across the street.
I thought of the Pivot Legal Society report, "Security before Justice", that has just come out on the problem of homeless people being removed from public spaces by private security. Pivot's Laura Track told the media "They're limiting people's access to public space and relocating the homeless..." I also recall Track telling the media that this discrimination is often based on a person having the 'appearance' of being poor.
Although I would like to see Pivot criticize civil liberties abuses by publicly-funded security guards as much as they do private security, I can see what they mean about, "Security before Justice" in public spaces.
My mood was wrecked for an hour after being told to "GET MOVING!!".