rejoice! rejoice! the park has re-opened. minus the picnic tables. minus the hedges. minus the benches without metal bars. minus the grass, as sad as the grass was. but oh! rejoice! now we have artists for the summer doing “community enhancing” projects for the “users” of the park, now we have theater, music, square dancing. oh boy! what fun. what a GREAT park. oh… and don’t forget all the super media attention spouting the wonders of the “new,” “improved” park. take this headline : “aboriginal food and coffee are reshaping one of montreal’s roughest parks.” yup. nothing more aboriginal than a hotdog in a scone…with a coffee.
so, with the park being oh so “user” friendly, why am i seeing some of the former park regulars not at the new improved park, but hanging along the walkway leading to metro lionel-groulx? is there a new kind of surveillance of the park? i no longer see cops driving their vehicles into the park, honking their horns. i no longer see cops rushing out of the metro their batons in hand looking for a suspect. i no longer see cops stepping out of their cars and putting on their black latex gloves before grabbing a paper bag and pouring the contents over the ground. this is something different, less visible, but seemingly more effective at pushing certain people out.
but… as this testimonial (from the same news source as the aboriginal hotdogs) proves from a former “user” of the park, some people found a kind of “haven” in the old version of the park :
“From 1990 to 1993, I was a street kid. And this park was kind of was a hub for us and we mixed in with the Native community at that time. They used to call it ‘Drunk Park’ or ‘Pigeon Park.’ It was mostly Native and Inuit and a few street kids like myself kind of mixed in. It was dirty, it was scary, it was hard to walk through. We were getting drunk, getting stoned in the park, but it was also still kind of a haven for us.”
it is true… some people have nowhere to go. and this park was “kind of a haven” for people with nowhere to go. sure the park needed some care and attention, but here we go again, clearing out another place, making it available for “everyone”…everyone except the people who literally have no other place.
its complicated. complicated because dominant values of what is good and what is right, what is tolerable and what is not, are generally enforced through acts of violence. and ownership of territory is a violent act. but so too there is a violence enacted upon people when we strive to “do good for.” the imposition of values of what constitutes a good and proper life only serves to steal from that person their only true freedom. no-one can live another’s life. period.