As the Rob Ford Must Go sit-in at Toronto City Hall approaches 30 days of operation, the message remains clear: ‘We’re sitting until Ford goes.’
“We have very few rules,” says John Furr, an active member of the group, “It’s respectful, quiet, peaceful.”
However, the few rules don’t diminish the group’s end goal: to see Mayor Rob Ford removed from office. Through social media and word of mouth Furr, group organizer Chris Caple and other community activists encourage all Toronto citizens unsatisfied with Mayor Ford to join the sit-in outside Ford’s office.
Furr views time spent in the protest as an “investment,” meaning those coming to the sit-in need to feel their time on the second floor of City Hall will have some payoff.
“I don’t give up my time to sit around,” Furr said. “There has to be some payoff” – the payoff being the end of Ford’s mayoralty.
Caple began the sit-in Feb. 12, as Ford was trying to remove the Pride flag from the courtesy flagpole at City Hall. In a blog post on the Rob Ford Must Go website, Caple said Ford’s actions were “emboldening bigots, and making [Toronto] meaner, smaller, colder, and less welcoming.”
Furr agrees, calling Ford’s action to remove the Pride flag “the last straw.”
“When you start making residents of the city feel unsafe, you’ve crossed the line,” Furr said.
Since the protest began, the group has had at least one representative outside the mayor’s office during City Hall’s open hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays.
Furr boosts a more recent goal of the group: kicking the stereotype of a non-Ford supporter:
“Ford’s staff say ‘they’re unemployed, or they’re union guys, or they’re just lazy hippies…or downtown elite latte sippers.’ Yesterday afternoon, I’m sitting here, there’s three people from Scarborough, three people from Etobicoke, and one person from downtown – one person from downtown and six from [Ford’s] base.
“There’s ward diversity, there’s socio-economic diversity,” Furr said.
Much like the crush of media monitoring the elevator outside Ford’s office, the Rob Ford Must Go group has become a fixture on City Hall’s second floor. Their presence is noticed.
“Some of their staff are polite and come by and try to be polite, some of them take photos of us, like they’re deliberately trying to intimidate [us],” Furr says.
Supportive councillors regularly stop by to say hello. Coun. Shelley Carroll even dropped off a batch of muffins – a sign of support for their cause, said another sit-in attendee, Erika Wybourn.
“They’re very civil, [they] say ‘hi’ and notice our group is growing. It’s really very nice,” Wybourn said.