Centre For Local Research into Public Space (CELOS)

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Citizen-Z Cavan Young's 2004 film about the zamboni crisis






CELOS (The CEntre for LOcal research into public Space) has been attending court, to follow up on local arrests. The inspiration for this is the work of Norwegian criminologist Nils Christie. Christie says that communities are a quilt, with conflicts forming part of what may bring us together as well as what drives us apart. All neighbourhood stories are important – not only the happy ones. The local stories that CELOS court visitors are following at the moment are as follows: one woman charged with drug dealing and assault, one company charged with illegal wine selling, one man charged with the fatal stabbing of his housemate in a fight, three men charged with possession of a gun in front of a strip club, one man charged with burning trash cans and a garage last year, and one man charged with sexual assault. To find out more, go to and click on research, then on courts, then on court visits working notes.

The court visits are all downtown – a gripping drama, partly like a cattle market, partly a layered, true-life tale of suffering and endurance. Not only the victims suffer, not only the people awaiting trial in jail, not only the families of people in trouble, but also the police officers, who must sit and wait for hours sometimes, for a case that gets 2 minutes of court time, only to be postponed again.

Courtrooms are public and Toronto’s citizens can attend any case they choose, if they want to learn more about how the justice system works. But so few people go to the hearings that the judges and the crown and defense lawyers are quite evidently astonished when they find an audience of even one unrelated person.

Content last modified on November 19, 2008, at 05:41 AM EST