Eviction threats loom over Canadian 'Occupiers'
Published Sunday, November 13, 2011 10:50PM EST
Demonstrators at Occupy Vancouver brought their camp in line with fire safety codes this weekend, temporarily dodging an eviction threat that looms over similar protests across Canada.
Fire officials spent Saturday morning measuring the distance between tents set up outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. By noon, inspectors declared the site to be safe.
Despite the approval, Occupy Vancouver still remains one of several camps across Canada that faces the threat of eviction from municipal officials.
The City of Vancouver is applying for a court injunction to remove the tents from the Vancouver Art Gallery lands. The argument is scheduled for next Wednesday.
"The key message is that we support the right of people to protest, but there should be no tent city," Vancouver city councillor Geoff Meggs told CTV British Columbia.
Meanwhile, protesters in Regina and Victoria have been asked to dismantle their encampments and city officials in Toronto have said they will soon announce a plan to remove Occupiers.
Health and safety has been a major sticking point between Canadian Occupy protesters and municipal officials.
The death of a 23-year-old woman at Occupy Vancouver and a suspected drug overdose at Occupy Toronto last week did nothing to help quell those concerns.
The BC Coroners Service said Sunday that a drug overdose caused the death of Ashlie Gough. Coroner Owen Court said toxicology tests found both cocaine and heroin in her system.
Gough was found unresponsive in her tent on November 5. Court said she likely died hours before she was found.
London, Ont. became the first Canadian city to oust protesters last week, citing safety as a reason. Halifax N.S. followed with a heated confrontation between demonstrators and police.
Occupy Halifax mulls next move
Protesters in Halifax called on the city's mayor to resign this weekend after demonstrators were evicted from their camp in an intense stand-off with police.
Roughly 300 protesters gathered in a city square on Saturday, demanding that Mayor Peter Kelly step down for ordering the eviction of Occupy Halifax demonstrators.
Fourteen protesters were arrested and many charged with obstruction of justice when police entered Victoria Park to dismantle the Occupy Halifax encampment on Friday.
Many demonstrators have alleged that police were abusive during the confrontation, a charge that Halifax police spokesperson Theresa Rath has denied.
"They were pushing and shoving us and pulled me up by the throat," protester Courtney Redden said. "But I'm very empowered by this -- it's much stronger."
Mayor Kelly had said protesters at Victoria Park were in violation of a bylaw that prohibits camping in a municipal park without written consent from the city.
Internet group backs Occupy Toronto
Further west, Occupy Toronto has received the support of an online group purporting to be the infamous ‘Anonymous' hacking collective.
In a video posted to YouTube, the group threatened a cyber-attack on Mayor Rob Ford if he moved forward with plans to oust Occupy Toronto demonstrators.
"It seems next week authorities want to put an end to the Occupy movement in Toronto. We, Anonymous are taking that as an interruption and we will not let that happen," the group said.
"We will not let the city or the mayor that uses vulgar language in public get involved."
This wouldn't be the first time the "hactivist" collective has thrown their support behind the Occupy movement.
Last October, Anonymous threatened a cyber-attack on the New York Stock Exchange website in support of demonstrators who were arrested during Occupy Wall Street protests. The threat did not materialize.
With files from The Canadian Press and reports from CTV British Columbia's Jon Woodward and CTV Toronto's Colin D'Mello