Occupy protesters defying eviction notices
Published Monday, November 7, 2011 10:36PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 6:29AM EDT
Occupy protesters are resisting municipal orders to leave and dismantle their three-week old camps in cities across Canada as eviction notices are being served and court injunctions sought.
Eviction notices have been served in Victoria, Quebec City and Vancouver, while officials in Halifax have struck a deal with demonstrators to move their tents for Remembrance Day ceremonies to be held at their camp site.
In Victoria, protesters rejected a notice of removal on Monday, marching past a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald on their way to deliver a letter to city hall.
The letter declares that the city of Victoria has failed to uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms right to peaceful assembly.
"There's somewhat a feeling of betrayal, if that's not putting it too melodramatically at this point," said Occupy Victoria spokesperson Anushke Nagji. She said that city council passed a motion a week ago supporting the camp.
Some protesters did try to clear part of the site to make way for a holiday season outdoor skating rink.
The city said on Monday it is considering an application to the B.C. Supreme Court for a court injunction.
Protester Rob Baron told CTV British Columbia that the protesters have made their point even if they get kicked out of the downtown square.
"If you remove the people from here, I don't think you realize how much support that we have gained from this statement we've been making down here," Baron said Sunday.
"This has been an education and an awareness process and that's all it has been."
In Vancouver, a notice to leave was also posted, asking that the camp be immediately dismantled.
The city listed a death that occurred on Saturday, a near-fatal drug overdose, fire safety, injection drug use, the presence of pests and other hazards as its reasons for eviction.
"Staff have been directed to end the encampment in a way that can be done safely and peacefully while respecting the right to protest," the notice, signed by city manager Penny Ballem, said.
Ballem told reporters on Monday afternoon that city lawyers will be in court Tuesday asking for a formal injunction.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has asked police and fire officials to look at strategies to "end the encampment as soon as possible."
The protesters have said they will not leave voluntarily.
As one Occupy Vancouver protester told CTV British Columbia on the weekend: "If they really want to come in and try to clear us out, we're going to stand our ground and what happens from there will happen."
Protesters in Quebec City were again told to leave by city officials on Monday, four days after serving an eviction notice.
Officials in the cities are agitating for the protesters to clear out of the public spaces they began occupying in recent weeks, citing health and safety concerns.
Police raided the site on Monday to take away firewood, tarps and other equipment.
There has already been a small fire in the Quebec City park where protesters are camped out, though no one was hurt in the incident last week.
City spokesperson Jacques Perron said the park is no longer safe, which is a problem because it is a public space that should be safe for everyone.
"We want them to leave the premises. Our message is very clear," Perron said. "They can just show up every day if they wish, but they need to leave at night. This is not a place for a permanent settlement."
Occupy protesters in Halifax, meanwhile, made a deal to temporarily relocate their camp so that that city officials could organize Remembrance Day ceremonies at the city's main cenotaph.
Dozens of the Haligonian protesters packed up their tents to move to a new location in the city but say they will return after the ceremonies have finished.
Occupy protests continue to take place in several other Canadian cities, including Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Calgary.
With files from The Canadian Press