Occupy Vancouver moves protest site a block away
Published Monday, November 21, 2011 10:56PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 6:38AM EDT
Boisterous but compliant Occupy Vancouver protesters pulled down their tents and marched from the site of their five-week-old demonstration Monday, after a judge ruled with the city and ordered the demonstrators out of the park.
But instead of clearing out of downtown, the protesters simply picked up stakes and moved one block to the south, to the provincial courthouse.
Since the property is owned by the province, protesters say that it isn't subject to the city's court injunction. The city, meanwhile, says that it wants to ensure that the art gallery site remains vacated and has no current role in the new courthouse camp.
At the new encampment site, protester Sarah Beuhler said that the vibe was exhilarating as demonstrators set up their new home.
"People thought this was the end of Occupy, and it turns out it's just the beginning of a new chapter," Beuhler told CTV British Columbia.
While the move was for the most part peaceful, one protester was arrested. Police had to cordon off the area when other protesters congregated in the middle of the street to decry the man's arrest.
At the same time in Toronto, Occupiers in a downtown park faced a near-identical fate after a judge's ruling likened the ongoing protest to trespassing.
It was a scene that was playing out across the country, as cool temperatures and court rulings began to take down the pro-equality protest movement.
In Vancouver, a court ruling gave protesters until 2 p.m. local time Monday to clear out their encampment. At the time of the deadline, protesters could be seen marching out of the makeshift camping area, which was located in front of the city's art gallery.
Some of the demonstrators yelled out slogans like "the status quo has got to go" and "we are the 99 per cent" as they left.
One group of protesters hoisted up the skeleton of a disassembled tent as they marched.
"It's nowhere near the end and I have a strong feeling that this will be a catalyst for a global revolution, but I would like to call it evolution," said Jordan Aleister-Malcolm, 18, in an interview with The Canadian Press.
Aleister-Malcolm, who was smearing green "peace paint" on other activists' faces, said that the protest will live on, despite the crackdown.
"Other cities in North America are trying to force us out and it just shows that the state is afraid of us threatening their way of life and their way of doing things."
Some demonstrators pointed out that their goal of providing an effective subculture amid the corporate towers of downtown had been a success.
Organizers said that over the five-week camp-in, about 30,000 meals were served and about 100 patients received treatment at a medical tent each day. About 30 homeless people were also given temporary shelter.
"An amazing thing happened at Occupy Vancouver," Eric Hamilton-Smith told CP.
Vancouver protesters announced later Monday that their demonstration will move on to Phase 2, which calls for so-called "flash occupations" at locations around the city, such as SkyTrain stations and shopping malls.
"Future occupations may take many different forms; some community based, others more disruptive," said protester Suresh Fernando.
On Monday, Ontario Superior Court Judge David Brown dismissed Occupy Toronto members' application to block an eviction notice, saying the city's request to clear out its park was "constitutionally valid."
In Ottawa, Occupy protesters were also handed eviction notices Monday, saying they had to leave by midnight.
Some campers there have already packed up and left and the group's official Twitter account called for volunteers to assist them with the cleanup Monday.
Cities around the country have been cracking down on the Occupy movement over the past few weeks. Protests in London, Ont. and Saskatoon were cleared out with little trouble.
A Remembrance Day eviction in Halifax left 14 people arrested and had some locals fuming, but police have since enforced a no-camping in public parks policy without incident.
Protests in Victoria and Edmonton have whittled down to just a handful of people.
Occupy Edmonton protesters were to vote Monday on whether to stay in the park they had been camping in for the past month.
The owner of the park, Melcor Developments, filed a formal trespassing complaint Sunday after protesters refused to leave when asked.
A recent onset of cold winter weather has coincided with a noticeable thinning of Occupy campsites in western Canada. Temperatures fell to -30 degrees Celsius in Edmonton on Saturday.