Spring is here, and so is the end of the school year (and Mayor Kelly’s mayoral career), but one thing appears to be missing: Occupy Nova Scotia. Where is the movement that was so strong last fall?
Occupy Nova Scotia participants have been meeting on a weekly basis to make sure the movement does not just fizzle out. These meetings are called General Assemblies (GA). Anyone can attend, vote on proposals and pitch their own ideas.
So far, there have been no successful proposals to launch a full-scale, long-term occupation of a public space, like the one Haligonians saw in October. Since their eviction from Grand Parade in November, Occupy has been involved with supporting other events and demonstrations, such as the Student Day of Action.
On March 24, all six participants who were present at a Direct Action Meeting held at Saint Mary’s University’s Loyola Building voted to initiate a new stage of the movement they called “Preoccupation.”
Rather than going into a public space full force, the hope is that this strategy will gauge the reaction that Occupy would get on different levels as it becomes more active. This involves other ways to get participants out on the streets, including food servings and shorter, temporary occupations.
The participants, however, have new problems to face. At the GA on March 20, it became evident that some people believe the police are using the new strategy to discourage protesting.
Rather than making arrests and releasing protesters within a few days, charges are now being laid. Even if a suspect is not found guilty, the time from being charged and going to court, and everything involved between that, is punishment.
In the United States, legislation has already been passed that some Occupy participants believe is directed at them. According to its official summary, the Trespass Bill or H.R. 347, imposes “criminal penalties on anyone who knowingly enters any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority.”
“It’s lovingly known as the anti-Occupy law,” says Kelly Dawn, an active participant with Occupy Nova Scotia.
“Their challenges are finding loopholes in the newer laws specifically designed to hinder the Occupy process, whereas here in Canada it’s a bit different. It is taking a lot longer than anticipated on the government’s side for the legislation to actually pass.”
Occupy Nova Scotia may not come out of hibernation running, and nothing is certain for this summer. However, the direction the movement will take is likely to become clearer as Preoccupation begins.