Victoria Park protesters evicted
Occupiers ask: Why today?
“Happy fucking Remembrance Day.”
Victoria Park echoed today with the shouts of the Occupy NS protesters. The 40 or so police, who were there on City Hall orders to remove the tents and camp equipment, were silent– for the most part.
Two lines formed early on: soaking wet occupiers, largely in black, facing a neon orange line of police. Police were stoic and polite, but turned violent at the first sign of resistance as occupiers tried to save their tents.
The estimated number of people detained has ranged from nine to 15. Police would not tell protesters the grounds for arrest. (Update: 14 people have been confirmed as arrested, on the grounds of obstruction of justice.)
Dave Ambler has been there since the start of the occupation. “We’re not doing anything wrong by being here. Now, camping, apparently there’s a bylaw. But the thing is, we’ve been camping here for a month. Why now? Why Remembrance Day?” he says.
“Why today? Our homes are destroyed anyways. Everyone’s down, no one’s on their toes.”
As Ambler talked, a small group of protesters started taking out their anger behind him–smashing glass and tearing tarps. Ambler rushed over.
“Why? Why? That’s awful!” he told them. “We’re better than that.”
Around 3:30 p.m, police gave protesters 10 minutes to move their tents before they would be seized, although at that point police had been removing tents for at least two hours.
The gathering of protesters, using a “mic check” form of announcement where one person shouts part of a sentence and the surrounding group echoes louder, decided 10 minutes was unreasonable. Instead, they moved what was left of their tents into a corner of the square and linked arms surrounding them.
Earlier, at around 2:30 p.m. when a line of protesters formed metres away from a line of police, the protester side seemed few. Most were young, in their 20s and 30s. By 4:00 p.m., when the tents were moved, their numbers had swelled to over 60 and growing.
“We’ve been beat on the ground,” they chanted, “by the police here today.”
“We demand that the mayor and the Chief of Police take responsibility for this assault.”
“And I will fight, every day of my existence, for the right to freedom that our veterans fought so hard to protect.”
Police liason Billy Lewis, a Mi’qmaq veteran, said the police’s position is “really clear. No negotiation. They refuse to negotiate with me as a representative.”
He was worried about getting back into the Grand Parade tomorrrow. “There aren’t many entrances and there aren’t many exits. There are going to be police at each of them.”
Tony Tracy is the Atlantic regional representative for the National Labour Congress, who gave $5,000 to Occupy NS. “I’m absolutely impressed by the community spirit,” he said.
“What has happened today, on Remembrance Day, ordering the police to come and evict these folks, is outrageous. It flies in the face of Remembrance Day and the meaning of it. Veterans fought for the right of free speech, the right of free assembly, the right of free protest.”
“This is an outrageous attack on veterans.”
Dan Wieb was at a Second Cup when he heard the news of the eviction. “I think it’s ridiculous,” he said. “They were accommodating for the Remembrance Day ceremony, peacefully.”
Wieb is a graduate student of sociology at Dalhousie. He is not involved with Occupy in any way, but said “It seems to be something really significant happening. And it seems to be growing in strength, which is why in my opinion this kind of clamp down is happening worldwide.”