Occupy Regina continues on after being evicted from Victoria Park
City Hall may have given Regina’s Occupiers the boot from Victoria Park, but according to the protesters, it ain’t over.
“Nothing has really changed other than we see how the mayor and City Hall [are] willing to apply bylaws beyond the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which the Charter trumps by-laws,” said Marc Spooner, Occupy activist and University of Regina sociology professor. “We’ve seen how they are willing to use force.
“City Hall and the bylaw enforcement people are willing to invoke the police to do their work of forcibly removing these people. [They are] giving [protestors] bogus tickets that I am sure they are all going to fight and in my view they can’t really be applied.”
According to Spooner the Occupy movement is more than just camping in the park.
“The Occupy movement hasn’t gone anywhere for one thing,” he said. “One small part [of] the visible face of it – the camping in Victoria park – is gone for now. I think it is not gone forever. I think it will continue to pop up in different places.
“[The camping was] just the tip of the visible iceberg, that so annoyed those who were downtown and City Hall, because it had to visibly see everyday that we have a homelessness problem, that we have racism, that we have all these issues that occupiers bring up.
“Those who were actually in the park [were] a visible tangible reminder. An eyesore one might say. Behind it was an iceberg of people.”
Although the camp is for now gone from Victoria Park, occupy activists still have plans for being visible in Regina.
Anthony Spencer, an Occupy Regina participant wrote an email Saturday night to all Occupy Regina participants.
“You cannot evict an idea,” he declared. “We have some very exciting things planned in the near future.”
Future events include a rally on Saturday at Victoria Park, starting at noon.
As for the eviction itself, while Occupiers for now are staying out of the park, participants do not agree with it and say it is just another example of how people in city hall are abusing there power.
Spooner said City Hall’s reason for serving the eviction notice, which it cited as being for safety purposes, is deeply and sadly ironic.
“Even [Sunday] night as they issued the eviction notices and tickets, two people went to call mobile crisis unit and they could only find room for one. So they were willing to leave this person without shelter at midnight, alone outside in the cold,” Spooner said. “That was City Hall. So you can’t tell me that it had anything to do with safety, because she was safer in the park. She had shelter and people around [t]here.”
Spooner went on to say that creation of The Parks and Open Spaces Bylaw sections 5(1) and 8(1)(c) is just another example of City Hall and the Regina Police Service using their power to get what they want, even if it makes no sense.
“There is a video of some guy videotaping from the sidewalk and the police tried to tell him that the sidewalk was part of the park. And I have had a call out to both City Hall and the Regina Police Service about. ‘Is the perimeter of the park the sidewalks of the park; is that part of the park?’” Spooner said. “So [if] that goes under the[ir] new by-law Parks and Open Spaces. The argument is if the sidewalk is an open space, then no one can use the sidewalk after 11 p.m. You can’t have it both ways.”
People who want to stay connected to the Regina movement can check visit 99percent.ca.
Occupy Regina is not the only camp in Canada that is getting run out by City Hall officials and police.
On Nov. 21, occupiers in Edmonton were served with an eviction notice. Safety and public health concerns were cited as the reason for the eviction. Protesters came to a decision made by a general assembly Saturday night that they will stay in the park.
Although the Occupiers are in a city park, a private company, Melcor Developments Ltd., owns the land. If occupiers don’t leave, the company plans to issue a complaint to Edmonton police to remove any trespassers, and may hold protesters liable for the costs associated with the removal of property, garbage, and waste from the site.
The camp, which was also given an eviction deadline of Sunday, Nov. 21, went from 70 tents to 12 tents by the deadline.
Occupiers were in front of the B.C. Supreme Court Justice Terence Schultes Friday, arguing that the freedom of speech allowed them to say. The judge ruled that their argument just wasn’t strong enough to trump the city’s enforcement of its bylaws.
Surprisingly, out of all the cities in Canada, Montreal is tolerating the Occupiers. Mayor Gérald Tremblay said the campers in Victoria Square can keep protesting corporate greed so long as they don’t build wooden structures.
After weeks of these controversial camp, Occupiers started packing up Sunday, well before their deadline of Monday. It was reported that organizers said individuals who wish to remain at the site are free to stay and can get arrested if they choose to, but the group consensus was to move on.
A Superior Court judge ruled Monday that the Occupy Toronto protesters must pack up their tents and leave St. James Park. Shortly after, city officials, flanked by police, arrived at the park to post new trespass notices to Occupiers’ tents that are on church property.