Occupy Toronto protesters defy eviction order
Some chained to yurt in preparation for police arrival
Posted: Nov 22, 2011 3:41 AM ET
Last Updated: Nov 22, 2011 9:57 PM ET
Occupy Toronto protesters have spent Tuesday in St. James Park, their presence largely unchanged despite a judge’s ruling a day earlier that deemed the camp illegal.
On Monday, Justice David Brown issued a ruling that upholds city-issued eviction orders that demand protesters take down their tents and stop camping in the park between 12:01 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.
Police told CBC News on Tuesday they want to give protesters more time to leave, but most say they plan to stay. More than 100 tents still remained by late afternoon.
"It really looks like any other day here at Occupy Toronto," CBC's Trevor Dunn reported. "The only difference was that last night's stay here was illegal. It looks like police are in no hurry to evict these protesters and the protesters are in no hurry to leave."
A small number of police officers did arrive at the park throughout the day, but Insp. Gary Meissner said it was only to monitor the "level of compliance" at the park.
In addition to overnight camping, the bylaw prohibits the use of tents and structures in the park. Dunn reported that some of the camp dwellings have been fortified with wood and chains in anticipation of a possible eviction.
Many protesters promise to resist any move to evict them using non-violent tactics, such as forming a human chain and going limp.
Two of three yurts donated by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union have been dismantled. But four protesters have chained themselves to the one remaining yurt, which has been fortified with plywood and two-by-fours over the past 24 hours.
'That's now how you win freedom'
Protester Brandon Gray, one of those chained, said police "are going to have a tough time.
"We're going to remain peaceful but we're also not going to just go shuffling off into the darkness. That's not how you win freedom."
Gray said resisting eviction will bide more time so that "thousands and thousands" of people can flood the park in support.
Coun. Norm Kelly, chair of the city's Parks and Environment Committee, said the city wants the protesters to find another way to get their message across.
"We're hoping that increasingly the people who remain would come to the conclusion that it's in their best interests, the best interests of the movement, to vacate the park and continue to protest if they want," he said. "But to do so within a legal context and one that would be publicly supported."
At midnight, many residents showed up to support protesters in the park, which is at the corner of King Street East and Church Street. Most supporters left when it became clear that protesters would not be evicted from their camp, which has been in place since an international day of protest Oct. 15.
Police won't say when they'll move in.
Occupy showdowns across Canada
The Occupy protests are part of a global movement whose supporters seek to address what they say is growing economic disparity.
The camps have pitted protesters against civic officials and police across the country.
Meanwhile, a B.C. Supreme Court justice granted the attorney general Tuesday an injunction to move Occupy Vancouver protesters off the courthouse grounds at Robson Square, less than 24 hours after they relocated from city-managed land outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Monday.
Some Occupy Toronto protesters maintain their eviction notice does not apply to the parkland alongside St. James cathedral.
But Rev. Douglas Stoute reiterated at a press conference on Monday that, although the church has a clear title to a portion of the park, they would not be offering a safe haven to protesters.
Camp leads to council debate
Meanwhile, members of Toronto city council continue to debate how the city is handling the occupation.
Mayor Rob Ford said Monday he wants the protesters to respect the eviction order and leave peacefully.
The mayor did not state a deadline or say when police might move in.
Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam said the protesters should be "incredibly proud of themselves."
"They've been able to shift the dialogue in this city, and have raised some very important issues around income disparity and about what creates a just society," she said. "And I think it's important to understand that this is part of a global conversation that won't end here regardless of an eviction notice."
Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti, however, feels the protesters should have been removed from the park sooner.
"I think we should have done this after a couple of days after we realized that people were turning it into a Sherwood Forest kind of concept," he said. "We have Robin Hoods and makeshift Jesus walking around, pretending that the park is theirs when in reality, they've made a disaster of that park."
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