Emotional end to Occupy Windsor

Members of Occupy Windsor confirmed with CBC News first that they will disband their encampment next to Senator David Croll Park beside City Hall.

Demonstrators will carry out their campaign through other means, tell of personal experiences

A member of Occupy Windsor talks about his experience at the camp. 1:17

Members of Occupy Windsor have decided to end their encampment at Senator David Croll Park, beside City Hall.

Members of the movement say they will immediately begin to remove their tents and begin cleaning up the public park they have occupied for 56 days. 

"We want to make sure as we leave the park it's left in the best condition we possible can," said Ken Lewenza Jr. who participated in the demonstration.

Several emotional members of the movement addressed the media and fellow protestors, telling of how they arrived at the camp and what it meant to them.

Paul Chislett, who has been in the camp since Day 1, says participants will now concentrate on other ways, such as campaigns, rallies and marches, to spread their messages.

"We believe the encampment has served its purpose to make a statement that we have a right to freely assemble and conduct a dialogue [about] the concerns we have about how the political and corporate control over our lives is undemocratic," Chislett said.

Chislett says there remains a lot of work spreading the messages about economic inequalities, unemployment, the homeless and other issues.

Demonstrators moved into the park Oct. 15. They remained peaceful throughout their stay and endured Coun. Drew Dilkens' failed request to have them obtain a permit for overnight camping in city parks.

Windsor Police and Mayor Eddie Francis never once asked the protestors to leave, despite being in violation of a city bylaw that prohibitis overnight stays in city parks. Lewenza Jr. said the "Windsor Police have been excellent."

Chislett said the impending winter played no roll in deciding to disband the camp.

"It really wasn't the cold weather. It was the fact that we didn't have enough people to carry through the committee work because the reality of running the camp took up a lot of time and energy," he said.

Amidst trying to run a camp complete with a mess hall, meeting tent and entertainment district of sorts, the members would still hold general assemblies and at times they marched on the downtown city streets shouting out their messages.

Chislett says it's an experience he won't forget. He says friendships were developed and maybe they can use that to reach out to more people.

"What I've learned is that it is possible for people with different viewpoints and life experiences ... to come together and work for a common cause," he said.