Occupy Vancouver camp disbands after failed move
The Occupy Vancouver camp finally disbanded on Tuesday night, after five long weeks and after several dozen of the remaining protesters failed to establish a new camp at Grandview Park on Commercial Drive in East Vancouver.
The protesters took the SkyTrain to the park on Tuesday evening after they were evicted from the provincial courthouse grounds downtown at Robson Square by police.
Upon their arrival in Grandview park they were met by local residents, police and city officials who told them they were not welcome to set up camp in the park.
As police looked on, one protester reported to the group that the park closed at 10 p.m. PT and authorities needed no special permission to remove tents and occupants after that time.
After a long discussion in the rain, the protesters decided to head home for the night, but promised to meet again on Wednesday and discuss possible plans to set up camp in Stanley Park by the totem poles
But city manager Penny Ballem said any attempt to set up a camp in Stanley Park would be opposed by the city, which leases the land from the federal government.
The apparent end of the protest camp came after B.C. Supreme Court Justice Anne MacKenzie granted the attorney general an injunction to remove protesters from the court property Tuesday afternoon, saying she found the Occupy group to be a public nuisance and in contempt of court after she ordered them evicted from city-managed land outside the Vancouver Art Gallery Monday.
However, MacKenzie refused to give the province an additional measure that would have prevented the encampment from moving onto other public land, saying that would be speculative and an inappropriate use of the law.
Government lawyer Craig Jones asked for a broad injunction, saying the campers would otherwise move from property to property. He said protesters were "thumbing their nose" at the courts by simply picking up and moving to a new location after the city sought the first injunction.
Members of the protest group did not have legal representation at the hearing, saying the three lawyers who represented them pro bono last week had to catch up on other work.
Protesters immediately began packing up their tents and supplies, but say they will continue to protest at various locations throughout the city.
"There will be a, 'Where next?' I mean, it may not be tonight," said protester Suresh Fernando on Tuesday. "And we'll have to defend it in a court of public opinion ... as we build our legal case."
Vancouver police asked the protesters to obey the injunction and peacefully leave the courthouse, saying they would enforce the order if the protesters refuse to leave.
"Police are asking the protestors not to resist in any way that could jeopardize their safety," police said in a written release.
Police went on to say they worried "some people within the protesting group ... would like to see some precipitous actions that would spark a major confrontation with the police."
Evicted from art gallery
On Monday afternoon, the protesters were evicted from their campsite on the front lawn of the city's art gallery, so they picked up their camp and moved it one block away to the courthouse facility.
The protesters set up dozens of tents under the shelter of the law courts structure at Robson Square in the downtown core.
Premier Christy Clark responded immediately, saying the province would seek a new injunction to remove them from the new site first thing Tuesday morning.
Clarke said the relocation defies the spirit of the original injunction issued to the city on Friday by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Anne Mackenzie following three days of hearings.
"I think what the court intended is that they pick up and pack up. But all they have done is move," she said. "I think everybody is fed up with this. I'm fed up with this. The public is fed up with it."
But protester Matthew Kagis defended the move.
"I've been through the injunction process before back in the Clayoquot Sound days. Injunctions are basically the government's way of being a schoolyard bully," he said.
"So they'll get their injunction and they'll get it quickly, that's the way it works. I think Occupy is going to have to keep on its toes and be ready to be mobile."
Occupy Victoria dismantled
Meanwhile, in Victoria, police staged a pre-dawn removal of the last remaining campers at the Occupy Victoria encampment at Centennial Square outside city hall.
Officers moved in to dismantle eight or nine tents and relocated their occupants to area shelters or detox facilities. One woman was arrested but the rest left without incident.
Campers were ordered off the city square on Saturday, but several defied the injunction, forcing the city to get an enforcement order on Monday.
In Toronto, Occupy protesters remained camped in St. James Park on Tuesday morning, defying an order issued by a judge a day earlier that deemed the camp illegal.
With files from The Canadian Press