British Columbia

Occupy Vancouver protest wins overnight reprieve

The City of Vancouver and a lawyer for the Occupy Vancouver protesters will return to court Wednesday as the city attempts to win a court injunction against the art gallery encampment.

Police move in on London, Ont., protest

Late-night Occupy tensions in Vancouver

10 years ago
A fire at Occupy Vancouver has sparked new conflict between demonstrators and officials 2:28

The City of Vancouver’s efforts to obtain a court injunction against the protest occupation of the city’s art gallery property will have to wait until Wednesday.

The delay was granted in order to give Michael McCubbin, the newly retained lawyer for Occupy Vancouver, time to prepare his arguments.

Penny Ballem, Vancouver's city manager, said Monday that city lawyers would ask the court to close down the 25-day-old camp.

Police move in on London, Ont., protesters

Police in London, Ont., moved in on the local Occupy protesters' encampment shortly before 1 a.m. ET on Wednesday, the CBC's Kerry McKee reported.

Mayor Joe Fontana and the city's police chief had issued a warning to protesters there, calling on them to leave the city park by Tuesday evening. Fontana said if they didn't, they would be evicted.

Two deadlines on Tuesday — at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET — had originally passed without incident, with protesters saying they planned to form a human chain.

It's the first time authorities have attempted to evict protesters who have set up camp as part of the Occupy protests in Canada.

- CBC News and The Canadian Press

"We would like the court to give us an injunction to give us the full authority to actually take action," Ballem said.

"The injunction gives us further authority to help them remove their belongings if they're not willing to do it themselves."

Ballem also stressed that the city was not trying to shut down the protest, but to end the encampment.

Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu also said Tuesday that Occupy Vancouver protesters needed to pack up their encampment or face arrest.

Chu told reporters that a clash Monday night between police, firefighters and protesters proves it is no longer a peaceful exercise. He said protesters bent on violence have gone over the line.

"Last night, this element fought with firefighters and police, sending two police officers to hospital with human bite wounds," Chu said.

"Our officers received the full wrath of the protesters. In the scuffle, one officer had his ammunition clip stolen. This can no longer stand."

Chu said the once-peaceful protest has been infiltrated by dangerous people, creating a divide within the camp between militant and peaceful protesters.

He said police are still hoping for a peaceful end, but are prepared to move in and take down the encampment if the protesters refuse to leave.

Chu would not comment on when police might move in, how many officers would be deployed or whether he expected the situation to turn violent.

Notice given

On Monday, the city issued a formal notice asking protesters to remove their tents and belongings immediately, due to safety concerns. 

[IMAGEGALLERY galleryid=1403 size=small]

The sudden urgency is linked to the death of 23-year-old Ashlie Gough, who was found dead inside a tent on Saturday.

There was also a near-fatal overdose last week, and the fire department said it was concerned that the encampment was becoming too dangerous for people to move around safely.

If the injunction is granted, city staff would have the go-ahead take the structures down.

Ballem said the protest has been peaceful, but Vancouver police officers will be present to protect city workers when the encampment is dismantled.

"If any of my staff get threatened by someone who's not interested in having their tent folded up nicely, they have to be protected."

The reaction from Occupy Vancouver residents varied. Some protesters said the only way the tents will come down is if the protesters are first taken away in handcuffs. Others said they'd like to get a lawyer and challenge the city in court

Mayoral debate disrupted

Just hours after Ballem announced the city was seeking an injunction, protesters heckled two Vancouver mayoral candidates at a scheduled public debate just blocks from the encampment.

More than 1,000 people attended the at St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church to hear Gregor Robertson and Suzanne Anton debate around the topic of homelessness and affordable housing. Their suggestions were often booed. During the question period, speakers were cut off by others in the crowd.

With tensions running high, extra police officers were called in. Though no physical confrontations took place at the church, a conflict erupted a few hours later at the Occupy camp.

Police, protesters clash

20-minute video posted to YouTube shows a Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services crew being blocked from putting out a fire at the Occupy Vancouver camp —  a fire that some at the site described as a sacred First Nations fire.

Occupy Vancouver protesters formed a protective circle around the fire, and police officers moved in to pull them apart.

What follows on the video is about 15 minutes of pushing, shouting and chanting.

A few of the activists were pushed to the ground by police officers, who left once the fire crew was finished.

Canadian camps confronted

At the Occupy Victoria camp Tuesday morning, police were preparing to arrest a man who allegedly threw urine on a city worker.

After the suspect climbed a tree in Centennial Square, police officers said they would wait until the man came down from his perch before attempting to take him into custody.

Meanwhile, the City of Victoria has said it will go to B.C. Supreme Court next Tuesday to seek an injunction allowing it to remove tents and other belongings at the Occupy camp.

Mayor Dean Fortin said the space in Centennial Square is needed to set up a temporary skating rink and to make repairs to the fountain.

With files from the CBC's Ben Hadaway, Tim Weekes, Mike Clarke and Steve Lus