'Occupy' movement hits Calgary, Edmonton

Protests against financial inequality, which began on Wall Street and then spread around the world, landed in Calgary and Edmonton on Saturday.
A Calgary activist wearing a gas mask joins hundreds of other protesters rallying against corporate greed Saturday. ((Tara Weber/CBC))
Protests against financial inequality that began on Wall Street and then spread around the world landed in Calgary and Edmonton on Saturday.

Demonstrators gathered in both cities, and in cities across Canada, inspired by the grassroots Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City, which began weeks ago.

The marches and sit-ins are mainly centred around business districts, city halls and important economic venues as the demonstrators try to spread their message that financial institutions and corporate policies are to blame for an ever-widening gap between rich and poor.

In Calgary, about 300 protesters marched down Eighth Avenue S.W. and gathered outside Bankers Hall in the downtown core.

A sizeable contingent of police officers was on hand monitoring the scene, according to CBC reporter Tara Weber.

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"Occupy Edmonton" took place in Churchill Square, attracting hundreds of demonstrators as well.

Edmonton police spokesperson Dean Parthenis said officers anticipated a peaceful demonstration.

"It will be a light presence. By no means are officers expecting anything out of the ordinary," he said.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said there needs to be a balance between freedom of expression and the rights of other Calgarians to use the parks and walk safely downtown.

"I wish the people demonstrating every success but I also want to make sure that we understand that we value peaceful demonstration that we will allow that freedom of expression to happen," Nenshi said.

The city allowed people who came to the city for the protest to camp on St. Patrick's Island, across from Fort Calgary.

Chelsea Flook, one of the organizers of "Occupy Edmonton," said she sees growing anger from all segments of society.

"The older folks are wondering what they're leaving their grandchildren. Parents are wondering what they're going to feed their children. And students are wondering how they're going to deal with all this debt," she said.