Occupy camp holds on in St. John's
One of the final known Occupy camps in Canada remains open for business, as it were, in downtown St. John's, and the city has no plans to evict Occupy Newfoundland from its seaside perch.
"They're not bothering anybody," said St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe, who told CBC News city council is fine with the small group of demonstrators who have been camping out at a small city park since Oct. 16.
"They're not a danger to themselves. They're not a danger to the public. They are there because they want to express an opinion. But we do not have an issue with them at this point in time."
On Tuesday, city workers and police evicted Occupy Fredericton from a public square.
A string of them were set up across the country after Occupy Wall Street ignited the imagination of activists who have been speaking out against corporate control, the super-wealthy and economic injustice, among other issues.
Occupy Newfoundland is set up at Harbourside Park, a scenic park that sits between Water Street and the nearby harbour. Because there is limited pedestrian traffic in the area, the Occupy camp does not interfere with daily life in the city.
The small number of activists who have been keeping the camp running say they have no plans to leave, even as winter chills set in.
"I've been seeing a need for the way politics is done. Our politicians now don't represent their constituents, they represent their financial backers," said Ken Canning, 19, a British Columbian who has lived in a tent for the last 80 days.
A local union has donated money to pay for a portable toilet, while electricity comes from a yellow extension cord plugged into a city outlet.
"The city maintenance have also said their job is a lot easier now that we're here, because they've been seeing a lot less vandalism and we're keeping it a lot cleaner than what it was," Canning said.
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Organizer Thomas Jordan sees some symbolic importance to the location of the camp, which also marks where Sir Humphrey Gilbert is believed to have landed in St. John's as he claimed Newfoundland as England's first colony.
"[He thus was] officially establishing the British Empire and introducing crony capitalism and colonialism to North America," Jordan said.
Jordan, who no longer spends nights at the camp, said people in St. John's are relaxed about its presence.
"Newfoundland is different in the sense that there is a real sense of community here, so people are a lot more tolerant," he said.
- A previous version of this report had identified St. John's as the last known Occupy camp in Canada. CBC News subsequently learned of a one-person camp in Moncton, N.B.Jan 06, 2012 2:35 AM NT
With files from Vik Adhopia