Occupy Victoria tent protesters vow to stay until changes made

Diverse crowd shares discontent at demonstration through city streets

Star

Star

Occupy Victoria protesters who set up a tent city at Centennial Square say they will remain until evicted or the social and economic problems that led to the protest are solved.

There’s no chance police will be ordered to evict the protest campers, Mayor Dean Fortin said Monday .

“We don’t see any need at this time,” said Fortin who praises the Occupy Victoria movement and its international counterparts as “citizen participation and one of the emerging issues of our times.”

While the police are aware he supports the Occupy Victoria movement, Fortin said he has not told police how to treat the protesters because “it is totally inappropriate for the mayor to interfere with police operations.”

Fortin said “people have an urgent need to be involved in the events and process that shape their lives.”

Const. Mike Russell, Victoria police media spokesperson, said police actions are designed to “work with rather than against” the protesters, adding the  police have talked with the mayor and act accordingly.

Russell said no additional police manpower has been alloted to keeping an eye on the protest camp other than the “typical patrol” Centennial Square normally undergoes.

At least 17 tents occupied by about 30 protesters have been on the site since the Saturday launch of the Occupy Victoria protest that saw demonstrations by several hundred people at Centennial Square, on the B.C. legislature grounds, and a march through downtown Victoria by more than 1,000 people.

Occupy Victoria protesters said the mayor could easily have used his power to order police to disrupt two Occupy Victoria protests – the downtown protest by the recently founded People’s Assembly of Victoria and a similar demonstration by another group called We Are Change Victoria, on the B.C. legislature grounds earlier the same day and attended by about 300 people.

“The mayor being on side is huge,” said Anushka Nagji, 25, one of the People’s Assembly organizers and a University of Victoria law student who graduates in April. “He has a lot of power and was in a position to allow or not allow it to happen.”

She said she is “heartened” at the friendly police attitude towards the Occupy Victoria protesters.

Fellow organizer Rob Rao, 34, said Fortin could have called in police to evict the campers because of a city bylaw that says tents and other temporary structures put up in public parks can only stay in place between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and must then be dismantled.

Unlike the B.C. legislature grounds demonstration that had a letter of approval from the province, the people behind the Centennial Square protest and march did not have permits from the city and were technically illegal.

Rao said the overwhelming majority of people involved in Saturday’s demonstration were individuals who said they would not normally get involved in public protest but are increasingly upset at corporate and bank control of the economy that is crushing jobs, destroying social programs, and telling governments what to do.

Josh Steffler, spokesman for the We Are Change Victoria which is not tied to the People’s Assembly, said Fortin was correct in allowing Occupy Victoria to proceed without interference.

“It would have been easy for him to say, ‘No, they don’t have a permit (for Saturday’s protest and the tent city)” and tell the police, ‘Please remove them’.”

Even though the city has now shut down power outlets to Centennial Square, the protesters said it is just a minor inconvenience.

 

 

Just Posted

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

A pub patio in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Patio and picnic dining could mean a free meal for Greater Victoria patrons

Local celebrities pick up the tab with latest Greater Victoria chamber contest

Greater Victoria School District (SD61) Saturday announced a COVID-19 exposure at Oak Bay High School. (Black Press Media File).
Oak Bay High School subject of COVID-19 exposure

Greater Victoria School District (SD61) said possible exposure happened June 9-10

St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria bishop apologizes for church’s role in residential schools

Bishop Gary Gordon voices commitment to healing and reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read