Occupy Toronto gets its marching orders; police take a hands-off approach to the eviction
Yesterday, a judge ruled that it was within the city’s rights to evict Occupy Toronto from St. James Park. Some protesters responded by leaving the park, while many others, including a group of particularly committed Occupiers who chained themselves to the library yurt, seemed less inclined to pack up and ship out. The police, meanwhile, said they’ll give protesters time to clear out, a marked departure from how they dealt with demonstrators at last year’s G20.
The Toronto Star has the details:
City sources say demonstrators will be given “some time” to vacate—at least until Wednesday morning, but perhaps longer if progress is being made. City parks staff are on site to help anyone move who asks. At press time, they had taken down two tents.
Officials expect the majority of Occupy Toronto protesters to be cooperative, but a faction of hardliners has made it clear they have no plans to leave. “A dozen, maybe two, they want the photo of being dragged away,” said one official. When asked if the police service is prepared to physically move demonstrators, spokesman Mark Pugash said: “We don’t ever discuss what our plans are,” but that facilitating a “peaceful protest” has been a priority from the beginning. Police and city staff have been meeting regularly and a plan is in place to handle “every scenario,” said another official. City hall can not order the police to move in. That call is Chief Bill Blair’s to make.
So it seems the police are adopting a hands-off, let’s-not-have-another-G20-fiasco tactic, wherein they bide their time and hope the protest takes care of itself. Of course, things could still get ugly—the fishing line those men wrapped around the library yurt suggests that they won’t be leaving anytime soon—but given that some of the larger structures are already starting to be taken down, a G20 repeat appears unlikely.
Of course, it’s easy to forget that the G20 weekend was, in many ways, an anomaly. Part of what made the weekend so disturbing was not only that police responded the way they did but that it was such a departure from their usual approach. Hopefully, this sort of policing is a return to normal.
• With eviction imminent, what’s next for Occupy Toronto? [Toronto Star]
• Occupy Toronto prepares for eviction [Toronto Star]
• Results vary as Occupy protesters react to eviction deadlines [Globe and Mail]
• Occupy Toronto: Protesters stay put overnight despite eviction ruling [National Post]