Occupy Toronto clears out, makes plans

On Twitter this morning I found a live stream and chat from Occupy Toronto.  I wandered into it right about the point where the protesters were in the process of decamping.  At around 9am local time the cops made an appearance and officially requested that the protesters leave, after which things got underway.  The prevailing mood was one of civility and optimism, and when the protesters started leaving, they did so in a peaceful, organized way, and on their own speed:

Occupy Toronto’s 39-day encampment at St. James Park ended peacefully Wednesday, with a handful of arrests and few altercations with police.

Eleven people were arrested in all and most were released on site with trespassing tickets, rather than criminal charges.

All of the tents and other structures had been cleared by 6 p.m., while the protesters held their evening general assembly at Nathan Phillips Square.

Oh well, there’s always a few, eh?

This is the first time I’ve watched coverage of any protest other than Occupy Vancouver or Victoria and it was impressive.  Occupy Toronto seemed organized, positive and peaceful, in stark contrast to their trainwreckish sister protests out west.

Right now they’re having a “general assembly” meeting to talk about the last 40 days and think about their next move.  With the attitude these protesters have, there’s no doubt that a next move is imminent.

Now, what happened to the Yurt?  I hope it’s okay, it was so cool!

Occupy Toronto Yurt

12 Responses to “Occupy Toronto clears out, makes plans”

  1. 1 Beijing York Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    I can’t speak to all the various Occupy Movements but so far, the one in Winnipeg has been impressive – steadfast but a community nonetheless.

    I also heard an interview with a woman who was at Occupy Regina and treated badly by the police when they were disbanding. The woman was recently made homeless when everyone in their building was evicted for bed bugs. She admits that she is on disability because she has trouble getting work on account of having a low IQ. She told the reporter that she was welcomed by the Occupy Camp and they provided her with a tent and provisions. She felt part of a community.

    Embracing the invisible other, the marginalized, and making them part of your community, seems like another positive result of this movement. The disenfranchised are definitely part of the 99% and it’s great to see them involved in this movement to shine a light on the stark inequities that exist.

  2. 2 JJ Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Embracing the invisible other, the marginalized, and making them part of your community, seems like another positive result of this movement.

    I have a different view.
    At the start of Occupy Vancouver, someone came up with the bright idea of spreading the word about free food/free place to stay around the downtown east side, to swell the protest’s numbers. Suddenly, Occupy Vancouver became all about homelessness, which is definitely a peripheral economic issue, but not the core of what Occupy was supposed to be about. The beleaguered middle class that never hears anything but “Shut up, go to work, watch TV, pay your taxes” thought that in Occupy there was a protest movement articulating their rage, so they supported it in significant numbers — until they found themselves shunted aside yet again.

    Besides, there are a lot better ways to help the homeless, mentally ill and addicted than a bunch of untrained idealists giving them a tent and a pancake breakfast and carte blanche to carry on within the Occupy encampment as they did out on the street. That’s a disaster waiting to happen, and predictably, it did.

    I am usually of the opinion that society fails the marginalized by keeping them in the shadows. However, Occupy Vancouver wasn’t prepared to deal with problems of the magnitude of those that afflict the homeless and addicted, and for some reason didn’t anticipate that a large swath of their support would be alienated. Bad planning to say the least.

  3. 3 Dana Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Oh JJ, you just failed the test, I’m so sorry.

    If you can’t profess ways to be absolutely everything to absolutely everybody you’re not allowed to be play.

    I thought you knew that.

    Someone should be along soon with the hemlock. 🙂

  4. 4 Peter Thursday, November 24, 2011 at 2:56 am

    Right now they’re having a “general assembly” meeting to talk about the last 40 days and think about their next move. With the attitude these protesters have, there’s no doubt that a next move is imminent.

    Yes, the cold winds may be starting to blow, but it appears there is no end to the creative thinking that will promote solidarity with the rest of the 99%. Little Timmy has to understand how his Nintendo is just a banker’s tool that enslaves him.

  5. 5 emily h. Thursday, November 24, 2011 at 6:06 am

    I completely agree with the article, moving back to community is what people all around the world need right now. We have gone too far pursuing individualism, ultimately ending up ín terrible rich vs. poor gap that can only be overcome by a strong and commited movement. I most certainly hope the Occupy ideals will not die with the camp evictions.

  6. 6 JJ Thursday, November 24, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Hi Peter
    I was hoping you’d weigh in with your thoughts about this occupy thing. 😀

    As for occupying Christmas, Adbusters promotes this kind of thing every year – “Buy Nothing Day”, “Buy Nothing Christmas” (they are the real Warriors on Christmas :p ). So they’re being a little disingenuous to frame it as something new.

    That said, although I’ve never been a big fan of the Festive Season myself, I think “Occupy Christmas” is a horrible idea, guaranteed to alienate what little middle class support these protests may still have.

    Most people look forward to Xmas & enjoy it. In these chaotic, depressing times, people need something to feel good about, even if it’s something as shallow as a week of vacation, gift-giving and eggnog-drinking. Plus what kind of a rotten, self-righteous grinch could tell their kids “Guess what, no Christmas this year — we’re occupying it instead”!? Yuck!!

    When I said a “next move is imminent” it was more of a reference to the protest’s ability to survive the winter and re-make itself in some other form than camping. I really hope they’re not going to be so dumb as to piss on the middle class’ favourite holiday 😯

  7. 7 Peter Thursday, November 24, 2011 at 9:52 am


    I think OWS is a good example of why protest demonstrations and marches have and should have such short shelf lives. Despite all the criticsm about vague goals, it started with a fairly specific focus–financial power and malfeasance– that resonated quite widely, even into the conservative camp. But it didn’t take long before it descended into political theatre (you lefties do so love your political theatre–whoever drummed their way to power?) and a kind of gooey romantic nihilism that resonated with no one. Then of course, the dysfunctional and dangerous moved in, which drove them further away from the mainstream. What symbiotic connection was there at the end between the OWS crowd and someone worrying about losing his/her job or paying the mortgage?

    This belief that if they extended the protest and occupation long enough, they would gain respect and impress everyone with their seriousness and commitment was self-defeating. Plus never mind all that soaring rhetoric about the 99%, it quickly became apparent even the leftist establishment was keeping their distance and offering only pabulum endorsements. Where was the Soros and Hollywood and union money? Where was the NDP?

    Take a page from the Tea Party book. Time to haul out the business suits, hire fundraisers and get over the allergy to leadership. Anger is not a strategy and politics is not a rock concert.


  8. 8 JJ Thursday, November 24, 2011 at 9:55 am

    We have gone too far pursuing individualism

    I tend to disagree. It just seems that way because the socialist aspects of our society (universal healthcare, safety nets etc) have been the standard for so long that turning a little more emphasis toward valuing the individual seems like a radical proposal 😆

    I could be wrong, but I don’t believe it’s a zero sum game. I don’t believe that as the indivual’s innovation and entrepreneurship is increasingly valued, our health care system goes down the tubes.

    The problem is that the game is rigged.

  9. 9 JJ Thursday, November 24, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Oh JJ, you just failed the test

    Just one more in a long line of tests I’ve failed, I’m afraid. They’re really starting to pile up. 😐

    I’ve never expected “Occupy” to be all things to all people, but I have to admit I was excited at first to see a protest movement that actually expressed the issues of the middle class.

    That’s populism. It’s what the tea party had, and they now have their own congresspeople and senators in government, where they’re actually making changes (for the worse, but never mind).

    I was hoping this Occupy thing could turn into something like that.

  10. 10 JJ Thursday, November 24, 2011 at 11:56 am

    it started with a fairly specific focus–financial power and malfeasance– that resonated quite widely, even into the conservative camp

    Exactly!! For awhile there were Ron Paul people and all kinds of different people in the OWS protest, before it collapsed into the old standard left/right dichotomy.

    This is especially true in Canada, where we didn’t have the issues they had in the states. So occupy canada didn’t have any focus other than solidarity with OWS, which is why they dissolved so quickly into protesting other typical lefty issues.

    (Some occupy supporters contend that our banks got a “bailout”, but technically they didn’t — my understanding is that they got a “liquidity injection” to steady them against the ripple effect from the US. That might sound like doubletalk but our banks weren’t “bailed out” specifically because of their own dumbness & greed.)

    As for
    political theatre 😆
    The difference is, tea partiers know how to stay on message.

    What symbiotic connection was there at the end between the OWS crowd and someone worrying about losing his/her job or paying the mortgage?

    I really wanted to support OccVan but it went a little farther left than I can identify with on Day One. The last straw was reading somewhere that their definition of ‘the 1%’ included anyone who owns property and more than one vehicle. At that point my Inner Conservative awoke from its slumber and screamed “Get it like I did!” 😯 Uncomfortable!! 😦

  11. 11 jmp Friday, November 25, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    I think my perspective of the occupy movement in general, and occupy Toronto in particular, is a little different––and perhaps jj’s comments actually prove, in my mind, what is wrong with the entire discourse of the 99%. I’m not about a movement of the “whole” people but of the oppressed peoples, which includes the homeless that do not fit into a “save the middle class” discourse (which is rightist, or at least liberal, but not very leftist), and maybe I recall how Khruschev’s state capitalist regime used this discourse in a way to further distance the Soviet Union from socialism and shudder.

    Not to say that I didn’t think it was worth getting involved in the occupy movement in Toronto, but just that I feel that this discourse is the reason why it is currently paralyzed. I am not keen on the eviction, less keen on the fact that people left “peacefully” in a manner that allowed our rightwing reactionary mayor and the head of the pigs to congratulate them on their behaviour. When rightists say you’re doing a good job, you should maybe do some self-reflection.

    Furthermore, the argument the [non]organizers (because there were organizers, no matter how much we liked to pretend there weren’t) made in court, rather than a legal argument (which you’d think they would make since they decided to go to court in the first place), was “we’re building a new community.” Not a very wise tactical move. Also quite delusional: camping out in a park, heavily subsidized by the union movement [which I’m a member of], who were paying for outhouses and food, is not establishing the grounds of a new community.

  12. 12 JJ Saturday, November 26, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Hi jmp

    I realize people have various issues that are important to them, but what made the occupy movement different from the start was that it transcended politics and the usual issues that are protested. At first Occupy had a focus that a wide swath of the population could agree with: bankster greed wrecking the economy.

    Later on (in Canada, at least) the homeless & addicted moved in and kind of took over, middle class support vanished and everyone forgot about bankster greed tanking the economy and started focusing on more marginal issues. Once the media started playing up the more dysfunctional and weird occupiers, it was Game Over for Occupy Canada.

    The political left often wonders why so much of the middle class votes for governments that don’t represent their interests, or are even toxic to them. In Occupy there seemed to be an awakening of something that’s boiled beneath the surface of that swath of the population for a long time. This is populism, and it’s the difference between a protest and a movement. It failed this time, but at least changed the dialogue channel, which might be the start of success down the road.

    …“save the middle class” discourse (which is rightist, or at least liberal, but not very leftist)

    I’m always surprised when lefties denounce “saving the middle class” as a right-wing thing, since the middle class wouldn’t exist without organized labour. But maybe that’s just me.

    Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful comment.

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