Occupy Montreal cleared from Victoria Square
Published Friday, November 25, 2011 1:35PM EST
MONTREAL - Acting on an order from the City of Montreal, police moved in on Victoria Square Friday morning to dismantle Occupy Montreal tents.
About 300 Montreal police officers began dismantling the Occupy camp in the city's financial sector on Friday morning while surrounding streets were blocked off.
Police vans and cars parked along the length of part of the site and platoons of police stood in clusters as people heading to work looked on.
About a dozen people in Montreal barricaded themselves inside a kitchen tent, using rope to hold themselves together, while others packed up their belongings.
No arrests were reported in the operation, which came within hours of a similar one in Edmonton and within days of camp closures in some of Canada's biggest cities.
Montreal police said 14 people were escorted from the site and put on city buses. They were then taken to a metro station where they were given a subway ticket and let go.
Police said no trouble was reported but they warned arrests would be made if people resisted violently.
One Montreal protester said the best thing for the movement was to allow the camp dismantling to proceed peacefully.
"So far, it's gone very well,'' an artist who identifies himself as Jazz said of the police operation.
"I'd say that, for this to end nicely, it should end in peace _ without scuffles, without violence. If that happens, I'd say we've won Game One.''
Some feel that the raid betrayed Mayor Tremblay's earlier expressions of tolerance.
"Their mindset changed 180 degrees in the space of a week," said one. "What happened? They were okay with it and all of a sudden they're not okay with it. Somebody's obviously telling the government t crack down and stop this."
Another felt that the order to leave the park was an infringement on his civil liberties.
"The government and police can do whatever they want. Like we can't even stand on the sidewalk without them telling us to move back and we have to keep a distance. That's doesn't make any sense," he said.
A third interviewed by CTV Montreal said that the extended tent-in was misperceived by many as extended lounging.
"Laziness? I don't think so. For someone to be lazy you wouldn't leave the comfort of your house to come in a tent," he said. "Why would you do that? It's harder to live here in a tent in the cold."
A flyer dated Nov. 23 warned that if the installations aren't taken down, the city will do it. The notice cited city bylaws that prohibit use of the square between midnight and 6 a.m.
Police began handing out a second round of more strongly-worded eviction notices on Thursday, instructing protesters to leave immediately.
Meanwhile, Occupy Edmonton protesters woke up to a similar situation early Friday morning when police moved in and evicted the 10 remaining demonstrators at the downtown park.
According to a statement from Occupy Edmonton, about 40 police officers "swarmed" the encampment at about 4 a.m. local time and began evicting the camp and dismantling makeshift shelters and tents.
CTV Edmonton reports that three people were arrested for trespassing after refusing to leave the park, but the arrests were carried out peacefully.
Amie Bursey, a spokesperson for Occupy Edmonton, said demonstrators have built a community over their 42-day occupation and "pushed for changes that will work for and not against the 99 per cent of us."
"I hope one day we have a system that listens and supports those peacefully pushing for change rather than criminalizing and silencing them. Today Edmonton lost something very special," Bursey said in a statement.
The early-morning eviction formula has already been used in Toronto, Calgary, Quebec City and Victoria as local authorities have lost patience with the movement.The Occupy Montreal movement planned another demonstration at Victoria Square at 12:00 p.m. Saturday.
with files from CTVNews.ca and The Canadian Press