Business as usual at Occupy N.L. encampment

Colin MacLean
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Local movement seems to have avoided mass evictions faced elsewhere

The occupiers of Harbourside Park in St. John's spend their days trying to insulate their tents against the coming cold, but when a free moment arises they have a well-stocked, if small, library on various social issues. David Harrington (left) and Cyrus Clarke were two of the occupiers in the park Wednesday.- Photo by Colin MacLean/The Telegram

The Occupy Wall Street movement is under attack almost everywhere one of its tent cities has sprung up - but Newfoundland's occupiers are still standing.

On Tuesday, police in New York City cleared Zuccotti Park of the tent community that had sprung up as protesters occupied the public space.

Police forces in many other cities, including Halifax, have been called upon to do the same.

The sudden crackdown on the camps, which in some cases were set up two months ago, has left occupiers in St. John's Harbourside Park nervous and outraged.

Cyrus Clarke, 20, of St. John's has been occupying the park off and on since the local movement started a month ago.

He was one of a handful of occupiers in the park Wednesday morning.

Everyone involved in the movement has been talking a lot about what's been going on in other cities, he said.

"We were talking yesterday about how since we're one of the last Occupy movements standing in Canada at the moment, because of all the evictions ... this is a very important moment for us to show our support at this occupy movement (in the park) and to keep in going strong," Clarke said.

And the local movement has been busy, Clarke said, setting up shelters and trying to insulate them as best they can against the cold nights and inevitable winter.

The number of people at the occupy tents is fluid - people come and go because they have work or classes. The goal is to have someone continually occupying the space and there are usually five or more people sleeping in the tents every night.

More people usually show up to the general assembly meetings being held every few days. A listing of events, as well as more info on the local Occupy protest; can be found online at www.occupynl.ca.

Pretty much everyone who shows up to those meetings does so because they want to affect societal change, said Clarke, it's been really great to be a part of, worth even the freezing cold nights.

He also mentioned that there has been some problems with troublemakers but that there have been no serious problems.

"I don't want to sound cheesy or anything but it's been like a spiritual awakening, almost. I've realized so much about myself. The people down here are all so different, they all have different ideas, they listen to different music and come from different backgrounds but they've all come together for the same reason, we all believe that there's some type of injustice going on in society," he said.

That's a sentiment 19-year-old Kenn Ethcanning shares.

Ethcanning showed up to Harbourside Park on Day 3 of the protest and he's barely left since.

The Telegram found him scraping paint off the Terry Fox memorial on the waterfront.

When asked why he was taking off the paint he said, "respect."

"It's out of respect for what Terry Fox did. I'm also the one who spilt it on it, so it's my responsibility to take it off," he laughed.

He is also well aware of what's happening in New York and other places, he said.

It's infuriating, he said.

"It's sick and twisted. We have a right to peaceful assembly. We're just taking tactics from the Arab Spring in occupying a public space. That's all it is," he said.

The occupiers have been very respectful of the public park, he added, trash is picked up, activities are kept low-key and the public is still encouraged to use the area.

When asked if he thought a similar eviction might take place in St. John's despite the best intentions of the protesters, he was doubtful.

"Not really. I mean if it does we'll get more support. If they do kick us out of here we'll just come back with more support than ever," he said.

The Telegram attempted to reach the City of St. John's for comment but no response was received in time for deadline.

Organized mostly online through social media websites the Occupy Wall Street protests espouse any number of grievances with the status quo, but all share the theme of displeasure with the financial system and the disparity in the distribution of the world's wealth.

cmaclean@thetelegram.com @telegrammaclean

Organizations: Occupy Wall Street

Geographic location: St. John's, New York City, Harbourside Park Newfoundland Zuccotti Park Halifax Canada

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Recent comments

  • yo mama
    November 18, 2011 - 23:22

    19 AND 20 YEARS OLD...HAHAHAHA!!!!. Don't know their asses from holes in the ground, shouldn't you all be popping drugs at Club V or something?

  • Kyle T.
    November 18, 2011 - 12:33

    I'm intrigued by the rallying call of "get a job." Could you possibly have any less to say about the issue? It becomes more interesting when it's said to people who do have jobs. And because you can't judge someone's employment status by their desire to picket or protest, "get a job" couldn't possibly be more meaningless. The Occupy Wall Street movement is about addressing what is known as 'structural violence' -- the violence of inequality that is enforced through social arrangements that are rooted in exploitation. It's something that hums away in the background that, when successful, goes unnoticed or becomes a part of 'how it is'. If you want a concrete example, just look at how Newfoundland and Labrador has been treated by the federal government, or how ownership of Newfoundland was passed around like a gambit to pay off war-related debts. The thing is, addressing this is not like addressing some line-item budget at City Hall. It goes deeper. It looks chaotic because the changes that are being demanded are at the core of the 'system' -- the rules and regulations under which we've found ourselves living. If you are in favor of exploitation and violence, then, by all means, express your view as such. Say it loud that you think certain people are deserving of exploitation. Call them out by sex and 'race.' I know you can. Or you can admit that you've been dulled to/by the violence and that you truly don't see the problem. Say what you feel you must, but "Get a job, you bum" is a different discussion. And for the people of the Occupy movement, it makes such little sense in relation to how often it's used.

  • Craig
    November 18, 2011 - 03:18

    Angry youth who have no idea why they are angry. We do not have the "right" to do whatever we want whenever we want. We have laws in place for a reason. Go set up in a gravel pit on the TCH.

  • Jeremy
    November 18, 2011 - 02:50

    I'm getting a little tired of these lazy people who can't even bother to learn about the issues and resort to name calling and mindless generalizations. Yeah, I’m talking about the self-satisfied posters here who somehow think they are more deserving because they are too cowardly and intellectually lazy to do anything to advance the human condition. I applaud those who have the courage to take a stand against a system that benefits the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us. We only have the rights we do have because of people like these who have put taken the time to put themselves out there.

  • J. Bennett
    November 17, 2011 - 18:16

    Well isn't it just like city hall? Turn down major business because the proposed buildings may be 15 stories high in a historic or heritage area, then in the next breath allow a bunch of misguided people who are occupying city land, turning it into an eyesore and all under the veil of a protest. The silent majority want these people out of our park. Its a monument to a real canadian terry fox and its rediculous. "If they kick us out we will come back with more support than ever? What does that tell you. They protest dictators and in essence become like those they protest against. Clean up the park and cleean up city hall as well. Doc and the Dinosaurs have to go.

  • Marcus
    November 17, 2011 - 17:36

    no one has any rights anyway....the country was bought and sold a long time ago, politicians shuffle money over here...over there....it makes no difference....the real owners of this country own us anyway...we work, they get richer, we remain middle class...they get more rich. The government pleases them, everything follows the money. The only real choices we have is paper or plastic. Nothing can change this. The people with guns ie the police, protect them the rich directly or indirectly.. Its just a big chain. I cant see this ever changing, its been interesting to see the protests, but they cant change anything.

  • Brad
    November 17, 2011 - 15:01

    The occupiers who say they represent 99Percent are really the lazy 1 percent idealists who want what the 1percent they protest against have. Get a life and a job and set some goals. It is rewarding when you actually do something that enriches the quality of life of people around you. YOU DO NOT REPRESENT ME YOU JUST HAVE LOTS OF TIME AND BIG MOUTHS.

    • David
      November 17, 2011 - 19:31

      Amen, Brad. Let's you and I just arbitrarily declare that we represent "the 72%" (just pulled thatt out of my butt), and then everyone must listen to us...that's the way it works, right? I say everyone owes us $1 million each, because that's what I deem "fair".... if you agree, I'll meet you downtown where we'll spray paint some stuff, block Gower St. for awhile, and interfere with other, innocent people's lives, and hopefully brawl with the cops so we get on the news...Yay!

    • Blair
      November 17, 2011 - 20:52

      For the record, the space being occupied by this group is not owned by the City of St. John's. It is owned soley by the St. John's Port Authority, an agency of the Federal Government. This is the first group to occupy space on SJPA property for FREE. They have the right to eject these people whenever they desire.

  • Jon
    November 17, 2011 - 14:31

    The people that protest in the "occupy" movement are protesting greed in capitalism. If they must protest capitalism I believe they should move to a place like Cuba or China and enjoy the smog filled air, lack of clean water, minimum pay for 12hr work in a sweatshop. These people do not understand that the system in Canada is the best possible system that we have achieved. If you must protest, at least come up with a plan that can help change the situation. But wait, what do we need to fix? Our employment insurance? Our cheap education? Our free health care? I look around and I see a pot hole and that's all I can complain about.

  • Edmund
    November 17, 2011 - 13:41

    What an absolute joke that these jokers (do they pay taxes?) were even allowed by the city to have set up their little squatters camp. I do not have any problem with one's right to protest if they feel unjustly treated in a proper way of publically writing, marching (peacefully) and debate with the political groups. BUT, to set up the dispicable mess that now occupies the beautiful downtown core of our city is wrong. If they think that they are going to change the so called "capitalism" they are protesting they should think twice because without capitalism they would not be able to have the tents etc. etc. etc. that they are using to keep themselves dry and warm or the food they eat. You can't have your cake and eat it too so why do they not just stand out there in person 24 / 7 to prove your point and see how long they hang around. Most of them are simply looking for something to complain about anyway so why bother giving them any more press. Wonder how they will cook the Christmas dinner if they do not use a product developed and built by capitalism. ALSO, if Dennis (Useless a T--S on a Bull) O'Keefe and his useless council (except for Tilley and Collins) had any guts and respect for the citizens and the city they would have had this eyesore removed long ago. Where are all the rules and regulations now for our wonderful HERITAGE AREAS now Shannie??? Get your heads out of the sand and move on the removal and clean up of this site immediately or go down and protest with them. Your refusal to do the job you were elected to do and deal with the matter in the best interest of the city and it's citizens expresses your support. You guys can't have it both ways either so make your decision known to evict these hooligans or resign from council. Hello!!!

  • David
    November 17, 2011 - 13:25

    Absolutely Freudian headline...well done, even if it was accidental.

  • tony
    November 17, 2011 - 13:12

    In north AMERICA you have all the right"s until you needs them, just to find out that you have none when you needs them, so which country is going to be invaded next to implant our great DEMOCRACY

  • BONITA
    November 17, 2011 - 12:48

    they have the right to protest. so, whats the problem, take away our rights and well, isn't that what we sent troops over seas for, rights,,,,,, in this country, today, its almost as bad as some of the foreign countries,,,,, we have no rights any more, THANKS HARPER, YOU ARE DOING A BANG UP JOB,,,,,,,,, REALLY,,,, NO NOT REALLY,,,,,,, WE HAVE NO RIGHTS , NO SAY, NO VOICE,

  • stan chaz
    November 17, 2011 - 11:51

    You do not need to be religious to understand -and embrace- the idea that "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." But in their blind greed and schemes, the 1% has forgotten and closed their eyes to what the word "society" should really mean. Because of Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots, we are finally talking less about CUTS and more about BLEEDING. Instead of demanding more budget cuts -to be borne by the middle class and poor- we are FINALLY focusing on the shameful bleeding that the poor and middle class has endured for all too long. Instead of talking about even more millionaire tax we're now talking about fairness and justice - about an economy and a political system that is run for the rich, and by the rich. Instead of talking about LESS government, we are talking about a government that WORKS FOR ALL OF US, not just a favored few. Thank you OWS, for reminding us that people -ordinary working people- really DO matter, and for helping open our eyes to what’s really going on in this country. Thank you OWS, for standing up for the workers, and for those looking for work, and for those that will graduate or come back from war ...and find no work. Thank you OWS, for standing your ground, for enduring illegal beatings and arrests - non-violently. Thank you OWS, from all of us who can’t be there in person, from all of us who are working two and three jobs just to keep up, from all of us struggling to raise our children, or caring for our elderly, or just trying to live with some dignity.....while the rich become richer and more powerful, at our expense. The 1% are running this economy. Indeed, they’re running it right into the ground - with their get rich schemes, their shipping of jobs overseas, their tax evasions, and their cuts in social programs. You inspire and motivate us OWS. You strengthen us, and give us hope. And we’re PROUD OF YOU! This land IS our land! AND WE WANT IT BACK! We want our FUTURE back! But it’s much more than mere words.... it’s much more than just politics..... it’s your LIFE, and how you want to live it, and how you WILL live it. The time has come to choose....to risk...and to act. If not now...then when? If not you, then....who? You DO have the power my friend. Don’t let your dreams die

  • gary
    November 17, 2011 - 09:04

    OK, You people have made your point... But it is now time to pack up and clean up the mess you have made there. Drove by over the weekend and the place looks like a bunch of bums in downtown Calgary. Ok, you had a good protest, but you all have over stayed your welcome. Time to pack up and move out, it is a eye sore now when you drive by...

    • Jay Person
      November 17, 2011 - 14:08

      Gary, This "you people" attitude is part of the problem. Besides, if things keep going like they have been, you're going to be one of "you people" pretty soon. Have a look at some stark independent evidence on inequality in NFLD from Travis Fast of Laval University: http://rppe.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/occupy-movement-inequality-in-newfoundland-and-labrador/ Better yet, why not drop down for one of the general assemblies and voice your concerns. Everyone will listen respectfully to you and take seriously what you say, even though you have the gall to use descriptors like "bunch of bums".

  • Ed Fry
    November 17, 2011 - 08:30

    These people are fools. Plain and simple. As one of them was quoted in the article: "we all believe that there's some type of injustice going on in society." They do not know what they are protesting about and they don't realize that the system we have, though not perfect, is the best there is and has allowed them to protest as well as to live fairly comfortable, safe lives and obtain an education. Some vague sense of "injustice" is a ridiculous reason upon which to base an illegal occupation of public property.

  • Stann
    November 17, 2011 - 08:17

    Time for those bums to pack up and leave. Go get a job. Hundreds around this city. St. John's it is time you cleared the park for the people who pay the taxes here. Imagine giving those people free hydro, etc. Come snow and ice the city will complain they can't sand streets; running out of funds. Get those lazy freeloaders out of there. If they want to tent go to the back woods with the animals.

  • stan chaz
    November 17, 2011 - 08:02

    You do not need to be religious to understand -and embrace- the idea that "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." But in their blind greed and schemes, the 1% has forgotten and closed their eyes to what the word "society" should really mean. Because of Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots, we are finally talking less about CUTS and more about BLEEDING. Instead of demanding more budget cuts -to be borne by the middle class and poor- we are FINALLY focusing on the shameful bleeding that the poor and middle class has endured for all too long. Instead of talking about even more cuts in the taxes of millionaires...we are now talking about fairness and justice - about an economy and a political system that is run for the rich, and by the rich. Instead of talking about LESS government, we are talking about a government that WORKS FOR ALL OF US, not just a favored few. Thank you OWS, for reminding us that people -ordinary working people- really DO matter, and for helping open our eyes to what’s really going on in this country. Thank you OWS, for standing up for the workers, and for those looking for work, and for those that will graduate or come back from war ...and find no work. Thank you OWS, for standing your ground, for enduring illegal beatings and arrests - non-violently. Thank you OWS, from all of us who can’t be there in person, from all of us who are working two and three jobs just to keep up, from all of us struggling to raise our children, or caring for our elderly, or just trying to live with some dignity.....while the rich become richer and more powerful, at our expense. The 1% are running this economy. Indeed, they’re running it right into the ground - with their get rich schemes, their shipping of jobs overseas, their tax evasions, and their cuts in social programs. You inspire and motivate us OWS. You strengthen us, and give us hope. And we’re damn PROUD OF YOU! This land IS our land! AND WE WANT IT BACK! We want our FUTURE back! But it’s much more than mere words.... it’s much more than just politics..... it’s your freakin’ LIFE, and how you want to live it, and how you WILL live it. The time has come to choose....to risk...and to act. If not now...then when? If not you, then....who? You DO have the power my friend. Don’t let your dreams die.

  • Jeremiah
    November 17, 2011 - 07:20

    So anyone can pitch a tent anywhere in the city and not be bothered by authorities? Time to move on kids, the fun is over and it is past bed time.