Mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton says it is time for the ongoing Occupy Vancouver protest to move on and has called for the swift removal of the makeshift tent city that sprung up in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery Oct. 15.
One day after protesters crashed her public debate with incumbent Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson at the SFU campus at the Woodwards building, the NPA city councillor filed a motion that would give protesters exactly one week to pack up and leave before police and firefighters remove them.
I am very confident that given a week to make this happen, staff can make it happen, Anton told the Courier on Wednesday. We have a professional team of staff who will make sure that they comply. They've done it before and they can do it again. I put a motion in today so it should come before council next Tuesday [Nov. 1] but it should have come last week.
Robertson said he wants to avoid the chaos in other cities that have cracked down on Occupy protests, which are part of an international solidarity movement with the original Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City against corporate corruption and growing global wealth disparity.
"I know, looking at other cities that have descended into chaos with tear gas and arrests and violence, that that is not the way forward," said Robertson a few hours after 85 protesters in Oakland and 53 in Atlanta were arrested in pre-dawn raids, leaving one person critically injured. "Precipitating that with threats and ultimatums is totally irresponsible, so we're not going there."
Alison Richards, a volunteer inside Occupy Vancouver's media tent, said she was encouraged by a recent conversation with VPD Inspector Ruben Sorge and Fire Chief John McKearney that Vancouver will avoid similar occupational hazards.
From what they told me, there's been no directive passed down, no deadline and they made that very clear to us, said Richards. They said they are very happy we've been a peaceful group.
The hope that things will be different in Vancouver was echoed by several protesters.
The police presence has been so positive and the conversations I've had with law enforcement have been so understanding, I really don't see a huge number of police coming out to get rid of us unless there is a direct threat to their jobs, said Jude, a 21-year-old Salt Spring Island resident who declined to give his last name.
Fellow protester Chris Waddell added that he would be prepared to be arrested if push comes to shove. I will sit down and peacefully allow myself to be hauled off to jail if necessary, he said. And then I will come right back again the very next day.