By Christopher Walsh, editor
The global crackdown on the Occupy Movement moved into this city this morning with Occupy Calgary members ticketed and told to remove their tents from Olympic Plaza within 24 hours.
Calgary police and bylaw services were acting on an “action plan” pushed through council last week that called for the tents to be removed from the downtown park. The group has now been told to clear out their tents by tomorrow morning.
Warning was issued Monday that tickets would be handed out at 9 a.m. this morning, but when no authorities appeared, most media crews dispersed from the scene. A little after 11 a.m., police and bylaw services appeared and proceeded to issue eviction tickets to the occupiers for camping in a public space.
“Cities around the country and around North America are working together to come up with a united plan to remove everyone,” said Aaron, a camper at the plaza, referring to the removal earlier today of the Occupy Wall Street participants. Occupy Halifax activists were removed from that city Saturday by physical force.
“They’re scared of the example this shows to the general public,” Aaron said.
The tickets issued to dozens of campers in Calgary give them 24 hours to remove tents or face the city removing and impounding their property. Aaron says that is against the group’s right to assemble on public property.
“It’s a breach of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Aaron said, refusing to give his name to bylaw officers. “Even if they can claim that their bylaws trump the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, there’s no way you can enforce a notice because they haven’t given a notice to the owners of these tents. If they want to come tomorrow and arrest me, they haven’t followed proper procedure.”
Director of bylaw services Bill Bruce said it was necessary to start issuing tickets for camping in a public space because the protest had become stagnant and no deal to get the occupants to vacate the premises could be reached.
“It’s time for us to sort of move to that next phase to enforce the law,” he said. “If there’s a Charter challenge, it really needs to be before a judge.”
Bruce added there would likely be no showdown with police tomorrow and that unoccupied tents would be removed then.
“At this time, probably unoccupied [tents]. We’re still open to talking to them about where this is gonna go,” he said. “You can’t arrest someone for breaking a bylaw, you can only write them tickets.
“Calgary doesn’t have a reputation for being quick to go to force … we’re reasonable people here.”
Mayor Naheed Nenshi stated earlier in the day in a television interview that it is “time for the occupy to end”.
The Occupy Calgary group has stated they will continue their protest despite the numerous bylaw tickets issued for the tents and other bylaw infractions over the last week and a half. No firm plan has been revealed.
“We’ll see as it comes, tomorrow is another day,” Aaron said.
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