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Obstruction of What Justice?

Occupy Nova Scotia Evicted from Victoria Park on Remembrance Day

by Miles Howe

Obstruction of What Justice?

Having just spent the last ten hours shivering in a jail cell, I don't have much of an idea of what else has happened to the Occupy Nova Scotia movement. I can tell you that the treatment we received from the Halifax Police Department, brought about by Mayor Kelly's Remembrance Day Eviction Notice, has been absolutely deplorable.

In total, 13 or 14 people have spent over 10 hours in jail cells, sitting in soaking wet and muddied clothing, while police officers came and went, ignoring our pleas for blankets or to at least turn on the heat. This was perceived to be a joke to some, as one female officer laughingly chided "This isn't a hotel."

Ha ha.

The reason for our arrest; a non-violent sit-down on a tent that the police were in the process of dismantling and throwing in a garbage bag. I perceived the tent upon which I was sitting to be someone's only home, and only shelter for the evening. I perceived the belongings in the tent to be someone's only change of clothes, only backpack, only shelter from the downpour of the day. I sat upon the tent, as did others, and in return was dragged through mud, had my clothing ripped from me, was handcuffed, tossed onto the street, had my backpack carved up by a knife-wielding police officer, and was then launched headfirst into a paddy-wagon. This is my charge; obstruction of justice.

Minutes later, into the paddy-wagon came a young lady of 18. She had been stomped on by officers, was crying, muddy, drenched, and in noticeable pain. She asked for medical attention, the results of police boots laid into her chest. Officers heard her request, and slammed the door of the paddy-wagon shut in her face. Fortunately, one of those in the wagon managed to fish out a cellphone and dial 911 himself, asking the ERS to meet us at the police station. Even there, minutes later, the police would not uncuff the young lady in question while the preliminary examination took place. Her crime? Obstruction of justice.

Another gentleman was chocked out by police, and having passed out in his paddy-wagon, went into seizure. His shoulder may be separated. He was made to sit in a cell, for 10 hours, like the rest of us. His crime? Obstruction of justice.

In the coming days all these claims will be verified by testimony, either by video, film, or first-hand experience.

We were fed one 210 calorie protein bar, and given one 500ml bottle of water, over the span of 10 hours. We are now not allowed in any park in the city, including, but not limited to, Victoria Park, the Commons, Point Pleasant Park, and Grand Parade Square, until our court date of December 29th. Our crimes? You guessed it, Obstruction of justice.

I will not launch into any diatribe against the idiocy of this whole procedure. Istead, please divert your attention to the new surveillance cameras installed in Grand Parade Square and Victoria Park. Please ask Mayor Kelly what in fact they are meant for, if they are a permanent fixture, and how much they cost. And please, demand a better answer from that shameful man, who would tarnish Remembrance Day with this attrocious eviction notice and carte-blanche policy to his police force, than allowing him to blame it on Occupy Nova Scotia.

Shame.

Please enjoy the following conversation with me.

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Comments

Corporate Policy Enforcer

this just shows that the cops are nothing more then corporate policy enforcers, enforcing the policy of the corporation that is the HRM. clearly not being a peace officer, who protect the rigths of the individual and stop conflict not create it. Seriously you have to expect this treatment if you occupy corporate space, you are forced to play by there facist rules. the way they did  itwas almost cartoonish and laughable, in the rain on rememberence day, stay classy halifax, i wonder if mayor kelly woke up that morning and thought hey this is the perfect time to make myself look like a slime ball weasel, some people wll love it though seeing the comments, i love how people will get all worked up about people camping in tents, but they dont give a shit banks and government  are ripping them off every goddam day.

Corporate Policy Enforcer

this just shows that the cops are nothing more then corporate policy enforcers, enforcing the policy of the corporation that is the HRM. clearly not being a peace officer, who protect the rigths of the individual and stop conflict not create it. Seriously you have to expect this treatment if you occupy corporate space, you are forced to play by there facist rules. the way they did  it was almost cartoonish and laughable, in the rain on rememberence day, stay classy halifax, i wonder if mayor kelly woke up that morning and thought hey this is the perfect time to make myself look like a slime ball weazel, some people wll love it though seeing the comments, i love how people will get all worked up about people camping in tents, but they dont give a shit banks and government  are ripping them off every goddam day.

Corporate Policy Enforcer

this just shows that the cops are nothing more then corporate policy enforcers, enforcing the policy of the corporation that is the HRM. clearly not being a peace officer, who protect the rigths of the individual and stop conflict not create it. Seriously you have to expect this treatment if you occupy corporate space, you are forced to play by there facist rules. the way they did  it was almost cartoonish and laughable, in the rain on rememberence day, stay classy halifax, i wonder if mayor kelly woke up that morning and thought hey this is the perfect time to make myself look like a slime ball weazel, some people wll love it though seeing the comments, i love how people will get all worked up about people camping in tents, but they dont give a shit banks and government  are ripping them off every goddam day.

I'm glad they punched you in

I'm glad they punched you in the face because I was about to. Get a fucking job and be grateful you have the liberties you do while people are getting massacred around the world for trying to access basic rights such as driving a car and getting water. Idiots.

You could not leave for one

You could not leave for one day? Really?? Who are you to take that day away from those who deserve it? You are just as disrespectul and greedy as those that you protest against. They gave you an inch, you took a mile, and now you cry foul. There are countries where your ideas of freedom take place, but I have a feeling that you would not want to stay there very long. It is no longer a protest, because for that you need a united cause. walk through an occupy camp and you'll find mostly posers looking for any excuse to protest.

In this article you refuse to abide by the law and complain when the police do the same? Sounds a little hypocritical.

ByLaws and Boneheads

Bylaws: Crap city bylaws that bypass the right to free speech and the right to assemble peacefully are NOT above the moral right to stand up against the financial oppression of our nation, and of the US citizens - forced to pay the bailouts to recoup the losses the banks were responsible for, forced to pay, by means of 300 billion dollars, the millions of dollars in annual bonuses for corporations who would have otherwise gone bankrupt.  No one is bailing me out of my debt, no one is bailing my american friends out of their debt.  so why are the american people paying for these bail outs? this is ridiculous, if Rogers (AML communications) went bankrupt would you pay for it?  I know I wouldn't.  This is about transparency, and the government not being bought at the price of deregulation and wealth disparity.

Boneheads: I don't understand why people are content to spew ignorance and call it advice, or even a clever comeback - if you don't have a clue about the occupy movement, educate yourself, stop looking stupid by attributing it to lazy hippies who want a hand out.  It's tacky and makes you look like a child.  Protesters are no less human, no less worthy, and no less important than anyone else.  But if you WANT another Great Depression, go ahead, keep dumping your 'Go Pay Rent' rhetoric on those who oppose financial oppression, and feed into the current market of inequality.

Here is a little light reading, if $700 billion dollars constitutes light.

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article19523.html

Read that before you tell someone to go 'pay their rent, or grow a set' because you look like a shameless idiot.

 

Deserved what you got

You deserved what you got. You DID obstruct justice. You have the right to protest, the right to assemble in a public space. You DO NOT have the right to erect tents in public spaces in voilation of city by-laws and you DO NOT have the right to interfere with the police when they show up to enforce that by-law.

Stop making yourself out to be the victim here. You deliberately put yourself in that situation and got EXACTLY what you deserved.

YOU'RE A MORON.

Shame

To all of you who are posting objections to the Occupy NS crowd, and voicing your support for obvious police brutality: You are doing nothing but demonstrating your own wilfull ignorance as to the character and purpose of these "protests." If you're confused about why there are no "specific demands," or why the people insisted on remaining in this public space despite police orders, I suggest doing a little bit of research and critical thinking to clear your confusion. (Matt Taibbi's article of Nov 10 in Rolling Stone might be a good place to begin your work.) And making ad hominem criticisms of the individuals you happen to have encountered at the gathering only deflects from its main character and purpose, which is participating in a movement that extends far beyond Halifax. These movements are important and needful, and your mindless opposition to them only demonstrates how far we have gone in legitimizing the corporate state and its violent basis in the popular mind, at the expense of the public sphere and the public use of reason.

Disrespectful

Like many others I did not particularly care one way or the other about Occupy NS. HOWEVER, to see all of this go down on Remembrance Day seems completely self-fish on the part of the protestors. November 11th is a day to celebrate our troops who gave their lives so that others may live, and yet you decided to make this day about yourself and your lesser cause.

I agree 100%.  Perhaps

I agree 100%.  Perhaps actually thinking about what it means to work hard for a good cause.  On November 11th, 1918, young men and women fought for our country so that we as Canadian citizens have the right to voice our opinion.  They risked their lives for us in war and battle.  They didn't just sit around and demand that they get their way, they actually worked for it.  I have walked by the 'protesters' quite a bit within the last month and to be quite frank, all I saw was a group of students, sitting in tents, hula hooping, and raving.  If they really wanted to make a difference they would have cleaned themselves up to look like real professionals, got a committee together, held meetings, took minutes ect.  Then once they obtained written data and files, then they could have taken it before Peter Kelly or whom ever they needed to deal with, stated why they are protesting, and held significant evidence to back them up.  Perhaps then, someone would have taken it seriously.  A young girl while 'protesting' at the Occupy Vancouver, died due to an apparent drug overdose.  Please take this into consideration before you decide to 'protest' once again in Halifax.

Maybe you both failed to read

Maybe you both failed to read the post the entire way through or all the other coverage of that day, but protesters out of respect for the event actually moved Occupy Nova Scotia from the parade grounds in order to allow Remembrance Day activities to go ahead unimpeded. It was Mayor Kelly and the city that decided to take these draconian steps on Remembrance Day; one can only assume because they hoped that it being a holiday would mean that less people would be paying attention.

As far as the comment about how the young soldiers got up and did something in WWI, while the protesters are just sitting around in tents: how about all the people who are simply sitting at home, complaining about the economic crisis, gorwing income inequality, the ongoing environmental disaster... The war against European fascism may have been the order of the day in 1918; today we are fighting another kind of enemy, a corporatist fascism where governments are more in line with big business than with the people they claim to represent. It is the people who are at Occupy NS and other occupations across Canada who are standing up and doing something about it. There is a reason that veterans have some out to support Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Oakland and others.

The tactic of forming committees - from environmental organizations to student federations - has already been done; maybe you haven't noticed, but for years groups like the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Federation of Students, the Nova Scotia Environmental Network, have all formed committees, done exceptional research, presented it to mayors and premiers and prime ministers and senators and MPs, and where has it gotten us? These actions have clearly helped slow the tide and ensure some regulation and a social safety net, but speak with the most ardent members of such groups today and there is an exasperation and exhaustion from dealing with successive governments who nod kindly and shake your hand and then do what the lobbyists whisper in their ears.

If we're looking for people taking action, who are standing up for their neighbors, it is the people who are at Occupy NS and who have been organizing in the their communities for decades, while others tell them to get clean cut and find real jobs and that if they just conformed a little bit more, and were a bit more polite, and just went with the flow, everything would be better.

Shameful

 

To all of you who are posting objections to the Occupy NS crowd, and voicing your support for obvious police brutality: You are doing nothing but demonstrating your own wilfull ignorance as to the character and purpose of these "protests." If you're confused about why there are no "specific demands," or why the people insisted on remaining in this public space despite police orders, i.e. why they fought against relinquishing their freedom to assemble in a public space for the sake of an obscure and petty municipal ordinance, I suggest doing a little bit of research and critical thinking to clear your confusion. (Matt Taibbi's article of Nov 10 in Rolling Stone might be a good place to begin your work.) And making ad hominem criticisms of the individuals you happen to have encountered at the gathering only deflects from its main character and purpose, as it participates in a legitimate movement of democracy and civil disobedience that extends far beyond Halifax. These movements are important and needful, and your mindless opposition to them only demonstrates how far we have gone in legitimizing the corporate state and its violent basis in the popular mind, at the expense of the public sphere and the public use of reason.

 

Moral of the story: If you

Moral of the story: If you insist on maintaining your right to freedom of assembly in a public space when your municipality decides to pass a by-law against your activity, a by-law that probably violates s. 2(c) of the Charter, you will be herded off like wayward cattle. However, if you steal hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to give to your business friends to run concerts on public domain land, without going through the proper mechanisms of government, you will remain in your position of power and privilege. Good to know.

"Law" is not its own justification

I've participated in a number of Occupy NS general assemblies and my attitude toward them has always been both critical and affirmative. The much-vaunted 'inclusiveness' of such occupied spaces is both their strength and their weakness: at one and the same time as they create a context within which a diversity of perspectives and goals can engage in dialogue each other, they also create a context in which these same perspectives and goals tend to become homogenized. The fact is, meaningful social change does not stem from pre-fabricated ideological frameworks but from playful experimentation with different modes of social and economic cohesion. The demand - both internal and external - that social movements such as Occupy NS develop a 'unified vision,' 'clear mandate,' etc stems from a perspective that is more interested in cookie-cutter solutions than meaningful social transformation.

As far as the enforcement of By-Law P-600 is concerned, I will not mince words: laws that are devoid of ethical justification deserve to be broken. Period. Peter Kelly, city council, and the armed thugs who carried out these orders deserve zero respect and will get none from me. There is a huge difference between a sociopath who violates laws designed to protect people from physical harm (although I would argue that the reasons for not engaging in such behaviours have little if anything to do with their illegality) and people who violate laws because that they see them as unethical. The individual above who stated that "if you stand in the way of police blocing them you desrve to get arrested" is speaking out of a pious and self-justifying respect for authority. I challenge this respect at its core and defy anyone to back it up with arguments that do not stem from such piety.

-Matt, from Halifax

Someone please help me understand.

I have been trying to follow the "Occupy" movement for the past couple of months and I still haven't been able to figure out the point of it all.  Is the protest attempting to bring attention to the evils of making money, or the perils of not having money.  Is it the intention of the Occupy movement to convert the world into a state where everyone is treated the same?  Leaving no incentive for anyone to improve their lot in life? I am afraid that I will be forced to give up my pension to support homeless shelters filled with drug addicts and petty criminals if this movement takes hold.

If the "Occupy" movement could dispense with the "political sound bite retoric" and just make a plain language statement of what they want and how to do it, I might be more supportive.  But at the moment, I see lots of people who for some reason are unable to buy food or shelter, while having no problem buying weed and smoking it in public.

Please help me understand.

      Dear Homer

 

 

 

Dear Homer Olgethorpe,

If you need help understanding the Occupy Movement, there are many places you can go. There are many books you should read on ecoomics and culture in general, but for starters, some online articles will help you begin to understand this movement and why your fears about your pension being spent to enable drug abuse by those in material poverty are completely unfounded products of partisan political rhetoric.  

You may want to begin with Matt Taibbi's recent piece in Rolling Stone: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/how-i-stopped-worrying-and-learned-to-love-the-ows-protests-20111110

Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote this amazingly prescient article in May 2011 (well before the protests began), and it captures much of what is going on: http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105

Then I would move on to some articles by Chris Hedges. This one may be helpful: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/a_movement_too_big_to_fail_20111017/

I would also start watching the daily news broadcast online at Democracy Now (http://www.democracynow.org), one of the only credible independent sources of news with a significant budget. This recent PBS interview with their host, Amy Goodman, and Chris Hedges may help you, too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C75sOJVN-tA

For a something a little more philosophical, Cornel West's recent interview with philosopher Slavoj Zizek is quite informative: http://smileyandwest.ning.com/forum/topics/the-conversation-slavoj-zizek . Tuning into West and Smiley's radio show might help you grasp issues of poverty, at least from an American perspecitve.

From a more particularly historical perspective, you may find this Telegraph Journal article quite helpful, as it summarizes the effects of 20th century neoliberalism, which were easily foreseeable: http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/search/article/1450595

Finally, Frances Fox Piven has written a great piece on the effects of current ecomomic policies on the poor: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frances-fox-piven/the-war-against-the-poor_b_1079881.html

If anyone else would like to help Homer develop his perspective on economic and social issues to a greater level of maturity, please post more resources!

 

Linda McQuaig"s "The Trouble

Linda McQuaig"s "The Trouble with Billionaires" is another excellent read as background to why "Occupy"!

"If the 'Occupy' movement

"If the 'Occupy' movement could dispense with the 'political sound bite retoric' and just make a plain language statement of what they want and how to do it, I might be more supportive."

You're contradicting yourself. In one breath, you say you don't want soundbite responses and, in the next, you ask for precisely that. Which is it gonna be?

What is this dude some kind

What is this dude some kind of doctor? Dont think so. These people are so stupid they think they should be treated like royalty while they are getting arrested. Get a job and stop waiting for handouts.

Weak response. Try harder.

Weak response. Try harder.

You need a better face.

I support the idealism of this movement. I support what you are trying to do and I support the right to peaceful protest and freedom of assembly.

Unfortunately Occupy NS is swiftly becoming a joke. If you want to be taken seriously then develop a council of intelectuals to represent the group as whole. To see a bunch of hippies playing drums, playing with firesticks, shitting in bushes and smoking dope totally mars the credibility of the movement. The general public sees this as a contragation of people who are career protestors who probably haven't had enough legal job experience to know what they are even protesting against. I respect people who have a 9-5 who are down there trying to improve their conditions, but not those who are living off of social assitance because they feel minimum wage employment is below them.

I not once have seen anything

I not once have seen anything to represent the 99%. Of the various times I have walked through parade square, I was asked for weed, I saw a rave, and saw people making out on the cenotaph. I took video footage for myself of one night when I was there, and it looked like an after hours drunk junkie rave. I'm sorry, the movement was a terrible way to voice your opinions, I feel as if you all had the wrong message from the beginning. You had nothing to back you up, besides your sister movement "Occupy Wall Street" and the Halifax has now got a bad taste in its mouth.

 

However, I do believe it was dealt with in a terrible manner. It could have went a lot smoother, but if you look back on history, movements usually never end easy. It always results in a group think.

Simple

If you Break the law, set up tent in the city parks you have to let the police do their job and remove those tents from the park simple as that.

The occupy "Protest" is a Joke, 

If you want to protest go ahead and protest but explain to me how setting up tents in a park and disregarding all laws, and other citizens, is any type of ------ you know what this whole thing is foolish..

 

Thank you

Thank you, Miles. You did the right thing on the 11th and 12th.

Get a job!!!

Most of these jobsless, welfare collecting, pot smoking hippies needed to get their asses out of the parks and Grand Parade. I think he city of Halifax and the Mayor have put up with your crap for way too long!! So those of you who ignored the eviction. You got what you deserved!!
In saying that please do us all a favor. Get a JOB!! Get a LIFE!!! And please for the love of God start becoming an active member of society!!
Friggin Hippies! Pathetic!!

Moderators

I guess my comments were not posted. I didn't support the hippies or trash the mayor enough.
I feel my right to freedom of speech has been violated!!

Solidarity with Canadians!

Sounds like you're going tthrough he same crap as here. Except it's colder. Is there Occupy Fairbanks? Another stategy is what in Britain was called UKuncut and here USuncut.  Demonstrators go into banks and corporations and passively resist or hold teach ins. In San Francisco, JP Morgan Chase was a target for Occupy demonstrators. In America, I think we should get our collective act together and flood the DC mall, where Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous "I have a dream" speech. No need to choose just one issue. Carry signs against corporate greed, tax banks and corporations, support Obama who has tried to tax millionaires, billionaires, and corporations - meeting the usual implacable opposition of Republicans, anti wars, etc.  What is the equivalent political space  to the DC mall in Canada? In Ottowa?  When enough people show up a the Washington mall to cause traffic jams, politicians pay attention. We should have gone two and a half years ago to demand a single payer health plan, and get a public option. An Obama campaign guy who called me agreed, with some justified anger. Instead the few Tea Partiers took over, as the left contemplated its collective navel, blamed everyone except themselves,  and bitched to each other about it all. In my opinion there's  no perfect political or economic system, though national health care makes absolure sense financially and morally, there are still always problems. But here our constitution decrees right of peaceful assembly and free speech. How can mayors declare us a disturbance? I'd be interested in what Canadian law says. AND whether you're getting legal support. If not, look into it. I wonder what the NDP is doing, and whether there are Occupies in Quebec? The full list worldwide is available at OccupyTogether.org. Keep up your essential work! We're with you. And I just forwarded this link to The New York Times. 

Empire or Republic?

To all of you who are so ready to hate 'hippies' or 'deadbeats' or whatever label you decide makes another person unworthy of your understanding, I say this: Does juggling and dope-smoking bother you so much you are ready to abdicate your rights as a citizen? If you allow the state to abuse its power now, while you can still say something about it, you will lose the right to raise your voice in protest about anything else. You are relinquishing the hard-won civil rights that ordinary people have fought for, shed blood for and died for. All the progress we've made in this country for a fair society is coming undone. It's unravelling right in front of you, and your response is to point and call names.

 

You think you're making a choice in this case, and that you can still choose to exercise your freedom at a later date. It doesn't matter to you if this group of people is persecuted, but if the police were cracking down on you, then suddenly it would be wrong. You can't choose when the state will respect citizen's rights and when they won't. Either we are all free or none of us are free. This kind of talk about 'dirty people' and 'cleaning up the streets' has been heard before, and it's evil. It leads down a very dark path, and unless we stop and do some soul-searching here, we might find ourselves in a deep dark wood with no idea how to get out.

 

Are you only willing to defend the rights of people you agree with? Do we allow the state to dictate when and where we protest? We are witnessing the dismantling of democracy. Once it's gone it will be very hard to get it back.

It's Never Simple

I have read comments on this story asking for a simple explanation of the Occupy movement, comments about how disorderly the movement is, and how they 'just don't look good'. To those of you that expect the Occupy movement to have 'a better face', I say this: the 99% doesn't have one face. There's no single slogan or image that can represent all the various reasons people have to challenge the status quo. The 99% is a very diverse group. What the 99% all have in common is that we are not billionnaires. 

The Occupy movement doesn't have a publicity department, because it's not about telling you what to think. It's not about shutting your brain off and responding to an image or a slogan. That's a big part of what's got us as a society into this mess. 

When the financial industry is challenged about the state of the economy, we are told that it's too complicated to explain in simple terms. We are expected to just take it on the chin, and pay out billions without expecting any oversight or regulation imposed. The governments of the world have failed to represent you in this regard. 

Now that people are raising their voices in protest, they are asked to give a simple explanation, and if they can't express what they want in a simple sound bite, then you want them to be silent.

There are those that try and simplify it to a simple question of law and order. "They broke the law, the police enforced the law - end of story" - well, no that's not the end of the story. It's more complicated than that.

Were not talking about armed robbery here, this is a by-law. Take a moment to look up Halifax by-laws, and think about how many of them you personally have violated. There's by-laws for walking on the grass, making noise, building a fence, smoking, recycling, driving in bicycle lanes... It is absurd to imagine the police enforcing all these by-laws on all the citizens at all times. The eviction of the OccupyNS protesters was selective law enforcement. 

The law is not applied equally to everyone. The police do not equally serve everyone. There are those with privilege, that the law does not apply to in the same way that it does to the rest of us. If you want to simply accept that as 'the way things are' then that's your right. It is also your right to get out there and make some noise and protest about it.

The police were not used to protect your beloved 'no camping in the park' by-law. They were used to protect the 1% from dissent. The by-law is just the excuse that Peter Kelly used to employ force to silence a non-violent protest.

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