Opinion Column

Time's up for Occupy Vancouver


In the aftermath of the death by overdose of Ashlie Gough at the Occupy Vancouver encampment in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery, emergency management officials have been trying to force the occupiers into compliance with various municipal bylaws.

The occupiers have, for their part, stated openly that they do not recognize the authority of the city, the fire department or the police department.

From the outset the Vancouver Police Department has been trying to kill the protestors with kindness, refusing to get into any physical altercation. They would prefer that the oncoming winter ultimately force them to fade away.

But that seems unlikely now that the so-called protest has been infiltrated by anarchists and homeless people. In fact, there are very few of the original protestors remaining according to police. So, can the original strategy still work? It remains to be seen if the city will get the court injunction they are seeking - or if the VPD will act on that injunction without a corresponding enforcement order.

Watching the video on You Tube of last week's confrontation between occupiers and the fire department and escorting police officers was painful. In trying to enforce city bylaws the police officers ignored criminal acts that were very open and in several cases directed at the police. In normal circumstances those individuals would be handcuffed and put in the back of the wagon in short order. It would seem these are not normal circumstances.

It is troubling to see the images of police officers overtly backing away from screaming, threatening "protestors" as they openly assault officers, threaten with a switchblade (a prohibited weapon in Canada), and openly obstruct the police in the execution of their duty.

While I understand the politics at play in dealing with this protest, I am uncomfortable with the concept. Once the protestors know they can act with impunity, the only way back to any degree of normalcy is with the application of sufficient force to assert the superiority of the rule of law.

We saw the first vestiges of this Tuesday as the fire department took down some tarps and assorted other trash. VPD arrested one simple-minded twit who sat down in the middle of Georgia and Howe. But the tension was palpable as protestors begin to realize that there are limits to patience.

The courts will rule on the injunction today and Friday is the next scheduled inspection. This should be over soon.