Tear Down Those Tents

City to Evict Occupiers

Photo Jacob Roberts
Photo Jacob Roberts

Following in the footsteps of cities across North America, the City of Montreal issued an order on Monday calling on the denizens of Occupy Montreal to vacate Victoria Square.

According to a report on CTV’s website, Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay was the one to give the order.

“I have always said that peace and security on-site and off-site should be the paramount consideration,” said Tremblay. “As these conditions are not met, the time has come that the [Occupy activists] find other ways to get their message across. I’m sure they will understand the need for action as soon as possible.”

CTV cited accounts of an incident at the camp that took place Monday, with various witnesses saying there had been an attack by someone wielding a knife. Others said that the person or people had been “just using a knife to make late-night modifications to their tents,” and the fight that allegedly took place was verbal and not physical in nature.

This comes directly after the Occupiers decided to comply with the city on Nov. 16, and agreed to take down all wooden structures located on the plot of land in the centre of the financial district.

Occupy Montreal had voted in a general assembly to take down several structures, in accordance with a demand made from the city, which had deemed several of the wooden structures at Occupy Montreal unsafe after an inspection by the fire department.

The city had raised two main concerns: one, that the structures were unsafe, as they’re neither fireproof nor able to withstand a heavy snowfall; and two, that they didn’t want anything built that could be perceived as a permanent structure.

In response, and after much deliberation, the general assembly of Occupy Montreal voted in favor of removing the offending structures in return for something from the city.

“We accept the demands of the city that most of the wooden structures will be taken down by Sunday,” said a man who identified himself as Jean.

“As long as the city first gives us a written guarantee of our right to occupy the Place of the People responsibly in tents as defined by Health Canada. Amendments: that the guarantee be reviewed by a lawyer. And that a press conference will be held on this occasion between the city and the occupants.”

The structures in question included teepees made of wood, a longhouse and a network of tarps that have been strung up as a roof over the individual tents. Occupiers had been informed on Nov. 11 of the city’s position and originally had conflicted responses to the ruling.

Greg Addams, a worker in the coffee tent, said, “They are trying to make it a little miserable for us to test how resilient we are. We’re proving how resilient we are.”

“Honestly and truly,” he maintained, “the movement is not going anywhere.”

Whether that’s the case remains to be seen, however—if the Occupiers don’t bow to the mayor’s demands, it’s likely only a matter of time before the riot police are vdispatched, following in the footsteps of Quebec City, Oakland and New York City.