This morning I was en route to the Service Ontario counter at Ottawa City Hall. I needed to extend OHIP coverage for my trip to Costa Rica. Ottawa City Hall is right near Confederation Park and I decided to check it out. Two days ago I wrote a blog post about the day after the eviction and received a surprising amount of traffic on my site.
That night, or rather the next morning, Ottawa Police served the notice and removed the remaining protestors. For context, the first night of the eviction there were 200 people in the park to resist, the second night there were 25. Police made eight arrests, by that I mean they cuffed eight people and dragged them out of the park then uncuffed them and told them to go home.
There was one guy, named Obert Madondo, who was charged under the trespassing act and fined $65. He also had to be taken to hospital after an incident during the arrest. He claims police treatment caused injury, he was taken to hospital and released later with his arm in a sling. The police claimed in a press release that the arrest aggravated a pre-existing condition. There is a video of Madondo leaving the emergency room at Ottawa General hospital here, and his statement.
Either way things happened largely the way the Ottawa Citizen hinted they would, not with a showdown and epic last stand, but rather remaining protestors were quietly removed and ticketed in the night. It was sad to see it end that way somewhat.
While I was at the park I was trying to find a photo that included some evidence of the 38 day occupation that had ended only 48 hours ago, there was almost nothing. I noticed some areas in the snow, squares and circles where there was no snow, these were footprints of the tents that had been there the night before. I started photographing some of the footprints of tents I had photographed two days earlier when suddenly a passerby started to shout at me.
She indicated there was a cute squirrel eating a peanut (it was actually eating a cookie) in a tree, she was hinting that I should photograph that instead. I humored her and she remarked, “Isn’t it nice to have the space back again?” before leaving.
The photo is cropped a lot, and was shot with Canon’s ‘thrifty fifty’ 50mm f/1.8, so there’s some gross chromatic aberrations at this crop… Its a good thing I ordered a 135mm f/2.
As a final note, early in occupy Ottawa’s infancy I took a proactive role in the media committee. At the time I felt documenting the creation of this alternative society was what I had to offer. There is a flickr photostream, where I uploaded most of my photos but here is one I liked. It was taken at a march on October 19th before the movement in Ottawa started to drift away from the so-called 99%.
That’s it for today.
Below are my thoughts on the occupy Ottawa movement, they have been shaped by my visits to the camp, my involvement with the occupy Ottawa media committee and conversations and interviews with people for and against the movement. My interest was peaked by the inner journalist and my involvement was driven by the political science student in me. I stepped away from the movement a few weeks ago because of how felt issues of harassment reported in the camp were being handled, and because I felt occupy Ottawa was failing to achieve what it had intended to do. That and the ever mounting pressure of school and work. However, with the eviction process started, it seemed time to take a look at the occupation again.
The nature of an occupation is never considered pleasant. Typically an occupation implies the removal of rights from citizens native to a place by others from another place, usually imposing foreign values through force. North America understands this concept because that is the nature of the foundation of our societies. For all but a few, occupation is an unpleasant and oppressive thing.
The nature of the occupy movement is somewhat Marxist as it promotes class distinctions, are you in the 99% or the 1%? The typical organization of each occupation in Canada has been anarchist in nature, promoting social organizational values of non-oppression, decentralization and consensus building. In Canada at least, the occupy movement has been somewhat detached from the so-called ‘99%’ as a result.
In the United States, the middle class has been bullied by more than just the banks; for decades there has been the health care industry, insurance providers and their own government as well. The United States is going through a period of self-awareness that Canada has either already experienced or has yet to experience. Either way our middle class has not historically been hurt in the same way; while that is not the prevailing trend of the future for the Canadian middle class it is the pattern of the past. Since the occupy movement draws support from the ‘99%’s’ experience of oppression at the hands of the ‘1%,’ for an occupation to be successful it requires the middle class of a society to feel oppressed.
The Canadian middle class does not feel oppressed enough for occupations like those in the United States to work. This has become apparent through the somewhat lackluster display of physical defense as evictions across Canada roll on.
We have not seen photos of riot police beating protestors in Canada because the cities and police forces have chosen to allow the movements to whither and then used tenancy law as a means to remove them whilst maintaining a positive public image.
This morning, the day after the National Capital Commission was supposed to evict everyone, and the day after the general assembly in which occupy Ottawa voted to resist, 10 or so people remained. If occupy Ottawa and other so-called, ‘occupations’ want to remain relevant it may be time to pack up, regroup and reorganize. I would suggest a start would be to change the name, as occupations have not been pleasant or positive things, historically.
It will be interesting to see occupy Ottawa and the NCC handles this in the coming days.
**The following photos were added a few hours later**
Played around a bit with shooting into the sun, but I thought with the sun, tents and courthouse it said, “Morning, still there, law.”
Then I wandered around the camp a bit, it was quiet people were cleaning up. I saw a few protestors playing with sticks like swords, so I took a few photos.
After I turned back towards the courthouse and noticed some people taking some tents down, so I snapped a few photos, I liked this one.
So that is all for this post, I promise.