Occupy This!

Folks, I am hoping members of Occupy Niagara can apply to join as a contributor.

We made our late, though grand debut on November 7, 2011, at the CAW Hall, where over 100 people appeared to discuss the possibility of occupying some place in Niagara.  We came down to a choice of 3 places:  Montebello Park, City Hall or the Courthouse (together with Knox Presbyterian Church next door to it).  These spaces had the quality of accessibility, visibility, relevance, winterization potential and proximity to various places that the group might wish to target in its protests.

The next meeting took place at Montebello Park at the gazebo on November 15, 2001, where about 50 – 60 persons gathered, first to learn the universal general assembly protocols and to discuss inclusiveness and how to ensure the movement remains an inclusive one.  We moved up into the gazebo after to discuss various issues, ranging whether we want to focus on occupying the park, or to use it as a meeting place to organize other targeted actions.  A go around introduction was done and several people present signed up for various functions: communications, police liaison, facilitation functions, outreach, medical, etc.  Only about a quarter of those present intended to camp at the park.  We discussed this and felt we needed to send a delegation to the Office of Mayor Brian McMullan to further discuss our plans and to see how we can best carry out our objectives and address the city’s concerns about what might happen in the park.

We decided we would postpone the planned occupation on November 19, 2011, and meet again at the same place on Wednesday, November 23, 2011, at 6:30 p.m.  It turned out that today was a big day in Toronto anyways, as Mayor Rob Ford got his staff to evict people from Toronto’s St. James Park, but the occupants managed to secure a postponement through the courts, at least until this Monday.  Nevertheless, members of Occupy groups across Ontario, at least, gathered in the tens of thousands in Toronto this afternoon to make representation to Evict Rob Ford.

Rob Ford and his self-selected executive council members have been attempting to make disastrous cuts to city services that primarily affect the less well off in the past few months, so that wealthy property owners can save a few bucks on their property taxes.  Torontonians have rejected cuts by the largest plurality during all community consultations and appearances before its budget committee; however, Ford and his executive committee intend to go through on the majority of their cuts anyways.

Niagara folks care about this because this can just as easily happen here.  We don’t have nearly the amount of money and services available to folks here in Niagara that people in Toronto have enjoyed for years, but what little we have, we need to preserve.  We are also looking beyond Niagara: the worker’s compensation board, ODSP rates and its punitive rules, student debt, the lack of decent jobs in the region, homelessness, increasing depth of poverty for more and more people, and seemingly more influence and privilege for the 1% that frankly don’t need any extra help from the government, despite them getting the biggest welfare cheques of all.

Let’s talk about your reasons for joining Occupy and your experiences.



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