Sunday, November 06, 2011

Testing Occupy

Occupy Vancouver is in trouble
The death of a woman taking part in the Occupy Vancouver protest at the city's art gallery has led the city's mayor to announce the protest movement's tent city will be cleared. "I have directed the city manager to expedite the appropriate steps to end the encampment as soon as possible with a safe resolution being absolutely critical to that," Mayor Gregor Robertson said Saturday night. Police said a woman in her 20s was found unresponsive inside a tent at the encampment at about 4:30 p.m. PT Saturday.
"Tragically, she could not be revived," Vancouver police Const. Jana McGuinness told reporters. "She was transported to hospital and pronounced deceased at hospital.
A death on the Downtown East Side does not spawn calls from the mayor to fix that particular neighbourhood. Fatal traffic accidents do not produce calls to keep cars off the roads.

Ashley's tragic death must not be abused by the state as excuse to shut down the encampment. This is a serious test for the movement as there are likely to be more untimely deaths and injuries if it really starts to challenge the status quo and entrenched interests. This is likely a sobering moment for some as the business of reorganising society and disrupting power is a very serious one. In other places, monks self-immolate, troops are deployed for massacre, villages are razed, and people are disappeared, yet they people don't stop resisting. Indeed it is because of these measures that the resistance often continues.

If the police move in, the Occupation can resist. If they manage to clear it, the Occupation can reform elsewhere in Vancouver, maybe in the nice heated space of Vancouver City Hall. The major strength of the movement is perseverance. People do not come out for a day of protest, but a protest of days, weeks, or even years, growing in number until the call for change cannot be ignored or overturned.

The whole point of all this is the transgressive rejection of the coercive and impoverishing influence of the state and private capital on our lives. This most definitely includes resistance to the state in all instances where it seeks to clear the Occupiers. It works like this:


Scanner said...

Apparently the rumours from the cops is the hit the lady had was loaded. Some people from the occupation are devastated at her death but they are all holding together. Will the media start reporting on OD deaths every day now? I think not.
One can hope that this goes very badly for Hiz Worship.

double nickel said...

A pretty lame attempt by da mayor to find an excuse to shut the place down. It won't work.

West End Bob said...

A death on the Downtown East Side does not spawn calls from the mayor to fix that particular neighbourhood. Fatal traffic accidents do not produce calls to keep cars off the roads.

Exactly, Boris. This point was eloquently stated by Occupy Vancouver spokesperson Sasha Wiley-Shaw in a CTV News Channel interview today.

This decision - if implemented - does not reflect well on Hiz Honour. I'm gettin' ready to email his office now . . . .

Anonymous said...

Although I think the death was all the ammunition the city needed to evict the camp (and I wouldn't be surprised if their were biding their time to be given a reason), I don't completely oppose it.

Most of me supports the Occupy movement, in theory I think its pretty amazing and more than anything I'm thrilled people are amassing and DOING SOMETHING, but I don't throw all my support behind it only because due to the nature of the beast, there is more to it than merely opposing corporate greed and all the other collective and in a way, "positive" causes. There are extremists on either end of anything, and I've heard first hand from friends involved with the Occupy camp in Canada's capitol city about fascists, racists, neo-nazi "activists" over running the camp and spreading unhealthy propaganda. I do know people in the Van Occupy camp and though they're friends, I recognize that they are pretty extreme in their "anarchist" stances on a lot of issues.. and there's a bit of a clear issue with anarchists attempting to organize a camp that doesn't endanger the participants.

The city does have some responsibility over the camps. Deaths or injuries incurred there for whatever their cause will reflect upon them. If Occupy was organized, they'd be aware of this and would take the measures needed to avoid something as tragic as this to tar their image and lead to their forced closure.

I've spent time in the downtown east side of Vancouver and I've probably only seen the tip of the iceberg. Do I think the city has shown an adequate response to its rampant drug problem? Absolutely not, not even close and I'd go so far as to say most of what I've seen the city do in recent years has caused more harm than good, but justifying an overdose as just characteristic of the city and eliminating the camp's responsibility is equally as harmful to an already at risk demographic.

karen said...

I like the idea of occupying someplace nice and warm. What about all our government buildings? City Halls, Legislatures, Parliament?