A full three weeks after the Occupy Wall Street protest camp sprang up in New York City, a few stragglers announced they were almost ready to “Occupy Maple Ridge” and “Occupy Revelstoke.”
Perhaps other pathetic protests are still being dreamed up around B.C. But most have already packed up, and in places such as Prince George, these anti-capitalist rallies never led to an illegal squat.
Let’s be clear about our squats, the ones in Canada and particularly B.C. They are explicitly anti-capitalist and statist in their message, which is presumably why they were funded by government unions.
Despite the free food, power and porta-potties, these squats quickly became filthy and dangerous as the chronic street drug population replaced the spoiled young drummers and hula-hoopers who camped out to curse corporations on their iPhones. And yes, squats are still illegal here, following a unanimous October decision of the B.C. Court of Appeal against David Arthur Johnston.
This pretend-homeless guy’s antics are at the root of the latest squatter outbreak. Victoria and its courts caved in to Johnston and allowed camping on public property at night. But he demanded 24-hour squatting rights, because some supposedly homeless people are supposedly insomniacs too. Turns out there were plenty of shelter beds on which to snooze away the day or night, and his vague claim of a constitutional right to camp on public property was summarily dismissed.
I had a brief exchange with an Occupy Vancouver “organizer,” one Min Reyes, as she tried to rouse the reluctant radicals of Maple Ridge. Reyes defines herself in her Twitter profile as “Flirting with Anarchism while making love to Socialism,” which sums up B.C.’s Occupy movement as well as anything.
At Occupy Victoria, which I visited a few times before it descended into another needle park, signs warned against “chem trails,” smart meters and corporations. Campers were urged to “nationalize finance, energy and food” industries. Five-year plan for tractor production, anyone?
Nationalizing banks is also at the top of Occupy Vancouver’s long, pretentious list of demands.Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com