City Hall occupation continues
It’s been nearly two weeks since the Occupy Nelson rally at City Hall, but committed occupiers continue to camp and gather in front of the government building.
A group of occupiers met with Mayor John Dooley, members of council and city staff to address requests from the occupiers and the city was able to make requests.
One was that occupiers vacate the property on November 9 for the annual Remembrance Day ceremony.
The group met again Tuesday and Dooley said, like last week’s meeting, it went “very well.”
Dooley met with the smaller group in the morning and the larger group (which meets nightly) in the evening.
“I think both of us are looking for opportunities to get our own messages out and figure out ways to work together,” said Dooley. “I think it went quite well and last night [Tuesday] they agreed to be moved off the site on November 9.”
As far as some of the other requests the city made, such as all of the campers being in a central location, preferably on the concrete so city staff can continue maintenance, Dooley said the groups are still working on that piece.
“I thought the conversation went well and it was very constructive. I think we have lines of communication now which are working well for us and we are going to continue to move forward,” he said.
A perceived challenge in meeting with the Occupy Nelson group has been that the group has no hierarchy and therefore has no leader or chosen spokesperson.
Dooley said during the meetings they didn’t speak specifically about the vision and message of the Occupy Nelson group, but addressed how to work together to get their message out and how they can understand the city’s message as well.
Cheryl Burr has been active with the Occupy Nelson movement and has been part of the evening meetings and last week’s meeting with Mayor Dooley.
She said much of the meetings have been addressing the Remembrance Day events.
“Because of the event that takes place every year there and we’re wanting to share that space with the community and out of respect for the event, we’re going to take down the camp stuff a couple of days before so that it can get all ready for the event and then I believe the plan is to move back in on November 12,” said Burr.
Since the Global Revolution Day which saw hundreds of Occupy movements spring up around the world, many have been broken up by local police and government such as Occupy Oakland, where police in riot gear attempted to use tear gas to break up occupiers.
The tent city which sprung up at the Vancouver Art Gallery as part of the Occupy Vancouver movement also appears to be facing an expiration date as it became part of the city’s mayoral debate.
But in Nelson the scene is much different and Burr said she “appreciates the voices of support from the city.”
“There isn’t much to argue about. I think any politician would get some serious egg on their face if they were overtly against it, particularly in this town. I think there are a lot progressive people around,” said Burr.
“I think we’re also trying to hold that space very respectfully and keep it clean, tidy and sanitary.”
The occupiers have continued to receive honks from passing cars and community support from people bringing down food and blankets as the cold sets in.
“I think it’s pretty hard not to support us. We’re not sitting at the park being hostile towards City Hall or any government worker. We’re not positioning ourselves in that sort of way,” said Burr.
“We’re not feeling angry and hostile at people but actually feeling really energized that we need change and we need change bad and this is the coming together of people around that.”