Occupy Toronto, Part II: After a Month in St. James Park
I have been out of the park now for roughly two weeks. “Occupy Toronto” has ended our phase one. I must say, for all those who saw the tents being cleared-out: ending our park occupation does not mean the ending of our movement. The best way to stay in touch with us is through our website: http://occupyto.org/.
“Occupy Toronto” was and still is a phenomenon very new to Torontonians. I can probably make a generalization here and state that, the “Occupy” movement is something very new to North Americans in general. For myself as a European first, I am rather used to mass demonstrations, tear gas, police brutality and the like. For many North Americans all this is quite new though: these are young countries. Also, North America has had some glorious decades after WWII – life has been good here, until a few years ago. Now, things are not looking so good and people are beginning to mobilize. It is understandable.
That is what the “Occupy” movement is all about: mobilization of the masses; raising awareness and building solidarity between those who are looking for real change, world-wide. I had to smile at all the bummed-out spirits who felt that the world was ending when we began to clear-out the park. I tried to explain to them that when a seed is planted in the ground, one has to allow for time to pass, for that seed to germinate, to grow and to give birth to flowers (for example). The same can be said of the “Occupy” movement. We planted the seed. Now, we must care for it; time will pass and if we remain strong, our movement will grow. Patience, persistence and resilience will be necessary and we will overcome.
I looked around the park in the last days there. We packed almost every possible patch of grass. We were literally running out of space. More tents were being set-up every day. Donations were flowing in: money, tents, blankets, food … it was all quite amazing to see. People of all ages, creeds and colours came together, in order to talk about the many socio-political grievances which we all face.
“Occupy Toronto” has been a phenomenal experience. We took an empty park and turned it into a small community. After a month, we had teams of people who worked on specific tasks: logistics, food, peace-keeping, sanitation, etc. We had medics, police liaisons, an info desk, all running twenty-four hours a day. I personally woke-up at around a quarter to four (am that is) to begin my security/peace-keeping shift, every night that I was there. I must say, that we were so good that we were able to remove undercover police officers from the park (and I have photos to prove it). We policed ourselves and we did a fairly good job at it considering our circumstances.
The entire month in the park was a learning experience. We made important connections, we started critical conversations and we even had one or two politicians pass by. I do thank Mr. Bob Rae for his stealth-like walks through the park in the early hours of the morning. I know he thinks we are a little radical but we were not radical enough to keep him away from visiting. Perhaps he will stop being so shy and come to speak at one of our General Assemblies (if time permits it of course). Or perhaps he can invite us at one of his fund-raisers …
For now the occupiers have scattered around but the most important thing is that we are united! We are connected and we can mobilize in a very short period of time. Being spread all over the city now, it makes it quite easy to build our spider web. Connect the dots is what is happening now: all over the city, the country and the world. We are united. We are growing. We are the “Occupy Movement” and we are taking over!