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"Occupy Toronto", Part V: A Night Of Sleep-Deprivation
On May 1st, 2012 people world-wide came-out on the streets to protest the decaying socio-economic system which has gripped our world under the name of “globalization”. Many of us see that there is no way forward through greed, corruption and by investing our resources and energy in multinational corporations. Most of these corporations only care about profit and not in any way how we leave this world for the next generations to come.
Here in Toronto there were thousands of people who came to march downtown that day. We (“Occupy Toronto”) joined the march in solidarity and announced from the start that we would be re-occupying a park downtown for twenty-four hours. Of course, we knew we would be breaking by-laws and such. After our month long occupation last fall/winter, the city passed laws so that we cannot put-up tents in parks and there was also a curfew passed: between midnight and five o’clock in the morning nobody is supposed to be in parks. Mind You, homeless people have been and still are roaming Toronto’s parks on a nightly basis. They seem to not be bothered by the police but we are.
When we made it to our chosen destination, a tiny park in the center of downtown, the police officers were quick to mention that if anyone put-up any sort of structure, they would be arrested. Well, three chaplains decided to put-up a tent to use as a safe/sacred space and to make a long story short, they were quickly arrested, shoved into police vans and taken-away.
I could hardly believe it: it was not any of the anarchists with us who got arrested but a few chaplains … I suppose these chaplains can get pretty dangerous with their tents and candles – I am glad the police are keeping the city safe …
I knew that the idea of tents was not a good one and I did not bring my tent along because I also knew our occupation of that downtown park would only last twenty-four hours and thus, I only brought a few things from my camping gear, just to make it through the night (nights are still pretty cold here in Toronto). So, I got comfortable on a patch of grass without a tent or any sort of structure. The police officers eyed me gravely as I was pulling out some of my mountaineering blankets, food, hot tea, etc. I smiled. They did not seem impressed.
What was strange that night was that I did not recognize any of the police officers who were babysitting us and the negative energy flowing out of them was also strange … They walked amongst us in groups of two to four, putting their flashlights in our eyes as they passed-by. After a while, I realized that what they were doing was what I saw police officers doing in Florida, at “Occupy Tampa”.
The tactic of sleep-deprivation works well on some demonstrators. The police officers look for anyone who seems to be sleeping or close to falling asleep and approach them with their flashlights, saying things such as: “Hey, are You okay? You are not overdosing are You? Can You open your eyes, or do You need medical attention?”
I found that to be quite a disgusting way of dealing with other human beings which did not in any way bother them. So, after a couple of groups of cops passed by me with their flashlights basically telling me that I cannot go to sleep because they were not sleeping either, I pulled-out one of my spot-light flashlights and returned the favor. For the remainder of the night, as soon as a police officer approached me and I saw his hand go for the flashlight, I would pull-out mine first and flash it in their eyes telling them that I was fine and did not need any medical attention. It was a stupid game of “let’s annoy each other” but if that was the game they wanted to play, I joined the game …
That is how the entire night went-by - not a minute slept but that did not really faze me. As I told one police officer, I have worked in law-enforcement for a few years and so I am used to staying-up entire nights just walking around. On top of which my equipment is better than what the Police Department offers their employees thus, I could actually outlast them any day.
By the morning, their shift had changed and I saw police officers who I had known from before. They were the nicer kind, the ones who did not walk around like Robocops ready to throw people behind bars for any or no reason. When I approached one of them and started talking to him about the nastiness of the night shift, the man seemed embarrassed and told me that he was not there at night and that he did not know what had happened the night before.
To this day, I am wondering why the night-shift police officers were hand-picked to be the taunting and annoying kind … did they want confrontations or were the bully cops sent-in just to put-up a show of force and discourage any dissent? Either way, it does not really matter.
A few nasty police officers and a few sleepless nights is not enough to stop a world-wide movement. I can stay without sleep for more than just one night and I am not alone. When the pressure increases, we will increase the pressure. The System is crumbling already and so we do not actually have to do much except watch and plan what to do when the dust settles. I urge everyone to join the conversation on how we can implement a more just and fairer socio-economic system. The one which has brought the financial world to decay and has dumped austerity measures for generations to come is on its way out. We welcome good change, real change!