Vancouver Mayor Calls For Peaceful End To Occupy Protest
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says the city is negotiating with Occupy Vancouver demonstrators to end their protest peacefully.
About 100 protesters continue to camp on the lawn of the Vancouver Art Gallery just over a week after the protest began.
Last week, the city said the protest had already cost more than $500,000 in additional policing and city resources, and critics have called on Robertson to take immediate action to dismantle the tent city.
"We would like to end it peacefully and with respect," Robertson said Monday. "We dont want to see the chaos we've seen in many other cities who have gone in with mass arrests ... That's not the kind of ending we want here, we want it to be peaceful."
Robertson said last week that forcibly removing demonstrators is not the answer. But on Monday, he declined to name a date by which he thought the protest should end.
Robertson's primary mayoral opponent, city councillor Susan Anton, also said she wants to see the Occupy stint end.
"It's very costly to taxpayers right now. Time to pack up and go home," Anton said.
At least one of the Vancouver protestors said he was not prepared to co-operate.
"We're not going to leave this place unless we are dragged out," he said. "I'm going out in a body bag or stay 'til they bring the government down."
The protests is inspired by Occupy Wall Street, a grassroots movement that has spread to more than 80 countries and featured demonstrations against global financial inequality and corporate greed.
On Sunday, dozens of protesters took to the streets, blocking traffic at several downtown Vancouver intersections over the course of a few hours.
The rotating blockades came a day after demonstrators occupied a number of downtown Vancouver banks — dancing on counters and staging sit-ins, forcing several banks to close early.
Police address crowd
Protesters say Vancouver police have made a marked effort to deal with demonstrators respectfully.
"I don't know how long this is going to go on and I would like to be able to talk to you guys, that we can have that open and honest dialogue," Vancouver police Insp. Glen Newman told the protesters during Sunday's demonstration.
"If we have to resort to arrests ... it doesn't look good for anybody. It doesn't look good for you guys — you are not going to generate support, in my opinion, for your cause from the people you are asking for support from."
To date, no damage has been reported and no arrests have been made.