POLITICS

Occupy Canada: Eviction Notice Surprises Halifax Protesters In Downtown Square

10/26/2011 11:13 EDT | Updated 12/26/2011 05:12 EST
AP
HALIFAX - Occupy Nova Scotia protesters mulled their options Wednesday after getting an eviction notice to leave the public square in front of Halifax City Hall.

Mayor Peter Kelly wants the group to move to another space by the early evening of Nov. 6 so the Grand Parade can be cleaned up and readied for ceremonies marking Remembrance Day and Kristallnacht in Germany when more than 30,000 Jews were arrested by the Nazis in 1938.

Protest spokesman Stuart Caldwell said the mayor's directive came as a bit of a surprise and they haven't worked out a response yet.

"We're sort of waiting to see how this is going to play out. We've discussed it at great lengths and at this point we are exploring our options," said Caldwell.

He said the protesters want to speak to city officials to see if a compromise can be reached over the patchwork collection of tents pitched in front of city hall. About 70 people have been camping out peacefully in the square, which is home to the city's cenotaph, for the past two weeks.

Kelly said the city needs the Grand Parade to meet obligations to veterans for Remembrance Day and for the Dignity Day Ceremony on Nov. 9, which marks Kristallnacht, also known as the Night of the Broken Glass. At least 2,000 deaths were directly or indirectly attributable to the attacks.

He has offered the protesters space on the Halifax Commons, a large park that's about a 20-minute walk away.

"We're not trying to shut them down. We're offering up another venue not too far from here with a high profile and a lot of traffic," said Kelly.

"They've been very respectful and responsible in the past. We're hoping that continues."

Kelly wouldn't speculate on what would happen if the protesters decide to stay.

"We're in no hurry. That's why we've given them lots of time."

The demonstration is one of many around the world based on the Occupy Wall Street movement, which denounces corporate greed and economic inequality.

Jean Marie Deveaux, president of the Nova Scotia-Nunavut Command of the Royal Canadian Legion, said she hopes the protesters take the mayor up on his offer.

"The protest is very peaceful and I'm sure that they will take their tents and go over to the Commons out of respect for the veterans," said Deveaux.

"I really can't see them staying there with their tents because we'll have about 5,000 people there."

Deveaux said they would likely have to find a different venue if the tents remain.

"It's not a viable option because of the considerable preparation work that's involved. The sheer logistics of moving people. ... Grand Parade is not that big a space."

Caldwell said the protesters would weigh everything before making a decision.

"It's not impossible to move but we're just really more enthused about staying here because of the symbolic nature of the parade square. You can see the banks behind us."

Caldwell said they have spoken to police and military officials about ways to share the space that would address everyone's needs.

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