Bylaw Bill and the Midnight Raid – Mandi Schrader

23 Nov

Many Calgarians have complained about the city’s lack of action against Occupy Calgary. We at the Free Press would like to make a point of thanking Calgary Police Service for not pepper spraying anyone and continuing to protect our rights as human beings to safety and security of the person.

Despite the serving of 24 hour eviction notices last Tuesday, there was little action taken to enforce them. At least until 11:30 pm Monday Nov 21.

I arrived on the scene to find a police van blocking Macleod Trail and a large group of bylaw officers removing tents under CPS supervision. I approached one officer and asked him to tell me what was happening. he told me they were removing unoccupied tents. I asked him what would become of the tents and the possessions they contained and he assured me that they would be held and the owners could contact Bylaw about claiming them.

This did not turn out to be entirely true. More on that in a moment.

The Olympic Plaza demonstrators were undaunted. Even as the tents were pulled down and tossed into the back of a truck, we unanimously declared, “The Occupation does not end here.” Passages from the charter were chanted and songs were sung into the chilly air as police cameras filmed the demonstrators who stood together to show that the info tent at least was definitely Occupied.

There are still many tents standing. The Occupation of the Plaza continues.

I spoke that night to a bylaw officer who asked that his name be withheld. He said to me, “Our department has laid off three guys this week and asked three more to take early retirement because of budget cuts. We just had to go down by the river and do this same thing to a camp that I think belonged to a homeless family. They are going to come back to find the little they had is gone. This isn’t right.”

It certainly wasn’t  right for one homeless mother to be. She returned after a visit to the hospital to the camp which had served as her only shelter and safety to find all of her belongings gone.

And where did they go? Several demonstrators found that their personal effects had been discarded. Blankets, clothing and other personal effects were dumped in a nearby lot.

CBC radio interviewed Bill Bruce, head of Calgary Bylaw service about his reasons for entering the camp in the middle of the night with no warning. that podcast can be listened to here.

I especially like the part where he terminates the interview. 

Bill Bruce claims that the warning came in the form of 24 hour eviction notices served the week before. The question of why they did not enforce them 24 hours later in the daytime instead of a week later by dark of night remains unanswered.

Later that night a homeless first nations man named John Green wandered into the camp. The man claimed to have been beaten up by CPS officers before being dropped off at the camp where he says they told him, “Go to the tents.”

It is true that Mr. Green was intoxicated at the time and we are unable to verify the story. However if it is true it seems to amount to a kind of implicit acknowledgement of the camp as a safe space for homeless people. 

The next morning, spirits and temperatures rose and attitudes remain optimistic. Though it is only a matter of time before further action is taken. We hope it won’t be done in such a cowardly fashion.

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18 Responses to “Bylaw Bill and the Midnight Raid – Mandi Schrader”

  1. No Commitment, No Tents November 24, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    Maybe they did it when they wanted to. They gave notice, more in fact than they are required to.

    If the occupiers feel they have a charter right to peacably assemble, them by all means assemble. Be there. Peacable assemble is not the same as dropping down some personal property in a public area, and expecting it to be there for 3 or 4 hours a day when you feel like being there. Be committed. If it means that much, be there. Or go home, and come back. Again and again and again. Be there. Be committed.

    But I dont feel that leaving all your junk in a public area is peacable assembly. Not when youre not there, anyways. And thats the only ones they removed. Really, this is not a question of principle, its really a matter of commitment and laziness. No suprise to me at all. Its exactly what I thought would occur.

    • idnami November 24, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

      Tell that to the pregnant homeless lady who came back from a hospital visit to find everything she owned dumped in a vacant lot. Did you actually read the post?

      • No Commitment, No Tents November 24, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

        I did, and I have to say, that personally, all political differences aside, I’d hope that Child and Family Services removes that child 2 minutes after the mother gives birth. You see, decisions must be made “in the best interests of the child” and if a Mother cannot properly provide for her child, regardless of the reason, then in these interests, the child should be removed to a place more suited to providing and supporting that child. I say this as a single parent who has always provided for my son, regardless of whatever difficulty life passed my way.

        If this persons plan for child rearing included spending the winter in a tent, then this is quite obviously, the only reasonable choice.

        Further, she seemed to me more upset at her fellow “Occupiers” who promised to “guard” each others tents in the event of attempted removal. Obviously, this never occurred. Perhaps other occupiers needed to protect their own tents, pipes, and dejeridoos, than her pills and all of her worldly posessions. With friends like, that, who needs enemies!!

        Then again, I’d never leave everything I needed to provide for my child in a sidewalk.

        Just my thoughts

        • idnami November 25, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

          If you had a choice about it maybe you wouldn’t. I have no idea why that woman was homeless and it does not automatically follow that she is a drug addict or an unfit human being. All I’m saying is that to do something like that in the dead of night with callous disregard for the people involved is wrong. Even so I would have far less objection had they actually kept the personal possesions in storage as they said they would and not dumped them in a lot.
          The occupied camp has, fortunately and unfortunately, become a haven for street people of all types. I don’t think it’s a bad thing that even the most troubled members of society have found a place where they are welcome, despite how bad they sometimes make the rest of us look.
          If bylaw notice was 24 hours then it should have been enforced 24 hours later, not a week later in the middle of the night. The argument was that the park is closed after 11 so that is the logical time to come in and remove people. But they didn’t ask the people to leave, they only took the tents. I arrived shortly before midnight. I approached a bylaw officer to ask what was up. He didn’t say, “the park is closed. I have to ask you to leave please.” He said, we are removing unoccupied tents. If they had given even an hour’s warning of the specific time to expect this action I could respect that. But they gave a specific time and it didn’t happen then, but a week later, at night. So much for justice and due process.

      • Anonymous November 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

        Due process? They gave you (sorry, not you, the campers) an additional week to leave. What did you think was going to happen?
        Bylaws are in place for a reason so begin to follow them like the other 99%

        I realize that the campers are only a small portion of the Occupy Calgary “movement” but they are creating a bad image for the rest of you.

        • idnami November 25, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

          Well, what I thought was going to happen is that they would be back 24 hours later as they said. I wonder what happened. Did they forget? Were they too busy fielding phone calls from angry taxpayers? Was there something more important to do? I guess we’ll never know. Bill Bruce hung up on the CBC for asking similar questions. I bet he won’t be taking my call.

      • Frank Enbeens November 26, 2011 at 9:16 am #

        If everything she owned was “dumped in a vacant lot” by the big bad city, how is this so evil? Should she have been put up at the Palliser? I mean, she was living in a vacant lot to begin with. Now its just a different lot. Hardly seems like “callous disregard” on the part of the city, who did warn her this would come.

        She simply has to ask for help from the city and she will get it, in terms of accomodation. And with a place to live she could possibly keep her kid, too. Doesn’t sound like a big bad city to me. I assume she wants to keep her kid, and I think we all agree that a kid needs a home.

        Idnami, am I wrong here?

        • idnami November 26, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

          I completely agree that the kid needs a home. I wish the lady and her baby well. But I’m sorry she had to deal with a traumatic event last week. I don’t know where homeless people can safely store their possessions.
          And here is the thing. I don’t think it was “the big bad city.” I didn’t see one bylaw officer who didn’t look uncomfortable with what they were doing. One of them even said, “this is wrong.”
          I honestly feel grateful that the city has been as supportive as it has. However things like this are very much against the procedures they set forth. If you give 24 hours notice, come back in 24 hours, not a week. If a bylaw is SO important enforce it from day one instead of 6 weeks later. People can get as mad as they want about people breaking bylaws (bylaws, for god’s sake! If you guys demanded transparency from your federal government with so much energy we wouldn’t be in this mess) but something is wrong with a system that plays mind games with people instead of straightforwardly enforcing those hallowed bylaws!

      • Frank Enbeens November 26, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

        Honestly, while I agree it is a bylaw, and certainly not a serious criminal charge, do you really think the procedure should be to come at a previously announced time to enforce laws.

        Example

        Cops: Hey, were going to come by your house at 8:15pm to execute a warrant, okay.

        Bad Guy: Sure, I might not be home then, maybe we could arrange another time that I might be unavailable, oops, I mean available.

        Its called NOTICE, not an APPOINTMENT. It sure would be handy if the folks down at OP knew when the cops were coming. Why then they could have been there, exercising their rights. As opposed to elsewhere. Im sure they were all at work, or volunteering, or at the doctors at that time.

        In addition, the officers are not as naive as the OP folks apparently are. Of course theyre gonna be polite. They know theres videos everywhere. 20 years ago they would have just went down there with some billy clubs and removed you guys first night. But now, they smile, and load your crap into a van. And put it into storage for you to get later on. Dont mistake that for them being on your side. Im sure they all sit around the water cooler and discuss how theyd really like to solve this little problem. I do.

        • idnami November 26, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

          I have no doubt you do. I’m assuming the non-action so far means SOMEONE is on our side. Hmmmm…
          Seriously people, get over it. I didn’t hear all this rage back when OP was the home of drug dealers, drunks and pervs. Your attention is being misdirected.

        • idnami November 26, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

          Also, a friend down at the camp just mentioned on FB that an officer who was guarding the skating rink was able to overhear today’s GA and cheered along with them at points. He even did the “twinkles” finger wiggling gesture to show agreement. How awesome is that? I know YOU don’t think it’s awesome but it does go to show that a few working, middle class Calgarians actually GET what we are trying to do here. Yeah, someone out there is on our side.
          I am now sick of talking about tents. I’m going to write a post about what the REST of Occupy is up to.

  2. Anonymous November 24, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    They did it at 11:30 because after 11pm you are no longer allowed to be in the park…

    • idnami November 24, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

      Yes I realize… but they didn’t do it when they said they would, which would have been 1130 am and would have been a lot less scary for everyone. There may have been a logical reason for that choice but I do believe part of the reasoning was that at that time of the evening they would be able rally few supporters. They were wrong. I and several others were there the moment that we heard. I arrived before midnight and it only started at 1130. I think the arrival of the number of extra people made a difference.

      • Anonymous November 24, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

        Perhaps if the people that were “Occupying”, were there it wouldn’t have happened…

        The bylaw officers came on possibly the warmest night in the last month and yet only 8 of the approximate 40 tents were occupied…

        Sounds like you are committed to a cause!

        Have your protest, but let others enjoy Olympic Plaza. All taxpayers should have access and because of your selfishness, they can’t.

        • idnami November 24, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

          Yes they can. The access to the park is in no way restricted.
          Let me ask you, have you BEEN to Olympic Plaza? Because if you have you would know that the people who normally hang out there are drug dealers and drunks. It has never been a place I would take kids except maybe for skating. The tents aren’t out on the ice so you can still skate! You can still have a picnic if you want, the tents take up only a small corner of the park. The only reason people are mad about this is because the media likes to use words like “sqatters” and “your tax money” to get people riled up. It’s ridiculous. Don’t buy it. Think for yourself.

      • Anonymous November 24, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

        Do the squatters not include the homeless lady that you indicated above? I feel bad that she is in the position that she is in but she has made choices that weren’t in her best interest, and most importantly not her future child’s as well. I really hope that the child is taken away immediately to have a chance in life.

        People are mad because you are damaging a park. People are mad because you are costing people, yes, taxpayers money. People are mad because you keep saying “we are the 99%”. You aren’t the 99% so quit speaking for us. If you were the 99%, there would be more tents and they wouldn’t have been removed.

        As for people using the park, I am sure people want to come down to skate with a campground beside the ice. I sure would like to take my child down and let them see the garbage lying around and the group hugs.

        You should have taken the offer from the city when you had the chance. I am actually upset that they made that offer to you, I don’t think you deserve it. There is financial need for more important groups then you.

  3. Jan Bacon November 23, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    good post, thanks… keeps those who weren’t there in the loop… and puts paid to a lot of other rumours (hugs)

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