The Occupy Calgary protest would like to thank the City of Calgary for not using physical force to evict protestors from Olympic Plaza, and acknowledging we express a legitimate political point of view protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As the Occupy movement continues to grow we are saddened to see that protestors staying at Olympic Plaza face an increasingly difficult struggle to survive, which distracts them from their original cause.
The forces wishing to evict us have managed to turn this into a battle over Charter Rights, and shift discussion away from the social problems that brought us together in the first place. We did not come together to express a political opinion for its own sake—we came together because we feel there is something wrong about the distribution of wealth in society, and wanted a dialog to understand how this came to be, and what we can do to fix it.
The protestors representing us at Olympic Plaza are an eclectic group, and while they bring a multitude of issues they want addressed, this multiplicity has been detrimental to our protest because it has been difficult to organize a coherent statement declaring what the protest is about.
Calgary newspapers and television coverage has been a mixed bag; while some reporting has been positive and fair, other reports are maddening in the ways they selectively distort and misrepresent the facts.
A recent CTV News report showed a man identified as a construction worker who had wandered into Olympic Plaza, and got into an argument with the protestors. The construction worker, Richard Evans, had a “heated discussion” with protestor James Bullock, and with a heartwarming nod and a handshake, offered him a job, agreeing to pick him up for work from the plaza the next day. At 7:00am the following morning Evans returned with the CTV News camera in tow, unable to find Bullock thus confirming the protest itself is an excuse to squat on pubic land as opposed to having a real reason to be there, and concluded that Bullock would be an unreliable employee.
What the report failed to mention was Richard Evans is not a random spectator, but a known political agitator. The CTV News crew had to have known who he was; none of the protestors recognized him even though he was present at the Occupy Calgary rally held five days earlier on the steps of City Hall, heckling protestors with a sign that called them “dirty smelly hippies” while disguised head to toe in a chicken costume. Whether Evans knew Bullock has an existing condition that renders him unemployable, we can’t determine.
We question the sincerity of Evan’s job offer, having earlier revealed his desire to ridicule the protestors, some of whom are from the weakest and poorest segment of society and suffering from addiction and mental health problems. While some individuals may not be employable, they are still human, and perhaps know more than anyone about life’s unfairness and injustice. They are perfectly entitled to express their political opinions even if they do not “contribute to society” by paying taxes.
Occupy Calgary has many supporters, and is not limited to the group occupying the plaza. Many of us have jobs, children and other responsibilities that prevent our participation in the protest as much as we would like, so do not let the mainstream media tell you what to believe about the protest, because they have never met more that a few of us, and choose to present what they perceive whether it has any basis in reality or not.