Occupy, don't vacate

The city of Vancouver is trying to win an injunction to force Occupy protesters to pack up and leave.

The proposed eviction infringes on the right to protest and should be resisted.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson faced criticism from his opposition for letting the Occupy movement continue despite calls for campers’ removal.

The ensuing injunction was stalled in court and will be heard over the course of three days next week.

It’s a move that comes shortly after the death of Ashlie Gough, a 23-year-old woman who died during a visit to the Occupy camp. Gough’s cause of death is currently unconfirmed. Toxicology tests are being conducted to rule whether or not Gough died from a drug overdose.

Her death is a tragedy, but isn’t a sufficient reason to shut down the occupation.

Vancouver is a city with a drug problem, and a 2005 report by the Canadian Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use went so far as to say that the city’s Downtown Eastside district has an injection drug epidemic.

If proven to be a drug overdose, Gough’s death serves as a microcosmic example of the struggles facing the city as a whole.

Occupy activism around the world is a popular movement motivated by different concerns. Having Vancouver’s site shut down because of one tragedy would be an affront to direct democracy.

The official reasons for the injunction cite the city’s land regulation bylaw as well as concerns of fire safety, drug use and sanitary issues.

Worries surrounding fire hazards and sanitation are legitimate, but aren’t reason enough to force the protesters to pack up their tents. Instead, a compromise should be found wherein protesters and their tents are allowed to stay but in a safe space.

Don’t evict protesters, focus on the safety of the make-shift campground.

Occupy protestors must be fully aware of how their presence affects the common conception of the movement. Everyone has the right to protest, but bad publicity will hurt the cause.

In a protest against social inequality it would be ironic and undemocratic to evict Occupy participants. Instead Vancouver needs to protect its citizens’ right to protest and address the concerns brought forward.

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