The Occupiers are the immediate menace, never mind what they denounce. Not only should they be obliged to dismantle the tents, yurts, barbecues and portable bathrooms they've set up in a Toronto park, and leave between the hours of midnight and 5:30, as ordered by a judge – they should be told to get out altogether.
The Occupy movement is a lesson in why revolutions tend to become vicious inversions of their stated beliefs. Even as the Occupiers in Toronto, Vancouver and other cities in Canada denounce the powers of the rich, they stationed themselves with bullying force in neighbourhoods and public squares. They declaim about inclusivity and participatory democracy, yet those who wished to stroll in the square outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, or play with their children in St. James Park in Toronto, were not allowed a say.
The affidavits of 11 neighbours, as documented by Mr. Justice David Brown of Ontario Superior Court, are horrifying. Women are sworn at in the ugliest terms, simply for walking dogs. Men are assaulted. Porta-potties stink. Smoke hangs in the air from open fires. Protesters brawl, smoke marijuana in the open. One neighbour, refusing to be deterred, writes, “When I enter the Park with my daughter I feel the need to wear her in a carrier attached to my body rather than using a stroller in order to keep her safe.” An occupation dangerous to small children lacks moral authority.
The theorist of this tent city, a 24-year-old business management student named Bryan Batty, called it a symbol of “a true unification of all humankind.” Judge Brown put it differently: Parks are not places “where the stronger, by use of occupation and intimidation,” can exclude the weaker.
Even if these protesters were what they seem to believe they are, their supposed right to Occupy would mean that any group – neo-Nazis, pedophiles, even millionaire capitalists – could do the same. Does free speech mean a park can't just be a park?
St. James Park is a lovely downtown green space that, before the Occupiers came, granted permits to five weddings and Woofstock, a dog festival. It, and other public spaces across Canada, should be returned at all hours, not just the ones after midnight, to its original uses.