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London protestors link arms to protect a tent before police move in to clear them out in Victoria Park, November 8, 2011. (Geoff Robins/The Globe and Mail/Geoff Robins/The Globe and Mail)
London protestors link arms to protect a tent before police move in to clear them out in Victoria Park, November 8, 2011. (Geoff Robins/The Globe and Mail/Geoff Robins/The Globe and Mail)

London, Ont., police remove Occupy tents from city park Add to ...

Police in London, Ont., moved into a city park early Wednesday to remove structures after a deadline passed for protesters to do so themselves.

Several hundred people remained in Victoria Park after a 6 p.m. ET deadline passed for Occupy London protesters to remove their tents.

Mayor Joe Fontana had issued the deadline earlier Tuesday, some 2½ weeks after protesters first began setting up tents in the park.

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Mr. Fontana said protesters could continue their demonstration in the park, but the tents had to go and nobody would be allowed in the park between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. He said if they didn’t leave, they would be evicted. But the 10 p.m. deadline passed without incident.

London Police said early Wednesday that the last of the structures were being removed.

Insp. Kelly O’Callaghan said there were still “about 40 occupiers in the park,” but did not indicate if police would try to remove them.

Earlier Tuesday, about 1,000 people were in the park to hear a speech by Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan.

In Vancouver, the city’s police chief warned Occupy protesters to disperse after saying black-masked people pushed around firefighters, kicked and punched police and sent two officers to hospital with bite wounds.

Chief Jim Chu said the melee unfolded at the encampment in a downtown square around midnight Monday.

“If you wish to avoid arrest and avoid whatever violence will be initiated by those among you, we urge the legitimate protesters to leave now,” Chief Chu told reporters Tuesday, only hours before city lawyers began a process in B.C. Supreme Court to obtain an injunction to legally force the camp’s removal.

Chief Chu was joined by the city’s Fire Chief John McKearney as he said the tone of the camp has transformed from an initial “non-violent spirit of co-operation” to one with an “increasing number of problem people.”

The escalation of tensions in Vancouver comes as one of the various Occupy camps across the country voluntarily cleared out.

The public square in front of Halifax city hall was unoccupied Tuesday for the first time in nearly a month as the anti-capitalist protesters relocated ahead of Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Brian Crouse, one of the demonstrators, said the cleanup and subsequent move to a nearby park went smoothly.

“There’s a sense of real community and a sense that we leave this space in the best condition possible,” Mr. Crouse said as he helped load a moving van.

Corey Samoila said he spent the night tearing down tents and helped provide security because tension grew.

“Because of the move, some people got a little hostile. It got interesting but we managed to calm everything down,” said Mr. Samoila.

“I think common sense kicked in – and the fact that the food and the medical tents weren’t going to be here.”

The protesters later began pitching tents at Victoria Park a few blocks away.

Mayor Peter Kelly said he was appreciative the protesters followed through on their commitment to vacate Grand Parade to allow city officials to prepare the city square for Remembrance Day events on Friday.

“We’ll be trying to repair the grass and spraying down the cenotaph,” said Mr. Kelly as he surveyed the vacant square.

He was less enthusiastic about the possibility that the protesters will return this weekend once Remembrance Day ceremonies conclude, as they have promised.

“They have to understand that this is a public square and it’s not just for one group but for everybody,” he said. “They had their time here.”

Mr. Kelly said several events have already been scheduled at the site, including the annual Christmas tree and menorah lighting, as well as New Year’s Eve celebrations.

He said police and fire officials would evaluate the situation at Victoria Park on a daily basis to ensure everyone is safe there.

The mayor said the occupation outside city hall presented some challenges with incidents involving weapons, arguments, drugs and alcohol.

“We’ve had these challenges as they’ve had all across the country,” he said. “For the most part, they have been respectful and they have been responsive.”

The City of Victoria also announced Tuesday it has been granted a hearing on Nov. 15 to apply for an injunction.

The city says the Occupy camp contravenes a bylaw and is blocking upcoming holiday events, including the installation of a public skating rink and a Christmas tree lighting in Centennial Square.

Calgary city council voted unanimously Monday night to start moving protesters out of Olympic Plaza.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said it will start with warnings, then tickets, and could involve the removal of unmanned tents. He didn’t give any timeline, but said the city council would like it to happen quickly.

The Occupy demonstrations in Canada are among dozens of protests around the world that grew out of the Occupy Wall Street movement that targets corporate greed and massive economic inequity.

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