Sunday, November 27, 2011

Eviction aggression in the United States potential forewarning for Canadian Movements

In recent weeks it seems that members of the “Occupy” movement have overstayed their welcomes and evictions have begun to be carried out. November 15 saw police officers evicting the resisting protestors situated in Zuccotti Park in New York City. There were some reports of arrests numbering approximately 70 and others of officers tear gassing, handcuffing, and dragging people by their hair from the site. Opinions are split about the appropriateness of these actions, the scope of the right to peaceful protest, and whether or not the occupiers should have been forced out to begin with.

The more troubling news however, has come in recent days with information about violent evictions and large-scale pepper spraying incidents. For example, on November 18th police were called to the University of California’s Davis campus, making arrests and using pepper spray in the process. The spray however, was not used to control unruly participants, but was sprayed directly in the faces of 10 to 15 participants that were sitting submissively in a row on the ground. One woman was subsequently taken to the hospital to be treated for chemical burns as a result. Videos that captured the events outraged and antagonized protestors amongst the movements. One such video can be found at the following link.

This begs the question - what will happen in Canada? Occupy movements here have already experienced evictions as well. If protestors are legally evicted and refuse to leave, should police officers be allowed to take similar action to that which was taken in California?  Will protestors and police officers alike be particularly on edge because of the memories of G20? Do protestors have the right to be on the defensive and should police officers proceed with added caution?

Posted by Melissa Crowley (Windsor Law II)

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