Occupied Ottawa demonstrators resumed marching through the downtown streets Saturday, but it’s unclear if they’ll be occupying a park — this time, the Garden of the Provinces and Territories — again.
“We’ll be interested in staying, but at the end of the day, we are, and always have been, a peaceful movement. So if the police ask us to leave, we’re not going to resist that,” said Hugh Goldring, one of the organizers.
“In the longer term, you can certainly expect (to see us) organizing around austerity issues, resisting the government’s austerity agenda, conducting direct actions, participating in protests and rallies, and, you know, the usual fun activist stuff.”
At 3 p.m. about 50 people — part of a group formerly known as Occupy Ottawa — began the procession from the Human Rights Monument on Elgin St. at Lisgar St., making their way along Sparks St.
They ended up at the Garden, a small park near Wellington St. and Bay St., steps from St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.
About 25 Ottawa cops were on the ground, and RCMP officers were also present.
“It was a peaceful demonstration,” Ottawa police Staff Sgt. Jim Devine said from the scene shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday.
“They didn’t occupy the park, in the sense of the word. They sat and had a sit-in in the park. There were no incidents.”
Last weekend, the group announced a comeback.
The movement was spearheaded in September in New York City with Occupy Wall Street, rallying against the gap between what it considers the rich 1% and everyone else.
Demonstrators were booted from Confederation Park — which is owned by the National Capital Commission — by Ottawa police in November.
Demonstrator Miranda, 22, who wouldn’t give her last name, said she was arrested during the previous eviction, and had doubts about the reoccupation process.
“I made a lot of friends here and I believe that what they’re attempting to do is, you know, they have good intentions,” she said.
“They’d like to open discussions about different issues, which affect the world, Canada, our city.”
Many were under the impression the Garden is city-owned, meaning it closes at 11 p.m. Devine said the Garden is NCC property.
“In the NCC parks, there’s actually no time limit as there is in city parks,” said Devine, adding he wasn’t sure how long cops would be on the scene.
“We’re going to monitor them ’til that time and then a judgment call will be made as to whether or not we continue or not, based on their numbers at that time.”