Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Occupy Toronto and the Old Rebel
I visited the Occupy Toronto campsite on my way back from work today, and it was a sad and desolate sight. Exhausted street kids tearing down their tents, as an icy wind blew the dead leaves around them.
The demolished kitchen that once fed hundreds of people a day, now only feeding the sparrows.
Replaced by an Occupy Cafe doling out soup to the desperately hungry.
One month and one week after it began, the occupation is winding down.
The humble occupiers driven from the camp, by the complaints of some neighbours, the howl of angry old people, and the rabid words of the corporate media. Like these.
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.
Brought to you by the same people who endorsed Stephen Harper's Cons in the last election. And just as outrageous.
For the camp was a peaceful place, most of the occupiers were some of the most decent people you could ever hope to meet.
A Porter Airlines pilot who supports the protest helped the campers fold sleeping bags and sheets at the site yesterday.
“I agree with these people that our democracy is for sale,” said the pilot, who wore a Porter uniform but declined to give a name. “When you can fill a park with homeless people, in what is supposed to be a civilized country, something is wrong.”
And most of them are only guilty of daring to believe in a better world.
Just like this old rebel did.
Robert Fleming Gourlay, who once wrote this:
“It is the system that blasts every hope of good; and till the system is overturned, it is vain to expect anything of value from change of Representatives or Governors.”
And was forced out of the country by the reactionary Family Compact that ruled Upper Canada. Throughout the occupation his statue stared at the gazebo where the General Assembly meetings were held. If that old rebel's spirit was in that park it must have been smiling.
And so am I eh? For I'd rather be a cheerful rebel than a miserable slave in Harper's Canada. And as I wrote the other night, this is not the beginning of the end. It's just the end of the beginning.
The camps are coming down. But the best is still to come.
The ghastly old Con mob can howl. A cold wind can blow.
But you can't evict an idea, or stop a movement, whose time has finally come....
h/t Thwap's Schoolyard