Toronto city workers, backed by more than 100 police officers, began removing structures set up by Occupy Toronto protesters in a downtown park in an operation that was met with little resistance.
“Once all structures have been removed and the park has been rendered safe, St. James Park will be reopened to the public and you will be free to continue to exercise your right to free speech,” a policeman announced to a small crowd that had gathered.
A handful of vocal protesters occupying a gazebo in the park shouted "Whose park? Our park’’ as the workers cleared the shelters. Dozens of other demonstrators stood by, some chanting, jeering police, banging drums or handing out flowers.
The police action follows a court ruling this week that Toronto had the authority to evict the protesters who moved into the park Oct. 15 to protest the financial system and income inequality. Police in New York, where the Occupy Wall Street movement began, cleared out protesters’ shelters in the city’s Zuccotti Park last week, citing health and sanitation concerns.
Toronto police arrived in buses at about 5:30 a.m. and began moving into the park just east of the city’s financial center about an hour later. City workers started to remove tents as well as more substantial plywood shelters with axes as protesters stayed largely quiet in the muddy park after a night of heavy rain.
Police in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, also began dismantling tents belonging to protesters this morning, CP24 reported today.
The protesters and tents were gone from the Ottawa site as of 9 a.m. and city workers were cleaning up the park amid the first snowfall of the year. Eight people were arrested earlier in the morning under the Trespass to Property Act, CBC News reported.