Occupy Toronto protesters granted stay of eviction
Occupy Toronto protesters were granted a stay of eviction on Tuesday evening, hours after city bylaw officers issued notices to oust the movement from a downtown park.
The court order was granted with a condition that no one else is permitted to show up at St. James Park or any new structures be erected on the site. The judge also warned the protesters that if more activists show up it may violate the order.
On Friday, a court hearing will be held for a judge to hear arguments on whether or not the protest can continue in the park. A decision is expected by 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Earlier on Tuesday, a large group of protesters remained in the makeshift encampment even as City Hall warned that anyone who did not clear out immediately would be in violation of city trespassing laws.
Occupy protester Kevin Konnyu told CTV News that the group had received confirmation from the police that they would not be coming in to clear the park on Tuesday night.
"It feels like a victory," he said. "But they're still trying to shut down this peaceful assembly."
Konnyu said that negotiations will continue on Wednesday morning.
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday told reporters earlier on Tuesday that he hopes the protest remains peaceful and that City staff is working towards that end.
"We are still hoping that the majority of people will leave and that there will not be any violence down there and that there won't be any arrests. I know that is a pretty tall order," he said.
Eviction notices posted around the park state that residents are prohibited from building and maintaining tents or shelters and gathering in the park between midnight at 5 a.m.
The City had said that all tents needed to be removed from the park immediately and that they would take it upon themselves to remove the debris if protesters did not comply with the order.
Occupy Toronto protesters accepted the notices without violence, but some set the paper on fire, tore it up or turned them into paper airplanes.
A large gathering was held at the St. James Church Tuesday afternoon to discuss the future of the occupation.
CTV Toronto's John Musselman was in attendance and said that most in the crowd appeared determined to stay in the park.
He said some protesters suggested building a human wall around the park, while others suggested other forms of peaceful resistance.
In a message sent from its Twitter account, Occupy Toronto called on supporters to come to St. James Park after the eviction notice was served.
A handful of Toronto police accompanied bylaw officers as they entered the park shortly before 11 a.m., pinning eviction notices onto the tents being used as a makeshift community.
"If you do not immediately remove any and all tents, shelters, structure, equipment and debris from St. James Park, such tents, shelters, structures, equipment and debris shall be removed from St. James Park by or on behalf of the City of Toronto," the notices read.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was unavailable for comment on Tuesday, but his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, said the time was right to ask protesters to leave.
"I think it is time to move on. We believe that if they want to protest peacefully, which they have, there is a time that they have to move on. It is time now that they move on," Ford told CTV Toronto.
Coun. Norm Kelly told reporters on Tuesday that the eviction notice was issued on Tuesday to give city crews enough time to repair the damage that had been done to the park before winter.
The mayor suggested last week that businesses and residents of the area want him to dismantle the camp and that they've "had enough" of the protest. The mayor also said that the occupants had made a point and it was time to leave.
The move also comes amid threats purportedly made by a group of Internet vigilantes suggesting they would declare cyber war on the City if it took action against the Occupy Toronto protesters.
In the 90-second video claiming to be from Anonymous, the hacking group said it was prepared to "remove" Toronto from the Internet if Ford took any action to end the downtown occupation.
On Tuesday morning, two people were arrested when a group of about 50 protesters marched through Toronto to a Bay Street office tower to voice their anger after members of the Occupy movement were forced out of a park in New York City.