The occupation of London’s Victoria Park is over. This may not be news to you. It was covered nationally as city officials from across the country watched closely to see how the first forced eviction of an occupation would go.
As it turns out, it went almost perfectly. After spectators had thinned out and the protesters settled in for the night, police entered the park just after midnight and along with city staff, they dismantled the tents that the owners refused to take down. It took less than two hours and no one was hurt and no one was arrested. Smooth as silk. Some protesters refused to budge so officers watched over them until 6 am when the “do not hang out in the park” bylaw expired for the day.
Later in the morning I attended a news conference at City Hall during which the Mayor and Police Chief both praised the protesters for their role in keeping things peaceful. The Mayor extended an olive branch of communication, saying he would like to work with the protesters on the issues they’ve brought forward including homelessness, poverty and unemployment.
Some of the protesters are angry, some expected something else. Some went to bed in their tents assuming police weren’t coming after all and were very upset about being roused and packed up. After reading Facebook comments and things said by former occupiers in news accounts it struck me that their expectations will never be met because, frankly, they’re not mainstream enough to understand how things work. They expected to be able to stay in the park despite the bylaw. They expected police to not show up once the “remove tents” deadline passed at 6 pm. There is a lot of whining about unmet expectations from people who don’t accept how the world works and cannot work within it to create change. That’s why their occupation didn’t catch on with the community. We may share their distaste for certain aspects of the way the world works but we can’t support their methods.