|Canada, Ottawa, 7 Year Squat Evicted by Riot Police|
At around 2am Wednesday morning, police vans were accumulating. OC Transpo (transit) buses dropped off hundreds of cops to secure the surrounding area stretching several blocks.
Some were in riot-gear, others were in friendly dark-blue. They were equipped with tear gas, pepper spray, dogs, guns, machine guns, at least four fire trucks, a command station, and a back-up command station.
Cops proceeded to ask the occupants to leave, after which they declared the entire block a crime scene. Anyone who refused to leave would be arrested for interference with a police operation. This included the private property across the street belonging to PSAC. Legal observers, and media (independent, public, and corporate) had been given permission by PSAC to use this property to observe from. Cops cleared all witnesses to be out of sight of the house, including front, back and side.
The first to be arrested were the organizers. They were carried-off in a city bus marked "Special". The entire operation lasted well into morning rush hour. Fire truck ladders were used smash through barricaded top floor windows, through which riot cops entered, and brought out the arrested occupants.
It is unknown why the operation took over six hours. The house had about 12 occupants, all passive and unarmed. One of the arrested walking hand-cuffed down the ladder shouted "they (the police) beat us up!" Another shouted "We will never forget this day!" Most of the arrested showed signs of being pepper-sprayed, and some appeared to be brutalized.
Observers, media, and supporters gathered on Metcalfe street to watch the ugly spectacle. Supporters tried to converse with police, but the cops remained smugly silent. Despite repeated requests for information form media and legal observers, police refused to release any information.
City councilors were notified, including the mayor who was called at around 2am and 4am.
The abandoned house was reclaimed by the community during the anti-G8 Take the Capital demonstrations. The property was brought back to life by the occupants, along with the wider supportive community created over the short period of one week.
Meetings were held regularly to make decisions amongst the residents, based on consensus minus one. Improvements included painting, repairs to infrastructure and plumbing, a vegetable garden, and much cleaning. Plans included providing free space for public meetings, something which is scarce in Ottawa.
Donations of food, supplies, and art was contributed by the community in Ottawa. The Ottawa Police even donated a bag of hacky-sacks! Many curious passer-by's were informed on the issues, with literature hand-outs, as well as conversations.
Now, the house looks like a war-zone. What was once a thriving community space has been reduced to what it was one week ago, an abandoned mess waiting to be torn down. The dreams of the occupants have been shattered, and hopes for a community space have been trampled on.
TAKE THE CAPITAL!
Ottawa Actions Against the G8
June 26-27, 2002
Take the Capital! <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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