It's Day 33 of the Occupy Toronto protest in St. James Park.
The tone of the neighbourhood around the park has been changing and the tone of the park has as well. In some cases subtle changes, in some cases not-so-subtle changes.
and the circles are back meeting and discussing topics
While I haven’t experienced any personal safety issues or troubles with the occupation of the park I have been hearing first hand stories of hostility and death threats towards business owners and neighbours of the park.
I have watched the anger and hostility towards the protesters build due to fear and Occupy Toronto’s real and measurable impact on businesses around the park.
I talked with a business owner who came down to join the movement and has spent the last 24 hours in the park. He told me that he had spend $80 at local businesses while he has been here. But it took a while to convince him that businesses weren’t just blaming the occupation for the economy, but that some had measureable and attributable business losses directly due to this occupation.
Rachel was invited to talk to CBC about the general impact on business and the plans for the Friends of St James Park. [edited after Rachel's correction below]
Rachel also spoke with NewsTalk 1010 this afternoon [edited after Rachel's correction below] about the personal safety of the neighbourhood and asked a number of us for our experiences, this is how I responded:
I walk through the park most days to get lunch at the market, I usually have my cameras and take photos as I go and occasionally ask questions or talk to someone. I've never felt threatened, never had any encounter that wasn't friendly and cordial, and have only witnessed any sort of hostility twice. Both times it was verbal hostility though once it built into someone being removed from the park by what I assume was Occupy Toronto security, who I felt handled it well. Both times the hostility was between a protester and someone who seemed to be a park regular and who, I assume, is either homeless or struggling.
As usual, the Occupy Toronto situation has left me unclear on where I stand.
I can say I had hoped there would be more conversations and outreach from the Occupy Toronto community to the existing community around the park.
I can say that I feel the unrest on both sides of the argument growing, getting less civil and the argument seems to be turning into “you can’t do this to us” and “you can’t tell us what to do” rather than an over-arching political statement… or for that matter the statements of love, brotherhood and listening that are all over the signs at Occupy Toronto
I hope that this ends quietly and gently, but I worry that it won’t.
It's going to be an interesting couple of days.