Occupy Toronto at St. James Park draws thousands of protesters
As the Occupy Together movements happen all around the world, thousands of Occupy Toronto protesters met at the intersection of King St. and Bay St., the city’s financial district, before marching to St. James Park.
Protesters came together at 10 a.m., with no collective list of demands, and no leadership to guide them. With different agendas, ranging from economic equality to Palestinian statehood, they held signs and banners stating their different causes.
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae came by at St. James Park where the protesters set up, and said he was there to listen to the protesters.
“I do think there is a concern about the gap between the rich and poor,” said Rae, “It’s very real ... There is a greater concentration of world wealth today than at any time since the second world war,” he said.
According to Rae, opportunities are not being adequately shared, and governments are having a harder and harder time responding to the needs of its people.
“What has happened is that we have a monetary system that is basically operating as a giant ponzi scheme,” said Jon Allan, an administrator of the Occupy Canada Facebook group.
“Canada’s economy is inextricably linked with the United States - 70 percent of our trade is with the US,” he said, referring to the fractional reserve banking system of the United States.
One participant came to the protests sporting a clown costume and a burning police car made of cardboard attached to her hips.
She said that she was protesting for children, which was represented by her clown gear, and the burning police car represents the G20 riots.
Toronto Police officers were present at the protest to “make sure everybody’s safe,” according to Inspector Howie Page, who said that the protest is not going to be a repeat of the G20 riots. Police officers were stationed around the area, but kept a good distance from the crowd.
“So far so good,” said officer Kevin Suddes, “we’re here to open up the lanes, so people can express their opinions and have a good time.”
The Occupy Toronto protest is motivated by the Occupy Wall St. movement in New York, which began on Sept. 17, in Manhattan’s financial district. Since then, the movement has spread to over 100 cities in the Unites States, and over 1,500 cities globally.
While in Canada, Occupy movements are happening in many cities, including Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver. The protests have no defined end date, and many people will be sleeping in tents at the site.