Six In The Morning:Baby It’s Cold Outside

1 WINTER EH? Despite the pseudo-convincing melt in Regina over the last couple days (I even saw green grass), residents can expect snow and temperatures in the minus twenties over the weekend.

2 UNOCCUPIED Police dismantled the last remnants of the Occupy Regina movement early this morning, primarily in the form of empty tents (like I said, its cold out there).

3 EYES TO CHINA? Though China has often been perceived as a threat to the American economy, the attention has adopted a militaristic character as Obama and Australian PM Julia Gillard enter discussions seeking an ongoing American military presence in Australia.

4 SCARE IN WASHINGTON! After gunshots were fired at the White House last week, the search for an exceptionally harmless looking 21 year old suspect continues (though I could have sworn this was their specialty?)

5 PATERNITY TEST NEGATIVE We can all sleep at night knowing that Canadian superstar Justin Bieber’s paternity test has proven recent allegations to be untrue. And YES, this counts as news these days.

6 FEEL GOOD CONTRIBUTION Okay, its cold, but we can at least warm our hearts with this one: Tinashe-Zambezi

Octopi Regina – Day 33? – Arrest Update

The Regina Police Service issued a press release with the following:
“Seven adults, five males and two females, have been issued summons under the Regina Parks and Open Space Bylaw 2004-27, for remaining in a park between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. The individuals who received tickets were in Victoria Park at the site of the Occupy Regina protest. One of the seven was arrested on a breach unrelated to the bylaw offence.”

Of the one who was arrested, “Officers observed that one of the persons, a 46 year-old male, was intoxicated. Further investigation revealed that this person was on a recognizance which included the condition of abstaining from alcohol. The male was taken into custody without incident and charged with the breach of a court-ordered condition.”

This video is courtesy of Saskboy:

Octopi Regina – Day 32 The End?

Shortly before midnight, Regina’s finest rolled into the park to evict Occupy Regina. I wasn’t there as I was home snuggled up in a warm blanket catching up on Dexter and The Walking Dead. I culled the news from Facebook because, afterall, The Revolution Will Not Be Broadcast, it will be status updated. There were six tickets issued and one arrest. No mention was made of who the martyr was or why he was arrested. Saskatoon got evicted today too.

For some odd reason this song popped up in me poor little brain. I dedicate it to you Octopi Regina:

Octopi Regina – Day 29 Day Of…

THE CITY OF REGINA HEREBY DEMANDS AND ORDERS that you comply with The Parks and Open Space Bylaw, 2004 b:

1. Ceasing to enter or remain in a City park between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.;

2. Removing any tents, shelters, pallets, tarps, canopies, encroachments or amenities or any such other device from any City park and not re-establishing same; and

3. Ceasing to leave or store personal property in any City park.
COMPLIANCE MUST BE ACHIEVED BY: Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 8:00 a.m.

IF YOU FAIL TO COMPLY WITH THIS DEMAND AND ORDER the city may pursue any and all remedies to it at law including civil or criminal action for trespass to property and non-compliance with City law.
Sincerely, Glen B. Davies, City Manager, City of Regina

I was twenty minutes late and as I was rounding the corner onto Scarth I was half-expecting chaos, a swarm of police, tents thrown into woodchippers, angry shouts of people dragged away into paddy wagons, marines, helicopters, tanks rolling through the plaza.

But no. It was all so anti-climactic. The media left disappointed. I waited in the coffee shop across the street and waited for some kind of action. If it was eviction day, someone forgot to tell the police.

Just wait. When you least expect it.

Octopi Regina – Day 27 The Morning Edition Late

Back in the 80’s a joke circulated amongst the First Nations people and I’ll try to remember how it goes:

Indigenous people from all over the world travelled to The Vatican to protest conditions in their country: racism, poverty, genocide, etc. They setup their camps, tents, teepees, wooden huts and burned camp fires and exchanged stories. One day the Pope came out, stood out and made the sign of the cross. The Indigenous people rejoiced “The Pope has blessed us!” This happened the next day and the next day after that.

Finally, the Pope came out and stated in a very loud voice: “I wasn’t making the sign of the cross. I was trying to tell you. Take the tents down and get the fuck out!”

I was still sipping my coffee, eating a fresh home-made bun, unwrapping the sleep from my eyes when I received word that a press conference was to be held at City Hall at 10:45 a.m. (Who the hell gets up at that ungodly hour? Oh yeah, non-writers and non-artists)

Glen B. Davies, City Manager for the City of Regina, gave Occupy Regina their marching orders. Lines have been drawn, deadlines to be met, tents to be taken down by voluntary initiative Saturday Morning 8 a.m.

It’s showdown time! If the short history of the Occupy Movement across Canada is any kind of social barometer then it’s not going to be an easy fluid tear down. Most evictions have met with physical resistance, some with down right violence. There are no easy answers and I don’t think anyone is looking for any. It’s time to take the tents down and get the fuck out now.

It was only a matter of time. Occupy Regina vowed to stand strong. Some of packed their bags. Some have adopted a wait and see attitude. Some have vowed to stand strong.

Octopi Regina: Day 27 Teach-In

I didn’t see you, yeah you, at the Occupy Regina Teach-In at the Ad-Hum building at the U of R today. Here’s the video they hoped everyone would see:

Bridging the Gap – Regina Landlords and Renters on Social Assistance from Riley Moynes – Living Sky Media on Vimeo.

“Bridging the Gap” is a brief documentary video, researched by local non-profit Carmichael Outreach and produced by Living Sky Media that discusses the housing crisis in Regina and explores the relationship between Regina landlords and renters on social assistance. This video is the outcome of a community-based research project supported by the Community Research Unit at the University of Regina. Everyone is encouraged to come out and participate in this community/campus event.

And yet another video that left not a dry seat in the house:

Octopi Regina – Day 26 Occupy City Hall

What would McGyver do if he lacked a megaphone and needed to get the word out? Why he would hire Garrett Morris, President of the New York City School for the Hard of Hearing to help him. That’s exactly what Occupy Regina did in the City Hall plaza to reach out to the cold huddled masses. They formed a chain of Garrett Morris’s by shouting out the speech as it was spoken.

Jim Elliot spoke first and most of what he said was echoed by the other speakers. Suffice to say they asked not to be evicted, asked for the safe return of their portable toilet, and the need for electrical power.

Jim began by quoting the Mayor of Calgary who had stated yesterday, “My hands are tied. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms which backstops political expression, supersedes the bylaw infraction that prohibits camping and erecting tents in public parks.”

This sentiment was also echoed throughout  the afternoon and is being used as a precedent and example of why Occupy Regina should still be allowed to stay their eviction. Who woulda thunk words of wisdom would migrate east from Calgary?

“You cannot evict an idea. The Occupy Regina movement and this movement goes beyond the city park. It is in the hearts and minds of people who are suffering everywhere and around the world. We will not stop and nor will we bend. We will continue this movement for as long as people suffer…” promised activist Ras Munyaga.

After a few more emotional speakers they all marched indoors to present their permit to Mayor Pat Fiacco directly. Scrawled on the top border of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom were, “We are not Camping” and on the bottom border, “This is our permit” emblazoned in scarlet.

The Human Megaphone was stymied at the door by security guards. Canadians are so polite. “We’re willing to wait for him”. “How do we get to see him?” “Is he coming down?”

They all signed their names to their “permit” and hunkered down for the long haul for an audience with The Mayor.

I left as they were ordering pizza. Save me a slice.

Octopi Regina – Day 25 Don’t Look Now But…

Now that City Hall has taken away Occupy Regina’s potty privileges by confiscating their port-potty for lack of permit what are the turtling and the clenched to do? Where to shake the dew off the lilly?

When the potty was hauled away, – it was a shot across the bow in a game of you sank my battleship – they immediately mobilized forces with the speed and exactitude of The People’s Front of Judea. A quick camp meeting on Tuesday was organized to discuss the problem. A petition was created, a press release hastily written and discussed, and a rally scheduled for a high-stakes crap shoot at high noon on Wednesday.

Occupy Regina even showed up for the Tuesday night City Hall public meeting hoping against hope to speak their case but, alas, not to happen. They were too late to get on the agenda, (by 5 days! What timing), and none of the councilors broached the subject which would have allowed the protestors to plead their case.

In a seemingly coordinated effort across Canada, many other Occupy Tent Cities have been given the eviction notice: Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, London Ontario, including Regina.

The impetus seems to have been the overdose death of a young woman in Vancouver.  That Vancouver has taken a stand to force the protestors out has given the other mayors courage to draw up their own eviction notices. They are using the age-old excuse that it is for their own good, for their safety and well-being.

No good will come of this.

The irony is that people die of drug overdoses every day. As long as it occurs in a dank dark back alley they can be swept under the pavement. Never mind that poverty undermines the safety and well-being of the poor every day. Where is the concern then?

There is none, they just want them out of their eyesight. Minimum Visual Impact after all.

Octopi Regina – Day 24 What The Deuce?

Events were unfolding rather fast today at Occupy Regina.

First, Bylaw Enforcement threw a wild deuce in the pot by taking away the porta-potty graciously donated last week to allow for the eliminative body functions that we, the housed, take for granted. On the one hand, city officials don’t want them installing grunt sculptures in the bushes, and on the other hand, they are no longer allowed to bust nug nugs in a safe clean porta-potty.

Of course, The City knows they can’t have it both ways. This is just the first kerplunk, a passive-aggressive attempt to flush them out of the park.

And then by the time I got home and sat down at the computer I found out via Occupy Regina FB page that “Bylaw officers from the City of Regina have unofficially requested that the Occupy Regina camp be shut down under threat of enforcement of unconstitutional bylaws.”

Pant, pant, I can’t keep up to the Occupy Digerati. They have already created an online petition and are organizing meetings, 2 p.m. and 5:30 Tuesday, and a City Hall Rally on Wednesday at high noon.

Is this the week it all comes to a head?

Octopi Regina – Day 23 Snow Day

This morning I celebrated the new snow by making hot fluffy buttermilk pancakes from scratch then I shoveled the sidewalk.

I’m wearing a thick warm sweater, there’s a chicken roasting in the oven with potatoes and carrots. I haven’t made the rich tasty gravy yet but I will shortly. I’m watching Star Wars, yet again, so the gravy can wait. Han Solo is saving Luke’s life by slicing open a Tauntaun, “…and I thought he smelled bad on the outside”.

I immediately think of Occupy Regina. Last week they vowed to endure the winter for the cause. One girl even claimed they would make igloos. I doubt they know how so I have included a Youtube tutorial on the subject. Just in case.

Consider it my metaphorical slicing of a Tauntaun for them.

Or perhaps I’m too late? Have they packed it in for the season? How many of them retreated to their homes last night? How many stuck it out? Really, stuck it out? I reckon only the homeless had no choice. I’m not about to go downtown and ask them. It’s too cold to go anywhere.

Remember: Use hard packed snow. Wet snow only works for snowmen.

Check Us Out

Is it time to Occupy the Library? (I’m sorry. I’m getting tired of the Occupied Cliché too)

The wonderful beautiful employees of the Regina Public Library, members of CUPE 1594 have created their own blog to promote awareness of their own struggles against The Library Board.

I’m going to unashamedly cut and paste this directly from their site:

The RPL Board’s Proposals

The Library Board wants to remove the “permanent” status from many part-time employees. Even though some of these employees have more than 25 years of service, the Library Board wants to change their status to spare board (casual) employees. As casual employees, they only would be considered for lateral vacancies or promotions if permanent employees did not qualify.

Our Library Board is proposing that part-time members shall be scheduled on an as need basis or call in basis without a guarantee of hours.

Our Library Board is proposing that our members work for lower wages on Sunday than we are currently paid.

Our Library Board is proposing that over 40 per cent of our part-time members, some who have worked for the library for more than 20 years should no longer receive the Dental Benefits they have always received, or the health care benefits they currently receive.

Our Library Board is proposing that they establish new jobs or re-classify jobs in a way that is contrary to the legal agreement currently in place – an agreement members went on strike to achieve nearly 10 years ago.

I haven’t had a chance to talk to anyone yet from either side because I’ve only just found the site but I’ll get to that later on this week. In the meantime, go to their site and see how you can lend your support: Check Us Out

Octopi Regina, Day 14: Joe Keithley

One of the things I liked best about the punk movement — I’m speaking about the first wave of punk and the second wave of hardcore punk — was their strict DIY attitude and political/social activism. They had an honest, heartfelt, passionate rage. Anything after that period was all affectation, political posturing, rich urban kids purchasing designer clothes that looked punk-ish.

Joe Keithley of DOA was of the second-wave punks and is considered one of the founders of West Coast Hardcore Punk. His political stance as it is now was genuine. He raged against racism, sexism, war, the globalization of corporate capitalization among other things; some of those same issues that the Occupy Movement are dealing with today. He was ahead of the curve.

I tried recording the whole event but my equipment crapped out in the frigid temperatures of Victoria Square Park, the coldest spot in Regina. Even my brilliant interview was lost to the cold. Suffice to say that his words were of encouragement to keep on fighting the good fight, of congratulations for sticking it out in the cold, and a call-for-arms to others to join the cause.

He stuck it out for four quick songs, quipped about the brevity of punk songs, how punks didn’t need extended intros or solos and just got to the rock n roll gist. Yup, the glory days 2 minute blitzkrieg bop (his Ramones influence).

One thing pissed me off though. There was a group of assholes standing less than five feet away from him having a very loud conversation, as Keithley strived to be heard, they only talked louder. What the hell was that all about?

UPDATE: Whitworth here. Thanks to Dog Blog commentator Daniel Johnson for a link to a YouTube vid on the show. I’m embedding it below. There’ll be more from Charles on Occupy Regina in Thursday’s paper.

Octopi Regina – Day 13-14 Night Life

Walking into the Occupy Regina camp last night was like walking onto a Jerry Springer set without the flying chairs and ripped clothing. Hostility was high with charges of racism and lies; nostrils flared, the F-bomb liberally lobbed about, people shouting over each other. It’s no wonder why they have these meetings at night time when the general public is safely hunkered down in from of their Netflix with popcorn bowl in lap.

I was pondering if I should report this, whether this would hurt their movement. But why not? It’s as real as anything. Maybe they can get a mediator or an Elder to consult in times of miscommunication.

Also, flared nostrils are the natural progression of group dynamics. The first phase was the honeymoon, a time for love and getting to know each other. The next is the chaos phase in which the politeness barrier is let down for heated passionate discussion. After that is the make-up sex phase. I’m certain there is a more appropriate psychological term for it but we all look forward to make-up sex.

And finally here is my Jerry Springer end-of-show insightful speech:

This is to be expected from any large group that is knit from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. The irony is that anyone who has ever worked in a corporate environment has had to take workshops in group dynamics. If they want to accomplish anything they have to learn to understand each other.

May they can bond over the sweet lyrical voice of Joe Keithley aka “Joey Shithead” tonight at 5:30 who will be playing a very short set before heading off to his real gig later on tonight.

Quote of the day: “Who the fuck is Joe Keithley? I’ve never heard of him” said by someone born in the 90’s.

Octopi Regina – Day 5 Sound Off

What is the Occupy movement all about? Joe Flaherty would have you believe we have no reasons to protest, that all is ok in Canada. The Occupy movement does seem incoherent and without consensus but is it really all about a single point issue? Do Canadians really need a hook to hang their hat on?

Walking into the tiny camp and inviting myself into the conversations, I realize it’s not about a single issue at all, it’s about creating political dialogue when politicians want you to feel complacent, it’s about… well, I’ll let the people do the talking… passersby and the unhappy campers:

Mr. Wikman (passerby): “I’m a senior. My wife and I don’t make enough to pay income tax. They say we’ll give you income tax breaks. What good are they? They talk about how we are prospering. The increase in my house insurance is more than the increase in my pension. So where am I benefitting as a senior? The little guy has to stand up against the big cat.”

Cloudsley (passerby): “One of the things I was going to say about this. This isn’t just about the poor per se. This is also about the middle class in that wages haven’t gone up in proportion to the cost of living. A house in the 1970’s, you could buy a house here in Regina for 20-25 grand and the average family income in the 1970’s was about 30 grand. Today the average family income in Saskatchewan is 35 grand. The house costs 350 thousand dollars. I mean it’s insane the way things have changed and the way wealth has concentrated itself into the hands of a tiny percentage of the population. The wages and the populace haven’t really gained from the economic boom that we’ve had in the last 30 years… I’ve got a good job. I make a good salary, I make above average income in Saskatchewan but I can’t afford a house here.”

Peter Seel (Unhappy Camper): “We are putting out that it’s 99% against the 1%, the people (walking by) are realizing that it’s not just a bunch of bums on the street. It’s not like we are just there for a place to stay. They actually see what we are trying to. Since it is 99% of the world there are so many with us. There are people with good jobs who are staying here. Half of the people in the park have jobs or school. We are putting a lot of awareness out and people are responding well.”

So far the City of Regina has allowed the protesters to stay in Victoria Park but why make martyrs of them when the impending winter cold will drive them out soon enough? Will their strong convictions withstand a Saskatchewan winter? Especially the way the wind rips through the corridors of downtown buildings? We shall see.

Octopi Regina – Day 2 In Tent City

They must have eaten all the bannock. I didn’t see a slab in sight. But then it’s all about me isn’t it?

I lived in a tent city on the front lawn of The Vancouver Art Gallery back in the 90’s. My friend Paul helped me set up my tent as I excitedly got to know the rest of the campers. We were prepared to save the world. I think it was an environmental protest of some kind. I can’t remember. I was only excited to live in a tent in the middle of the city, rent free, and hit on the eco-feminists.

These folks seem to have less selfish motives.

I did a quick drive-by glance to see if, indeed, there was a tent occupation. I found 20 plus campers and supporters with 7 tents and pile of Tim Horton’s goodies. I asked around to see if anyone wanted to talk to The Prairie Dog. Young Piper Stretten, 11 from Arcola School agreed to a quick interview:

You camped overnight? “I did.”

What are you protesting? “The 99% and what is going on right now. And the whole conflict with the Government of Canada and practically the world’s governments are in a clash of money and everything. And our economy isn’t working out that well. But it’s just a start, yeah.”

How long do you plan on camping out? Don’t you have school tomorrow? “Yeah so I can’t really camp out. I camped out yesterday. It was fun. It was a good experience to camp out in the in the middle of the city downtown. And yeah, there was a lot of people here last night. It kind of died down when the rain happened in the afternoon. We are expecting more people tonight. Yeah, we are waiting for the best to happen. Everybody’s been asking when are we going to take down the tents. We are saying when the conflicts stop. If we have to stay here for the rest of our lives then we will.”

It’ll be interesting to see how long they will be allowed to occupy Regina. How long before the good-looking sweet-smelling office workers find them an eyesore? Or will they drop off more doughnuts for the cause?

Octopi Regina

Wait a minute, there’s no Octopi! Oh…Occupy Regina. I get it.

The very loosely organized Occupy Regina demonstration was laid back in a Manana kind of way. Mellow. Cohesion is the enemy of anarchy but even the anarchic need to get organized to be effective. This demonstration could have used more angry witty signs, a sweet sound system or at least a rancorous screechy megaphone. It was difficult trying to listen to the speakers shout over the coffee-housing crowd, the windy rustle of autumn leaves, and hushers hushing other hushers.

Heck, even Regina’s Finest deigned to mobilize their bike squad (affectionately known as Team Horton) to check out the proceedings. Heck, there was more media than police presence.

Speakers took turns talking about homelessness, the ever widening disparity between the rich and the poor, unions, work, farms, aboriginal issues. I didn’t hear anybody mention Wall Street though. Maybe I missed that part.

One young man, whose name I recorded but was lost in the babble of the crowd, was/is trying to organize a tent-in and called for a meeting of like-minded folks. At the moment he only had three people interested.

“There are people who offered to bring tents and foods. We already had someone show up with bannock. I think we can take care of each other better than the government can. We’re going to have fun while we speak out about all the evil we see,” He said.

I’m all for a tent-city in downtown Regina. I told him so. “But with only three people it’s so much easier to get arrested,” He lamented.

I reckon that’s the risk you have to take if you want to be a grass roots activist.

Trust me on this. I’m an Indian.