By Kate Hermelin and Wotjek Dabrowski
Protesters plot Bay Street havoc and prep for pepper spray; on-campus tactics to be peaceful.
A slow, snaking march of hundreds of protesters will try to shut down the city’s financial district on Oct. 16 as the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty demonstrates against the provincial government’s policies.
Although few Ryerson students are joining the march, RyeSAC is setting up a “green zone” at Devonian Lake, where those who don’t want to risk being arrested can go for updates and information on the protest, said Alex Lisman, RyeSAC’s v.p. education.
CKLN 88.1 FM, Ryerson’s radio station, will broadcast up-to-the-minute reports on the snake march, which aims to shut down traffic in Canada’s financial heart on Bay Street.
Community groups working on a variety of causes, from housing to education, will also be on campus with information tables throughout most of the day.
Some of the country’s largest banks, brokerage houses and the Toronto Stock Exchange are headquarters along the proposed route of the protest.
OCAP has been planning the action for nearly a year. Last Saturday, a related group held a series of legal, medical and direct-action workshops reminiscent of the seminars organized by protesters before the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City last April.
Lisman said the Ontario Common Front workshops focused on instructing world-be protesters on their legal rights and their risks they may face during the protest.
RyeSAC is a member of the OCF, an umbrella group of organizations which back the campaign to challenge Ontario Premier Mike Harris’s government.
Lisman was blunt about safety concerns, saying it’s likely that people will be arrested. He said Saturday’s medical workshop focused on dealing with pepper spray – although he doesn’t anticipate that tear gas will be used.
“The aim of disrupting the business day is a way of showing that the people in Ontario who opposed the Mike Harris government want to be heard,” said OCAP organizer Stefan Pilipa. “This is being done instead of marching in front of empty buildings or singing songs in front of (the Ontario Legislature).”