Ontario judge upholds Occupy Toronto evictions

Mon Nov 21, 2011 4:26pm EST
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - A Canadian judge upheld an order to evict protesters camped in a downtown Toronto park on Monday, giving the Occupy Toronto movement until midnight to vacate the park it has held for more than a month.

Ontario Superior Court Judge David Brown ruled the eviction order - issued by the city last Tuesday and challenged in court by the protesters - did not violate the demonstrators' freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

At midafternoon, protesters got more bad news when they learned their eviction would be backed by the church that co-owns the park with the city.

Protesters first set up shop in Toronto's St. James Park on October 15, following the lead of Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York's Zuccotti Park.

The Zuccotti Park protesters were forcibly evicted last week and it was unclear whether their Toronto compatriots would suffer the same fate.

A few hundred protesters remained in the park at midafternoon, but the number of tents had clearly declined in the past week.

The protest has drawn criticism for the toll it has taken on the park and surrounding neighborhood, and after five weeks the space is indeed showing signs of fatigue, with patches of bare ground where grass was once abundant, and pieces of cardboard and other refuse scattered among the fallen leaves.

Organizers had held out hope that St. James Cathedral, which sits next to the park and is co-title holder of the space along with the city of Toronto, would provide sanctuary for protesters evicted by the city.   Continued...