Occupy Vancouver Occupies Brookfield

Reposted from Occupy Vancouver Media, authored by Stephen Collis, 
originally published on: 26 February 2012
Most of us know the story by now: Brookfield Asset Management – a vast global corporation which owns property all over the world, including OWS’s Liberty Square (Zuccotti Park) – also owns Island Timberlands, a BC company about to log some of the last 1% of old growth Douglas Fir forest on isolated Cortes Island. Conveniently, Brookfield has a downtown Vancouver office in Bental Centre No. 5 (550 Burrard Street), where members of Occupy Vancouver encamped for 24rs, beginning just after noon on Saturday February 25.

It was cold. It was windy. There were just about as many VPD officers as occupiers (that might be a good sign, in some ways, indicating that we still cause considerable alarm). Here’s a nice juxtaposition: cops and cash:

Indeed, the police notified us fairly quickly that the property we were on was private (another one of these typical signs of neoliberal urbanism: a “park,” complete with green space and benches, that is “private”), that the owner would not allow any “structures” (i.e., tents) to be set up, and that the police would “enforce” the owner’s wishes. Here’s the building’s “representatives” telling us to get lost:

Note the cop’s camera too: just about every moment was filmed by the VPD, as usual. They must have quite a nice archive of our every move now. But I always find myself wondering about the “if a tree falls in the forest” paradox: if the cops weren’t there, would we have done anything differently? That is, does the protest happen if it’s not watched by the cops? In many ways these smaller actions seem to be just about this: whose side are you on boys? There’s a testing of endurance, of focus and attention, between the state and its dissidents, a scuffing up of the sides of democracy to see if it shines still, or if we can see our proletarian faces reflected in its surface. We know the answers to the questions we’re asking here (yes it is a police state, however softly enforced for now; yes private property rights do trump all other rights; yes the corporate world will indeed wring each last drop of profit out of even the smallest and seemingly out of the way corners of its “assets”). But we go on, testing, learning – I hope always readying ourselves for more significant contests. With each demonstration we get a little more comfortable with taking action in public, with challenging the limitations of the “public sphere” and the rigidity of the state that seems to have one and only one function now: enclosing the public sphere to make it safe for capital accumulation.

So we had speeches:

Food not Bombs came and fed us:

And – in the spirit of occupying – we held the space:

We’re keeping the motor running. Keeping the pressure on. This movement has to be about endurance, about the long haul and the big picture. It’s still early in the game, and we’re still really just catching our breathes from the initial push. There’s much more to come, much more work to do, and we are getting in movement-making shape.

The issue of Brookfield’s potential logging on Cortes Island is crucial because it’s such a perfect example of what we are fighting against: a system that will recognize no limits, and for which nothing is ever enough (or as my brother once said, “there’s no end to more”). Only 1% of this ecosystem left? A drop of water in the corporate profit sea? Who cares – cut it down. The imperative is: always profits, always growth, always more. No other values – be they democratic or ecological – can counter this one value of growth at any cost. It is the worst kind of ignorance and willful blindness. And it is an assault on the planet and an assault on future generations. We must keep up the fight.

– Stephen Collis


Categories: Activism, Commons


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