By Jeff Groat
On Saturday, Oct. 15, protesters will descend on the Vancouver Art Gallery for the Occupy Vancouver protest. The Vancouver protest will stand in solidarity with the initial Occupy Wall Street protests that are springing up across North America.
On Wall Street, the protest is reminiscent of the Arab Spring movement which saw citizens famously “occupy” a square in central Cairo. It’s been well-organized by politically active, social media savvy and generally disenfranchised twenty-somethings.
Organization is critical for the Occupy Wall Street protesters to accomplish anything. Like Tahrir Square, these protests are largely leaderless. The power of these protests lies in the ability to engage a generation infamous for being apolitical or apathetic and to articulate a large sense of helplessness or impotence at the hands of the older and much more influential boomers.
Whether Vancouver has the stomach for more disruption in the downtown core after last summer’s riots may be worth consideration, but the comparison is flawed. The degree of organization and commitment to peaceful demonstration from the Occupy protests stands in stark contrast to the unruly mob which rode its own high of mob-methedrine in June.
Perhaps we can interpret setting fire to police cruisers as a youthful attempt to deal with complex emotions – emotions of fear, anxiety and desperation which had been stewing since the economic meltdown in 2008, which were looking for a reason, any reason, to explode. Maybe it was just drunken brawling after a Canucks loss.
It’s easy to be cynical in the city of Vancouver. It’s entirely possible that an unorganized mob of angry Canucks fans, wherever the discontent stemmed from, could incite more public dialogue than any organized, articulate protest against the excesses of Western capitalism could.
Vancouver is a rich city for the most part. Our property values are sky-high and our livability continues to set the standard worldwide. Apart from the scar of the
Downtown Eastside, which a majority of people seem content ignoring, Vancouverites are well enough off to not be bothered with politics.
Let’s hope Occupy Vancouver can change that. Maybe with a little organization and a heavy dose of democracy – what critics call aimlessness – this protest can engage our city and bring issues that are larger than ourselves into the light. With any luck, tents will be a permanent installation at the Art Gallery.
About the Author: The Runner is owned by students and created for students. We are the premier news and culture source for students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
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