A Quick Look at Occupy Toronto

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As the third-largest financial center in North America (after New York and Chicago) Toronto was destined to be a foreign beachhead for the Occupy movement.

The Toronto protest, which began in mid-October, is headquartered in St. James Park, adjacent to the city’s Anglican cathedral and about a third of a mile east of Bay Street, Toronto’s counterpart to Wall Street. I recently spent an afternoon downtown, managing to miss the action that day, which included a morning gathering at a nearby university campus and an afternoon march in the financial district, but I did spend some time at the park, listening to the discussions, soaking up the scene and getting some photographs.

Probably anxious to avoid a repeat of their disastrous mishandling of the G20 Summit protests in 2010, the police kept their presence low-key. A group of bicycle-mounted cops passed me in the heart of the financial district, while a few others were stationed near the park but seemed to spend most of their time shooting the breeze with each other:

The weather was overcast but benign enough. Just in time for the colder days of November, the occupiers this week received three large and expensive yurts from organized labor, including the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. Things were decidedly more downscale the day I visited:

Although the sanitary arrangements seemed superior to those in some other Occupy cities:

The park’s gazebo has become a de-facto town hall:

Signs, signs, everywhere the signs. My favorite was “No hay pan para tanto chorizo”:

Despite a few older folks like me, the crowd was mostly young, in some cases so young I’m not wholly convinced they understood anything about the masks they wore or what they were there to protest, but I admired their enthusiasm and sense of fun all the same:

And Occupy Toronto, like actions in other cities, can be proud of its peaceful, communal spirit: