Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Editorial: This is what a dictatorship looks like

Early this morning around 5 a.m., Occupy Fredericton was dismantled by City of Fredericton staff while Mayor Brad Woodside looked on quietly from the shadows off to the side. The deed was done under the cover of darkness, and police prevented CTV reporter Nick Moore from filming it by threatening him with arrest. Members of Occupy Fredericton on-site posed no threat to City workers or gave any sign of being belligerent. They put up no fight as their structure was removed.

We have several questions:

Why was it done secretly at night?

Why were the police there?

Who ordered the police not to allow filming of the incident by media?

Why weren't city council meetings on the issue transparent?

And who did council think they were acting on behalf of without a city-wide consensus on whether Occupy should stay or go?

The City of Fredericton has much to answer for on this issue. While they may have disliked Occupy protest tactics that led to a structure being on City Hall grounds, it's unacceptable for the City to have gone in during the dark of night and tear it down. Although the Occupiers were warned dismantlement was a strong possibility, they were also told by the Mayor on New Year's Eve it would likely end up in court. In giving mixed messages, the City played dirty with the Occupiers, and even dirtier by rousting them out at 5 a.m.

This behaviour by the Mayor and City Council shows they are a dictatorship that governs by decree and force, on behalf of themselves and their cronies, rather than fairness or the rule of law. Those who want change are bullied and silenced. That is what a dictatorship looks like. But it can change with a vote to get rid of them on May 14 in province-wide municipal elections. That is what a democracy looks like.