Recent documents indicate RCMP questioned U of O security about protest meetings
Jane Lytvynenko | Fulcrum Staff
Photo by Egor Evseev
LAST YEAR’S OCCUPY movement in the capital was closely monitored, according to documents recently acquired by the Canadian Press. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), National Capital Commission (NCC), and Ottawa police all kept tabs on the occupation according to the documents released under a freedom-of-information request.
RCMP Corporal Lucy Shorey said monitoring protesters is standard practice at the organization.
“The RCMP, along with its police partners, encourage peaceful protest and maintain open dialogue and are in constant contact with demonstrating organizations before and during an event,” said Shorey.
According to the report, the NCC monitored protesters while the Mounties gathered information by looking through social media and questioning campus security about meetings that took place at the University of Ottawa.
Karine Proulx, a media relations officer at the U of O, said the university reserves the right to have Protection Services present at any event for safety reasons.
“The mission of Protection Services is to enhance security and ensure respect for the rights of the university community and to protect the assets of the university and its members,” she said in an email. “For operational reasons, we can’t share details on protection-related activities.”
According to the Canadian Press, the RCMP intelligence report questioned campus security on the number of people who attended meetings at the U of O and picked up pamphlets from protesters. There was also talk of pointing city hall cameras at Confederation Park, where protesters set up camp throughout the fall of 2011. Shorey said it’s common practice for the RCMP to observe protests.
“It’s to make sure we are able to balance the rights to peaceful demonstrations as well as the rights to a safe environment for citizens,” she said. “We do this to maintain a safe event for both organizers and people.”
The first Occupy gathering in Ottawa took place in September 2011, not long after the initial Occupy Wall Street protests began. According to a press release from the Ottawa Police Service, the initial demonstration saw a turnout of 400 people and was monitored by Ottawa police and RCMP officers. A total of 117 arrests were made that day. About 70 people pitched a tent in the park overnight, with the numbers dropping gradually as the weather got colder.
The documents show that during the protesters’ stay, dozens of complaints were filed about rats, drugs, and sexual assault. The encampment stayed at Confederation Park until Nov. 21, 2011, after which the NCC ordered all occupants off the grounds.