Occupy Calgary smoker slapped with $500 fine for littering: ‘We’re getting new tickets every minute,’ fellow protester complains

out in Olympic Plaza has landed one Occupy Calgary protester a $500 fine.

While stamping out a cigarette on Saturday morning, James Bullock was approached by two police officers and reprimanded.

"I think this is complete bull----," Bullock said. "The government needs to take this and shove it up their a-- and have a nice day.

"I can't afford this, man," he continued. "I only get $1,180 a month. You think I can afford a $500 ticket when I need to pay rent, my groceries and medical bills?"

Earlier this week, the city said it would eventually ticket, warn and then confiscate Occupy Calgary's gear, which has been set up in Olympic Plaza for more than three weeks.

However, mayor Naheed Nenshi has offered no timeline for the eviction. Meanwhile, occupiers claim they're being fined for petty infractions more frequently.

Protester Christopher Beggs feels the group is being unfairly targeted.

"We're getting new tickets every minute," said Beggs, who claims he was fined $50 for playing music in a park space. "Especially since they realized they're not going to be able to evict us under their normal avenues and channels."

"They just used the opportunity to take advantage of the bylaw," he said of the ticket. "It's discrimination."

Beggs said the group has been consulting lawyers daily and will be appealing the fines.

Bill Bruce, director of animal and bylaw services, said the city is continuing to enforce all normal bylaws, with the exception of the one that bars the protesters from camping in the park.

"This is exactly what we said (we'd do) and we've kept that up," he said.

Police and bylaw officers are continuing to monitor the situation.

City negotiators are still hoping for a peaceful and orderly solution, said Tom Sampson, the head of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency.

"We're on to dealing with the eighth person representing the squatting group at Olympic Plaza. There have been a few changeovers there," he said.

Protester Brent Talbot, who received a summon earlier in the week, estimated over 30 tickets have been given out over the last three days.

Despite the ticketing, Talbot said the group hasn't been deterred.

"It makes us stronger," he said. "It makes us more cohesive. It makes us more creative. It brings us together for more powerful conversations."

Meanwhile, Saturday also saw labour organizations join occupiers in a rally held outside City Hall.

Members of the Calgary & District Labour Council, Alberta Federation of Labour, and Teamsters Canada Rail Conference spoke to a group over 60 people.

CDLC president Alex Shevalier said the groups share common ground.

"(The) Occupy Calgary movement is very much a grassroots movement that sprang up to try to reduce some of the inequities in our society," Shevalier said.

"It started a conversation off in this country that really wasn't happening," he added. "We hope that conversation will continue."

Calgary Herald, Sat Nov 12 2011

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