Rumours to the contrary, it really IS just me.
You may have seen some of the right leaning newspapers carry the news that up to 90% of the tents outside St Paul’s for the Occupy London Stock Exchange protest are empty at night.
The newspapers are making the point that these protesters aren’t trying, that they don’t really care and that the tents are just a nuisance tactic that should be removed.
The newspapers used a thermal imaging camera to scan the square in order to reveal heat sources inside the tents. On the surface it sounds like a really smart idea. It’s an effective way to see which tents are occupied and which are empty that does not involve disturbing anyone.
Sounds logical, right? Sure sounded that way to the Vancouver firefighter I spoke to early this week, who said they’d done exactly the same thing here, and found most of the tents completely empty. Of course, the firefighter I spoke to a day later, the one with many more, very shiny badges that I couldn’t read because I’m all about the myopia, stated unequivocally that the Vancouver firefighters hadn’t used their infrared camera, although every truck has one, because “well, we just don’t want to KNOW some of what’s going on, and you can see absolutely everything with those cameras.” It’s true, nobody wants to inadvertently videotape the moment of Tent Baby‘s conception; hippie/hipster/crunchygranolaactivist/unionleader porn is not a genre with a great future ahead of it.
Now, I don’t think either of those men were lying, but only one can be right: either Vancouver Fire and Rescue used the infrared cameras or they didn’t. I asked the second firefighter if he’d be willing to put them to a test, which was when he brought up the fact that he for one wasn’t going to authorize the invasion of any tent dweller’s privacy, and kudos to him.
Whatever they are.
Anyhoodle, that’s not exactly what I had in mind. I had in mind something like this:
Following all the media hype (Telegraph, The Times, Daily Mail, Daily Express) about ‘empty tents’ at OccupyLSX we decided to check out whether their thermal imaging evidence was true.
We got hold of *exactly* the same thermal imaging camera and showed that – surprise, surprise – you can’t tell when people are in their tents.
So don’t believe the lies – come down to OccupyLSX and join the vibrant community of people working for a better world. http://occupylsx.org
So today’s serving of some more paperwork on OccupyVancouver is particularly timely; they must have known I was working on this post! Awwww. I got a copy to digitize, which attempt failed when I couldn’t get Cathy Browne‘s scanner to work (I think it must be a 1%er; Canon is a huge company) but I took some pictures, so here are some.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Order (Pursuant to Vancouver fire by-law no. 8191) to:
As a Representative of Occupy Vancouver, Grounds of 750 Hornby Street, Vancouver, BC, V6Z 2H7 [wait, Occupy has its own postal code? That feels somehow validating!]
The premises Occupied by you to wit, Assembly located at 750 Hornby St Vancouver, BC, legally known as Plan 15322, New Westminster Land District, blks 51, 61 & 71 DL 541 PLN – 14423 Assessment includes improvements on 026-602-124-04 & 12 & 14 & 1-6 & 56 026-604-124-24 (exc. leased) Inspected on the 03 day of November 20011.
THE INSPECTION REVEALED THAT:
Vancouver fire by-law, Sentence 1.4.41.(1) – it is the opinion of the Fire Chief a condition exists at 750 Hornby Street, Vancouver, BC which endangers life and poses a risk of injury or loss by fire due to;
1. The lack of secure and safe means of egress and access ways within any large tarpaulin structure containing secondary tent structures.
2. The use of open flame and/or flammable heat source.
3. The storage and use of propane or other fuel sources.
THEREFORE, pursuant to the authority vested in me in accordance with Clauses 188.8.131.52.(1) and Article 184.108.40.206.(1)(d), 220.127.116.11.(1)(e), 18.104.22.168.(1)f), 22.214.171.124.(1)(g) and 1/4/4/2/(1)(j) of Vancouver Fire By-law No. 8191, you are HEREBY ORDERED TO:
1. Remove all tarpaulin enclosures or erect overhead tarps as canopies providing full visibility and appropriate egress and access routes.
2. Provide, alter or improve a continuous path of travel to all individual tents within all tarpaulin structures.
3. Identify for Fire Safety Inspectors all tents that are occupied.
4. Remove all unoccupied tents.
5. Provide appropriate spacing between the tents to reduce/eliminate fire spread and smoke exposure.
6. Remove all open flame and/or flammable heat sources.
7. Ensure no propane or other fuel sources are located on this site.
8. Comply with any other provision of Vancouver Fire Bylaw 8191.
The work involved in this Order must be completed on or before: Immediately.
John McKearney, General Manager/Fire Chief
Both sides are probably going to be pissed at me for putting the Anonymous mask anywhere near this document, but what can I say? It does liven things up a titch.
Now, our old friend Rumour has some things to say, but first we’re going to hear from me, because it’s my blog and Rumour will just have to wait his damn turn again.
I was there the night the fire lanes and access paths were built, and people cooperatively moved tents. Yes, it was a pain in the ass, but nobody wants to die and nobody wants the Occupation to get shut down, so people cooperated. Generally, the firefighters other uniformed personnel have been pretty cool. There’s no hostility, and at the General Assembly you can generally find several paying close attention not because they’re conducting surveillance, but because they’re actually interested. I tried to donate a railway lantern, and everyone just said NO, are you KIDDING? because they have actually been very good about no flames in Tent City. The issue of the big Uber-tarps over a whole cluster of tents was raised Wednesday, so it’s no surprise that this was coming. The firefighters were firm about the danger; not only can they not tell when a tent inside the superstructure is on fire, but there are really no clear ways out in case of danger. I can attest to the fact that the media tent’s door is so well-hidden that it’s going to be my LAST choice of exit in case of emergency.
The meditation tent even has those electric votives, by the way.
Okay, back to Rumour. Rumour says that this morning firefighters found not only had tents encroached on the fire lanes and accessways, but also there were several propane tanks sitting out in the open right in one of the accessways.
Prize for the stupidest Occupier has just been won, methinks. At least he lost those tanks, and they’re not that cheap.
About the man who overdosed this morning: all I know at this point is, he OD’d in a tent and isn’t dead at this point, although his condition is either serious or critical. Someone very smart on Twitter said that it’s a good thing it happened in Tent City, because if he were in a less public, less collectivist space he could well have died. This is the city where my co-op put up seven foot high steel fences to keep people from OD’ing in the playground, because they choose isolated places to shoot up, and then people never find them in time. I’ll report back on that when I know more. There were apparently (according to Rumour) serious talks only yesterday about drug use, in particular smoking drugs in the plaza and at the GA. People are particularly concerned because there are young children living here. No resolution one way or the other as far as I know.