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Eric Clement

Is protesting worth a criminal record?

It’s raining outside, the thermometer is reaching near freezing temperatures, and London, Ont., resident Mike Roy is about to spend his first night indoors in over a week.The only bags he has with him are those hanging under his eyes, and the cold he has developed seems only natural given the thin camouflage jacket he is wearing.As a newly laid-off Bell Canada employee, Roy’s home for the last ten nights has been various tents in Toronto’s St. James Park and London’s Victoria Park. Roy is not homeless, but the 43-year-old, self-described activist is part of the Occupy London movement.“I need a little time away,” said Roy. “I plan on waking up nice and early, though, and coming down to help out. I might even spend the night tomorrow.”For Roy, the fact that there is a municipal ordinance against sleeping in the park posted no more than 50 feet away from his tent is barely an afterthought. But for many of the movement’s younger members, the legality of the event is constantly on their mind.According to section 3.1 of London’s Parks and Recreation Area by-law, no person may “enter or remain in a recreation area or park between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. of the following day.” A further by-law states that it is prohibited to “hold or take part in an unauthorized public meeting or gathering” in a recreational area.Laura Robinson, 20, is one of the younger protesters involved in the Occupy London movement. She said that the movement means a great deal to her, but so does her future.“Eventually I’d like to work for the federal government,” said Robinson. “This is one of the reasons I’m afraid of any involvement with the police.”As a second-year health sciences student at the University of Western Ontario, Robinson is hoping to work for… Read More