Occupy Surrey: George W. Bush met by War Criminal Welcoming Committee
On October 20th, former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were invited by Mayor Diane Watts, the Surrey Board of Trade and Surrey City Council to speak at the Surrey Regional Economic Summit. Each former President was given $150,000 for their appearance, while the attendees paid an astonishing $599 each to attend. The media weren’t allowed access to the event, but Mayor Watts and BC Premiere Christy Clark were supposedly very enthusiastic to attend.
Given the on-going global Occupy Movements, where millions are rallying against corporate capitalism – where the wealth and decision making power is held by the 1%, with little regard for the planet’s remaining 99% -this particular event in Surrey seemed especially pertinent.
George Bush has had to cancel events in Europe for fear of arrest, yet he is welcomed by elected politicians (Mayor Watts, Premiere Clark, Immigration Minister Kenney, and Prime Minister Harper) in Canada. What does this say about the culture of politics in this country?
Brigette DePape, who famously held a sign that read “Stop Harper” in parliament earlier this year, during the throne speech, had this to share with the hundreds gathered to oppose Bush’s visit. “Harper is in many ways our Bush…he is using millions of dollars on war, instead of us. Harper says Islamicism is the biggest threat to our security. It’s only a government that is lead by neo-conservative, dangerous dogma that could come up with a statement like that.”
“We are here because we know Harper is perpetuating a culture of fear in order to justify these terribly discriminatory policies,” continued DePape to the enthusiastic crowd. “We are here to say ‘no more’; Harper cannot get away with this.”
In the spirit of the on-going Occupy Movement, DePape stated:
The change we need will not happen in parliament, when it is our leaders that are committing these injustices. It is really up to us to make change happen. Change will happen with us, with ordinary people coming together in the streets. We are making decisions…we are really mobilizing. The governments and the mainstream is trying to belittle us, but we know this is only because they are afraid. We are finally getting mobilized. We will stop impunity. We will stop war. We will stop Harper and we will stop Bush as we gather together to become a breathing, living force.
Faced with dozens and dozens of police officers at the Sheraton (where event was held), the crowd decided to march to the major intersection of 152 street and 104 avenue, and hold an impromptu general assembly, which stimulated a vibrant discussion via human mic, so all could hear. A brave group broke off and successfully held one of the back entrances to the event, blocking many attendees from leaving. Things got tense when dozens of riot unit-looking cops showed up. Two police helicopters flew overhead.
No one was arrested, however. Not even George Bush.