by Roxanna Woloshyn
A year since the Occupy Regina movement began, a new group of protestors is planning a three-day demonstration at Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field. On the last weekend in September, protestors will gather for Occupy the Stadium.
“The idea isn’t to protest the Riders. It’s to protest the fact that the stadium is being dictated to people and that we are paying for it out of our tax dollars without having a say,” said Dawn Thomas, organizer of Occupy the Stadium.
During the demonstration, a petition, which is already in circulation around the city, will be passed around.
“The main goal out of the whole event is to gather signatures to raise awareness that the stadium should not be taking priority over the needs of the citizen,” explains Thomas.
Thomas created a Facebook event for the protest and invited users to join. She says she was inspired by last fall’s Occupy movement, but added that this demonstration wasn’t originally affiliated with it.
“I now have people from Occupy that are supporting this event (who are) going to be there in attendance during parts of the weekend. So originally it wasn’t affiliated. But now it is,” she said.
From the beginning, safety and obeying the law have been priorities, according to Thomas. Thomas said she planned to inform City Bylaw Services and Regina City Police about the demonstration, but they contacted her first. Jim Hopson, president and chief executive officer of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, said he is pleased the organizers made their intentions known.
“People could set up a block away or two blocks away or on Albert Street, so we’re glad that we’re able to work with them. I’m hopeful this is going to be a fairly peaceful way to express opinion,” he said.
One of the protest days falls on the Saturday home game. Hopson said it’s important to take into consideration the possibility of clashes between game-goers and protestors.
“We’re a little concerned of course. It’s a nice game and you know the Rider game(s), they’re passionate and you mix some partying in with that. We don’t want to see that turn into any kind of confrontation, nor do they,” he said.
Though the space for the protestors has not been finalized, Hopson said it will likely be outside of the stadium.
“We don’t think putting them on the practice field is a good way to go –where that party area is. So, we’ve worked with the city and (the organizers) to find a couple of the areas that are just in between the stadium and the practice area,” he said.
Five thousand people had signed the petition as of Sept. 15. The group hopes to gain another 5,000 signatures by the end of the month.
Because of the city bylaw, the group will not be camping out and organizers are asking participants to leave their tents at home. The protest begins and ends at different times each day of the weekend, with the times posted on the Occupy the Stadium Facebook event page.