Will Eviction of Occupy Halifax Protesters Be a Brilliant or Disastrous PR Move?

On October 25th, Mayor Peter Kelly of Halifax gave eviction notice to the Occupy Halifax protesters by November 6th so the Grand Parade public space they occupy could be prepared for use to mark Dignity Day Ceremony by the Atlantic Jewish Council on November 9 and a Remembrance Day event on November 11. For those not familiar with Halifax, Grand Parade is the pre-eminent place for many official public ceremonies in Halifax, not just some park somewhere like Occupy Protests in other cities are located. Well, I hope all the public relations professionals and students in the province, and beyond, are watching, because this is real life public relations strategy they could seriously learn from for their careers.

Eviction of an underdog group with some public sympathy is a public relations disaster, no matter how messed up they are… and these people are. The other 99% they claim to represent? With a population of some 400,000 in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), those 70 permanent protesters are several hundred other supports are not even the other 0.99% (3960 people required). They’re not even the other 0.099% (396 people required)! The protest on Saturday over the eviction netted just over 100 people or about 0.030% of HRM, never mind Nova Scotia. What 99% do they think they’re representing??? The ones in their minds, maybe?

They’re just pretentious and loud-mouthed to claim representation for 99% of the people to give their lives a cause when it’s lacking one. They’re also mathematically challenged, obviously. These people don’t even know what they’re protesting for as numerous interviews have indicated and exposed them. However, there’s nothing like a group with nothing to lose to get some default public sympathy.

So how do you move a group with some public sympathy without looking like the Devil?

You mobilize groups with bigger public sympathies against them.

Occupy Halifax only has “some” public sympathy. This isn’t America. There is a far greater percentage of us paying taxes in Canada and we would appreciate if some of those protesters get some or some more income so they could, too. We have universal health care and welfare which takes care of those protesters, even if they’re not paying in to it or paying in to it much. We have a lot more distribution of taxes than other countries. We even let them use corporate bathrooms around the area! This is Canada, people! We are the shining light to a lot of potential refugees, immigrants and regular citizens of many other countries. Protesting against the woes of a great country like this is only going to get you a limited amount of public sympathy.

The military, and even a cultural segments as the Jewish people commemorating the real sacrifices they have made to be where they, and we, are today, that’s worthy of real public sympathy. Yet, Occupy Nova Scotia dared to call usage of Grand Parade for those purposes an “excuse” to evict them with this tweet.

 “So @mayorpeterkelly wants to evict @OccupyNS using excuse of Remembrance Day? What did (the soldiers) fight & die for again? #OurRights.

Excuse? Last I checked, these ceremonies weren’t just created. Last I checked, these ceremonies has been held in Grand Parade for years. Last I checked, Grand Parade was a public space for all. Last I checked, having a makeshift camp around a formal ceremony isn’t affording anybody any dignity. The soldiers fought for all our freedoms, including theirs to have a space for their day, not Occupy Halifax’s freedom to usurp others.

I’ll tell you what that eviction call is, though. It is a brilliant public relations move to mobilize a bigger source of public sympathy against a smaller one.

While that battle is easily won in public opinion, the task of evicting the protesters is still potentially a public relations nightmare with images you can imagine. Putting the police to the task is probably not a viable option, but letting the public come down on them without interference might be. Just see what would happen if you moved Remembrance Day and Dignity Day ceremonies from Grand Parade for less than 0.099% of the population in this traditional population. I’m betting the City wouldn’t have to take any action on its own with those announcement, and calling the police in to protect the Occupy protesters wouldn’t be an option, of course, cause the police is part of “the man”. Talk about cruel irony!

Another option would be to “peacefully” lock out all traffic of people and material coming in and out of Grand Parade. You want to stay? We’ll let you stay. We’ll just protest peacefully all around you to protect you from all things evil you loathe. Grand Parade is your space. The space all around you is our space. Shakespeare couldn’t write better irony. 🙂

If the Occupy Halifax protesters really have any intelligence, they’d move to show the public they have some respect for the law and those who make our lives better. This is their opportunity to win some real public sympathy. Will they be smart enough to do so?

Just on Friday, Mayor Kelly met with the Occupy Halifax protesters and veterans (CBC) to see if a compromise could be made. It didn’t seem like anything came of it, even if the Mayor has offered them space on the Halifax Commons where there are lots of traffic and visibility. Frankly, I can’t say I’m surprised. I wouldn’t want to see anything of Occupy Halifax during the Remembrance or Dignity Day ceremonies. They are part of neither and don’t deserve to share the spotlight, as well as be a distraction, in a space for all to take turn using, not occupying and sharing, in very serious and solemn occasions.

So we’ll see where this goes by 5 pm on Sunday, November 6th. I wouldn’t be surprised if there will be unexpected turns yet. The Occupy Halifax protesters may still win out for November, but you wait till Christmas and the tree lighting ceremonies and such. You’ll then be pitting God against the embittered, not just the military or the Jewish people and culture, as worthy as they are. Ultimately, though, Occupy Halifax is going to lose out because there is no way the world and Canada is going to change as much as they think they want, given they don’t know themselves, before they die.

As someone who is interested in public relations and public opinion mobilization, I’ll definitely be watching this is definitely going to be interesting!

Bring it on!

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