Thursday, 16 January 2014

Peaceful Occupation of the Meyers Farm a Success, For Now

The peaceful occupation of the Trenton Ontario farm of Frank Meyers has succeeded, for now, in preventing the demolition of Mr. Meyers’ barns, and the ultimate and irreversible seizure of his prime farmland by the Department of National Defence (DND).

Image by Occupy Canada
Though Mr. Meyers had been promised by the DND that he would receive written notice in advance of the demolition of his farm buildings, the first of the peaceful occupiers arrived at the Meyers farm early Monday morning to keep vigilant watch. On the morning of January 13, an OPP cruiser arrived at the Meyers home, and an officer informed Frank that the demolition would indeed be taking place that very day.

The first occupiers on scene, Phil Ostroskie, Kim Verner-Ostroskie and Rachelle Verner, of Prince Edward County Ontario, keeping watch from their motor home parked in the driveway of the farm, alerted Mr. Meyers as military police and demolition crews, led by Major Ronald Nelson of CFB Trenton, rolled through Meyers’ corn field. In response to this armed invasion of his property, Mr. Meyers crossed the railroad tracks onto the part of his farm that the DND claims as their own, and served Major Nelson, as well as members of the demolition crew employed by Parkside Landscaping and Contracting, with cease and desist orders.

In receipt of the cease and desist orders, the invaders retreated, but not before threatening Mr. Meyers and his supporters with arrest, should they remain on the wrong side of the tracks upon their return. Dozens of supporters arrived throughout the day Monday, as Meyers scrambled to remove as many of his belongings from his barns as possible, in case demolition crews were to succeed in their mission of destroying his property.

The presence of Meyers’ supporters as well as several national media outlets on the farm kept demolition crews and military police at bay Monday, and through the night until early Tuesday morning. Under the cover of darkness and a blanket of fog, a single military police vehicle approached Meyers’ barns by way of a makeshift road forged through the cornfield by demolition crews the previous morning. Vigilant occupiers, who had remained on the farm overnight, once again alerted Frank to the invasion, and the military police quickly retreated down the path, with 85-year-old Meyers following closely behind in his John Deere tractor.

At approximately 9:00 am on Tuesday morning, Mr. Meyers placed a call to CFB Trenton, demanding an audience on his farm with base commander Colonel David Lothian. Meyers asked that the Colonel attend with documentation in-hand, proving the legitimacy of the DND’s claimed ownership of his farm. Having received no response from the Colonel, Meyers and his supporters crossed the railroad tracks onto the DND-claimed portion of his farm, and set up camp next to the barns. Military police did not respond, and demonstrators remained for the duration of the day and through the night. 

Occupiers of the Meyers farm vow to remain on site around
the clock in order to protect the property against armed
military invasion.
Photo by Michael Clark

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for CFB Trenton told local media that demolition of the farm buildings would be postponed, citing a desire to “make this as easy as possible on the individual (Meyers)” and a recognition of the occupiers’ “right to protest”. There were, however, no statements made indicating that plans to demolish the buildings would be scrapped. Instead, it seems, the DND will wait for occupiers to leave to farm so that they can proceed unencumbered with the destruction of Meyers’ property. CFB Trenton spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Danny Breton said, “We are waiting until conditions are appropriate to continue further development of the site.”

While the military waits for peaceful occupiers of the Meyers farm to disappear so they can proceed with their plans, supporters of the farmer remain on site, and vow to stay put around the clock to protect the private property against this armed invasion.