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Tent-pitching protestor in Victoria receives jail time

He occupies no more.

After an apparent protest over the "right for homeless people to have a designated public space," David Arthur Johnston was arrested in Victoria last Thursday for breaching court-ordered conditions and pitching a tent in the city's Centennial Square, according to a report by B Channel News.

Johnston's court order was imposed Nov. 2, 2011 after he joined the Occupy Victoria protests, breaching a previous order not to pitch a tent in Centennial Square for one year, according to the Victoria Times Colonist. He also received a 60-day jail sentence at that time.

When asked about his motives, the B Channel News story quotes Johnston as saying: "It's the last recourse. We've tried the cops, we've tried the courts, we've tried the political arena… we've got to the point where we said that, OK we've tried everything, now it's time for active, peaceful, revolution."

B Channel News chronicled the outcome of Johnston's repeated efforts to camp under a Sequoia tree next to City Hall, reporting:

"Representing the City of Victoria, prosecuting attorney Troy De Souza outlined [Johnston's] current breaches of conditions, which included not setting up a tent anywhere in Victoria and not being within a fifty foot radius of Centennial Square. He went on to list a number of previous breaches and arrests but stated, 'We don't have those records.' When it came to the issue of Mr. Johnston's longer incarcerations, DeSouza reminded the judge that the court had the authority to use what he called, 'the hammer' in dealing with people who repeatedly breach court ordered conditions.

"DeSouza said 'Mr. Johnston needs to be treated differently' since he doesn't use money, so fines can't be collected, and he has repeatedly breached conditions... DeSouza opined that Johnston had a 'martyr complex.'"

BC Channel News also posted this undated interview with Johnston on its website:

Johnston was sentenced to a psychiatric evaluation and six weeks in jail, according to the report.

Robyn Smith reports and edits for The Tyee.

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