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Organizers will close Olympic Tent Village if asked

Organizers of the Olympic Tent Village on Hastings street will likely comply with any police or city order to disband the encampment.

“This is a peaceful protest,” the Power of Women’s Elaine Durocher told reporters Monday afternoon. “When they ask us to leave – and if it’s before our demands are met – we will leave peacefully.”

Right now, an estimated 142 tents occupy a vacant lot between Carrall and Abbott streets. The land is owned by Concord Pacific, which has leased it to VANOC during the Games.

Tents sprouted one week ago. Organizers are demanding all levels of government take action on homelessness. They want the province to provide homes for those in the village without them.

Despite recent tensions with undercover cops, organizers said relations with police have been good.

Inside the village, several men and women sat around a log fire burning in a steel pail. Free bread provided by Food not Bombs overflowed from baskets. The group's volunteers regularly prepare meals and snacks for village residents and visitors.

Over the past week, various groups have offered bike, knitting and banner-making workshops. The atmosphere is peaceful and congenial, village volunteer Maxim Winther said.

“Lots of people in the Downtown Eastside have a history of trauma and abuse,” he said. “They need love and community.”

Geoff Dembicki reports for the Tyee.

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