City takes legal action against Falun Gong protest

CBC News/August 11, 2006

Vancouver went to court Friday seeking an order to force Falun Gong supporters to remove their protest wall from the sidewalk in front of the Chinese Consulate on Granville Street.

The large, blue plywood wall has stood in front of the consulate in the city's upscale Shaughnessy neighbourhood for nearly five years.

It features photographs of Falun Gong members the group claims were tortured or killed by the Chinese government.

The protesters have also erected a small wooden booth on the sidewalk where the group's members have kept an around-the-clock vigil.

Two months ago, Mayor Sam Sullivan indicated he wanted the structures taken down because they violate the city's Street and Traffic Bylaw.

Deputy city engineer Peter Judd says the group has ignored the notice the city posted at the site in early June, so the city is going to court.

"Imagine if the signs and structures were on your block, across from your house or in front of your house or your neighbour's house. They're not attractive and in the long term, people don't want them there.

"I think that people are prepared to tolerate a protest for some reasonable time period, but five years is beyond reasonable."

Falun Gong supporters argue they have a right to demonstrate, and that it's not up to the mayor to decide when they have made their point.

No date has yet been set for a hearing in B.C. Supreme Court.

The Falun Gong spiritual movement was founded in 1992 and has an estimated 70 million practitioners in China, where it has been outlawed by the government.

The group says its members are persecuted by China, and that more than 2,800 adherents have been tortured to death.

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