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Legion worried Occupy Maple Ridge will disrupt Nov. 11 ceremony

The Maple Ridge branch of the Royal Canadian Legion is worried a protest against global financial inequality and corporate greed will affect its Remembrance Day ceremony on Friday.

Jim MacDonald, president of the Maple Ridge branch, wrote a letter to Occupy Maple Ridge, voicing his worries about pickets and tents on the parade site.

MacDonald and the Legion was  invited to speak at the first local “general assembly” held in Memorial Peace Park on Sunday, but declined.

“Our only concern is that they leave Remembrance Day alone,” he said.

“It is a day we pay respect to veterans of past, present and future, and we don’t want to see it disrupted by a political rally.”

Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protest that began in New York City in September, the Maple Ridge version is still in its nascent stage and has yet to pick a location or date for the occupation.

Close to 50 people attended its general assembly, but no decisions were made on whether to begin a permanent occupation or have rolling protests.

Initially three daily meetings – at 9 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. – were proposedm, but now the group is reconsidered and pitched the meetings be held weekly.

Elizabeth Rosenau, a pharmacist and community volunteer involved with Occupy Maple Ridge, stressed the local group is trying to make sure the protest is not usurped by confrontational anarchists.

In Vancouver, police were reportedly bitten by protesters Monday night, and in Victoria on Tuesday a man dumped urine on a city worker who was trying to dislodge him from a tree.

“We won’t tolerate the use of drugs or alcohol or people who will be belligerent or difficult because we don’t want to turn people off,” said Rosenau, adding that the Legion should not be worried that Occupy Maple Ridge would disrupt Nov. 11 ceremonies.

“Respect means a lot to the members of the group. As a group that is trying to be inclusive we don’t want to be seen being disrespectful whether it be to veterans, police or fire fighters. We want to coexist.”

Daniel Epp, another member of Occupy Maple Ridge, also reassured the veterans.

"There is not one person in the group who wants to do picket on Remembrance Day," he said.

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