#SacredProvocation: The Story Behind the ‘Sacred Fire’

Preparation of the #SacredProvocation...

It was Sunday afternoon, shortly after the Black Bloc showed up, with a large group of new First Nations…

At about 2pm, I saw two FN men with a large oil barrel-they were smashing holes in the bottom of it, I had no idea why so I asked. They looked very nervous and didn’t respond.  I forgot about it the next hour, until I saw them setting it up in front of the stage.

I was shocked & appalled- a fire was the greatest agitation that could have been done at that moment. It was obvious to me that someone was trying to hurt our movement. Curiously, there were VFD there, they asked that a fire not be lit. But, when the FN guys continued to work on the fire, theVFD began to give suggestions on how to make it safer. It was a bizarre scene.

There was a group of FN’s not involved in making the fire who got very angry at the two who were.  They basically said it was sacrilegious to start a fire in the name of a provocation. This continued for about 20 minutes before they gave up. This was my first clue that there was something wrong going on.

Soon after, someone from the tent council came to me (and others), asked if we would be willing to learn how to keep a human chain around the (unlit) fire barrel. I looked at them and chuckled, then asked if they understood the consequences of starting the fire. They turned around and walked away. Now I was certain this was a provocation…

There was a short practice session where people formed a human chain, after everyone was certain they knew what they were doing, they stopped. Then the fire was lit- and the whole camp went into a frenzy. Many people left at that moment, I stayed around for a short while longer and watched people’s reaction- then I left.

That evening, I watched the General Assembly through the live stream. It was a curious GA, a large group of new people were in the audience, and there was someone new acting as a moderator. She started to bang through a group of proposals- many of which were not in in the interest of OV’s longevity. The most controversial proposal was that OV should pay for the wood for the ‘Sacred Fire’. This was introduced as a ‘friendly amendment’ meaning that it could be voted on that day, as opposed to the normal process of waiting until the next day. There was no time left for discussion, and a, mostly new,  audience voted yes to pay $300 a week for the fire.

Later that night the real fun started. The fire was continuously stoked and refilled until the point where the VFD felt it was necessary to take action and out it out. The human chain was formed when the VFD and VPD showed-up to stop the fire. Members of the Tent Council who weren’t part of the chain began to charge at the police & firemen. The firemen began to shoot a fire extinguisher at the barrel, some of the people in the chain got hit with the fire repellent. And, some of the people in the chain got pushed against the scalding hot barrel- a number of people had their legs burned.

As the Tent council members were charging the VFD/VPD, they began to act like animals- biting, kicking, and someone stole a clip of ammunition from a police officer. Basically, the event became a gong show- senseless violence to protect the #SacredProvocation. The show ended when the fire was out, the VPF & VFD then left.

One of the more unusual parts of this incident is how Tent Council members complained afterwards that  the VFD used a ‘special’ fire extinguisher that has mace inside of it. This is completely ridiculous- if the authorities wanted to gas them, it is seriously doubtful they would have gone to such lengths to hide it. But, the Tent people’s minds have been somehow programmed to believe the city wants to physically hurt them. Crazy.

So, there you have it- the story of the #SacredProvocation. It is obvious to me that this was a planned provocation- most likely to scare sensible people away from the camp. It worked too, because many people left when it started, and the GA appeared to be hijacked. The demographics of OV changed dramatically since then- the people who showed-up on Sunday are now running the camp. I asked the police if they saw this on Monday, and they confirmed that a ‘highly organized’ group of people took over OV, and the VPD are concerned that they may be planning to instigate more violence.

When all is said and done, I’m sure this will be looked at as the beginning of the end for OV 1.0. Whatever OV 2.0 will be- it will begin with a solid coded of conduct that will not be allowed to be changed. Until then, what a long strange trip it will be…

Permanent link to this article: http://www.genuinewitty.com/2011/11/13/sacredprovocation-the-story-behind-the-sacred-fire/


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  1. I don’t know who you’re thinking Tent Council are, but you’re wrong. :p

    1. Wrong about what?

  2. Here’s a copy of the video…

  3. Nothing in the video you’ve provided supports any of your wingnut theories.

    for one thing, people’s reactions to the cops and fire dept. in no way suggests that this was premeditated as a provocation. nothing. just because people were prepared to defend the fire with an act of non violent direct action–a human chain–does not mean it was meant to provoke. I thought you wanted people to be non violent? the human chain is one of the most classic NVDA tactics. i thought you were advocating nonviolence; wtf?

    also, it would appear that your suggestions that “members of the Tent Council who weren’t part of the chain began to charge at the police & firemen,” and that “as the Tent council members were charging the VFD/VPD, they began to act like animals- biting, kicking, and someone stole a clip of ammunition from a police officer.” is a total fantasy based on nothing other than police reports. there is no charging evident in the video. in fact, the only ppl flying around are the ones being thrown by the cops. whose side are you on? that the cops claim that two officers were bitten is not surprising. maybe int happened, but i cant blame a small person for biting the hand of an officer who might be choking or grabbing them–i did see a lot of that in the video, cops choking and tossing small protesters. and maybe someone “stole” an ammunition clip, or maybe, more likely, a cop lost one in the scuffle and whenever something like that happens, things are reported “stolen”. the amount of trust you place in the police is really really scary.

    and another thing, the notion that this incident somehow constitutes “senseless violence to protect the #SacredProvocation” verges on delusional. i will not say any more about that.

    and finally, no black bloc here. go find another straw man.

    ps. you should really reconsider the language with which are using to talk about indigenous peoples and culture. its some pretty ugly shit you’re posting.

    1. Wow, you certainly are an angry one…

      The video was from before the planning, so can’t prove anything about it being premeditated. But, if you look closely, you will see at least three members of the Tent Council…

      The video was originally 21 minutes long, somneone cut out the part with the charging, but I still have it. Will see if I can repost for you….

      Where did I say anything about a Black Bloc being in the video? Are you on drugs, or imagining things?

      And, as for my judgement on that the fire is a provocation? Well, I never said it, some other FN people did- they were highly offended by what happened and were yelling at the people lighting the fire- they called it sacrilegious…

      I find it curious that we pay these people to be here too- wish some one paid me to come, sure many wish for the same. lol

  4. I do not feel that this is an accurate representation of the events that transpired. I suggest readers take this article with a grain of salt.

    1. Can you please explain what part isn’t accurate? I was there to watch it, but perhaps there is something I missed?

  5. There are a lot of people visiting this page the past couple of days. Can you share what brought you here today?

    • ??? on May 4, 2012 at 21:35
    • Reply

    Why do occupy GAs vote on anything more than basic nessesities? Doesnt it cease to be a movement if their is a heirarchy?

  1. […] and writing about after Harsha Walia brought some of her friends to Occupy Vancouver to start a provocative “sacred” fire. I also used this tactic quite successfully in the past with David Eby. A couple of days ago I made […]

  2. […] this June 21st. This uprising was first called for in a video (which has now been taken down) after the Sacred Fire incident at Occupy Vancouver. A Sacred Fire was also lit at Occupy Toronto- both fires were organized by people with direct […]

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