Protesters arrested after 5-hour takeover of last STC bus

By Chris Vandenbreekel/CKOM News Staff
June 1, 2017 - 8:13am

Saskatoon police arrested several protesters who took over a Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) bus for nearly five hours Wednesday evening.

Six arrived on the last bus from Regina around 8:30 p.m., refusing to get off at the Saskatoon bus station. A seventh protester from inside the station ran past security and joined them.

Nearly 100 demonstrators stood inside the bus terminal, cheering them on and singing songs about saving the 71-year-old bus company, which ended its operations Wednesday night.

"We're going to make sure we're a pain in (the government's) ass, because they're a pain in ours," Damion Graham, one of the protesters on the bus, said.

"We don't want the Sask. government to just sit on their hands and ignore us."

Police arrived on scene more than an hour after the bus occupation began. They spoke with the demonstrators, but didn't remove them immediately.

"We're just here to keep the peace," one officer told 650 CKOM.

Shortly before 11 p.m. the bus was moved, with the protesting passengers still on board, out of the secured bays and on to Ontario Avenue.

The protesters were allowed to move freely, and a few who had stuck around inside the terminal joined them.

"Let's keep this going for a few weeks," David Lyons-Morgan told his fellow demonstrators. "Make it a focal point of our protests."

A sign-up sheet for supplies and manpower was passed among the group to organize a potentially weeks-long occupation of the bus.

However, shortly after 1 a.m. police stopped the protesters from entering the bus. By 1:30 a.m. the six demonstrators still on the bus were taken away in handcuffs.

A staff sgt. told 650 CKOM the protesters were released with a warning for mischief.

STC drivers and management declined requests for comment.

Bus driver, passengers applauded

Drivers and passengers of the last two buses to arrive at the Saskatoon station were greeted with cheers from the crowd and flowers.

The driver from Regina took a bow to the crowd, taking the flowers he received and placing them on the dash of his bus before speaking with protesters at length.

A bus carrying six people from Yorkton was the last to arrive at 9:40 p.m. Passengers were serenaded with an amended version of "This Land is My Land" with the lyrics "this bus is my bus."

The Yorkton to Saskatoon route marked the end of STC's 71 year history.

 

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