Occupy Vancouver Protester Dies of Suspected Drug Overdose

Vancouver police at the Occupy Vancouver encampment after a woman in her 20s died of a suspected overdose Saturday. (Photo credit: Vancouver Observer)

A woman at the Occupy Vancouver camp died Saturday after being found in an “unresponsive” condition, police said. A Canadian protest organizer said it appeared to be the result of a drug overdose.

The cause of death has not been determined but there is no evidence of foul play, police said. Her death is likely the first to hit the Occupy movement.

In response to the woman’s death, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said he was ordering the protesters to be cleared out of the park, according to Canada’s CBC News.

“I have directed the city manager to expedite the appropriate steps to end the encampment as soon as possible with a safe resolution being absolutely critical to that,” Robertson said.

The woman in her 20s was found in a tent by another protester. Paramedics took her to a hospital where she was pronounced dead, Vancouver police said in a statement.

Lauren Gill, an organizer at the camp, said the woman apparently died of a drug overdose.

She said the death highlights the need for more addiction services because drugs are such a big issue in the city.

Gill, who is running as an independent in this month’s city elections, said that as an outreach worker in mental health and addiction services, she has seen far too many overdose deaths.

Occupy Vancouver Protester Dies of Suspected Drug Overdose

Protesters held a candlelight vigil for the woman, identified only as Ashely. Their signs said, "We are all Ashley." (Photo credit: Vancouver Observer)

Protesters held a candlelight vigil for the woman Saturday night, holding signs that said, “We are all Ashley” — the only identifying information that was released, the Vancouver Observer reported.

Gil described her as “a bright, energetic, beautiful, kind, passionate, artistic youth” and said she’d known her for several years.

Tensions seem to be growing at the site Saturday, where one television camera operator was knocked to the ground and some protesters began hassling reporters.

Fire Chief John McKearney ordered protesters to remove large tarps and take down tents after emergency personnel had difficulty getting accessing the site Thursday to help someone who suffered a non-fatal drug overdose.

The protesters initially rejected McKearney’s concerns about safety, but removed some tarps.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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