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(en) Canada, Toronto, Queen's Park police riot trial (An appeal to sign and circulate)

From Mick <mickblack47@yahoo.com>
Date Wed, 13 Nov 2002 03:44:06 -0500 (EST)


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Subject: queen's park police riot  (An appeal to sign and circulate)
From: "John Clarke" <johnclarke@sprint.ca>
Date: Sun, November 10, 2002 6:02 am

PLEASE CIRCULATE THIS APPEAL FAR AND WIDE 
DEFEND OCAP MEMBERS FACING 'QUEEN'S PARK RIOT' JURY TRIAL
(go to: http://www.ocap.ca/police_riot.html to view list of endorsers.)
      
We are asking that as many progressive organizations and
individuals as possible endorse this statement and show their
solidarity with our fight to prevent the criminalization of
community resistance in general and OCAP in particular.
      
Details of the defence campaign's work can be followed on the OCAP
website at http://www.ocap.ca/police_riot.html 

You can add your endorsement at: http://www.ocap.ca/addguest.html or it
can be e-mailed into ocap@tao.ca, phoned into (416) 925-6939 or faxed to
(416) 925-9681.  Donations can be sent to: OCAP, 517 College Street, unit
234, TORONTO, Ontario M6G 4A2


CIVIL RIGHTS ON TRIAL
An Appeal from the Queen's Park (Police) Riot Defence Campaign

Your support is urgently needed as the right of social justice
movements to organize political protest goes on trial this
January.
      
Three members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP),
John Clarke, Gaetan Heroux and Stefan Pilipa, will appear in a
Toronto courtroom beginning on January 13, 2003, charged with
'participating in a riot','counseling to participate in a riot,'
and 'counseling to assault police.' These draconian charges, which
refer to their participation in the June 15, 2000 anti-poverty
demonstration at Queen's Park, have been laid under some of the
most antiquated and regressive sections of the Criminal Code. Each
charge involves potential jail terms of between two and five
years.
      
The gravity of these charges poses a severe threat to the civil
and political liberties of all of us. That is why we have added
our names to the Queen's Park (Police) Riot Defence Campaign. We
urge you to add your name as well.
      
On June 15, 2000, OCAP led 1500 people to Queen's Park to protest
Tory cuts to social programs. Among the marchers was a delegation
of poor and homeless people demanding the right to address the
legislature. Rather than seek an accommodation, the government
responded with calculated intransigence, allowing riot police
(included a mounted unit) to attack the crowd in order to disperse
it. In the aftermath, police laid hundreds of charges against 45
protesters.
      
In one jurisdiction after another, the laying of hundreds of
criminal charges has become the latest tactic used by police and
authorities to squash political protest and dissent. We've seen
this strategy employed during the Seattle protests of 1999, the
Quebec City demonstrations of 2001, against housing activists in
Montreal and Vancouver and, most recently, during the World Summit
on Sustainable Development when hundreds of South African
activists protesting poverty and privatization were subjected to
mass arrests.
      
By imposing fines and jail terms on progressive movements, and by
tying up their energies and resources in legal battles,
governments and police forces are enforcing a 'tax on activism'
designed to debilitate struggles for social justice. So far, three
quarters of the charges laid as a result of June 15, 2000 have
been withdrawn or dismissed, evidence of what a legal defence
campaign can do to expose injustice. But the upcoming trial
represents yet another stage in the battle against repression of
social justice movements.
      
We cannot allow civil rights to be threatened, nor can we tolerate
a situation in which those who challenge poverty and homelessness
are criminalized. The January trial of these OCAP activists will
be a crucial test of our ability as progressive movements to mount
a meaningful campaign in defence of these three activists in
particular and of political freedoms in general. Moreover, as a
jury trial in which these activists hope to prove that the police
engaged in a planned riot against demonstrators, it offers a
unique opportunity to inflict a public defeat on the right-wing
agenda.
      
We call on all those committed to social justice and the rights of
political protest to join the Queen's Park (Police) Riot Defence
Campaign as it organizes petitions, rallies and press conferences
in support of these defendants. We urge you to add your name to
the campaign letter now. If we can contribute to the acquittal of
these activists, we will have struck a blow for social justice
everywhere.


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