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(en) Canada, The Wobbly Dispatch - My Experiences Hopping a Freight Train by Adriaan Nikken

Date Wed, 21 Dec 2005 08:25:39 +0200

On June 27th, 2005, I was charged with "mischief without
legal justification or excuse and with out colour of right of
property, by willfully interrupting or interfering with the lawful
operation of a Canadian National Railway freight train by riding
upon it and causing it to make an unscheduled stop contrary to
section 430 (1)(c) of the Criminal Code of Canada." Since I am
currently living on a pretty low income, I was not in a position
to hire legal council, or able to be awarded legal assistance --
and, as I was not in danger of doing jail time, I was not in a position
to get legal aid; I was refused by both Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The camera that was said to have spotted me was on the
tower at the Unity Saskatchewan rail yard. Another train
passing the train I was on had also seen and reported me while
I was sleeping. The train had to stop in Unity to kick me off. It
was an unscheduled stop, and every stop the train has to make
can put the train at "potential risk." It became apparent in
court that the CN officials could have removed me at the next
scheduled stop, but it seemed that CN Rail was more
concerned with me getting away as opposed to the safety of
the train or of the people working for CN Rail. Perhaps this case
will lead to rail police forces having to apprehend "suspects" in
rail yards where scheduled stops occur. This could give folks
riding the rails better chances for getting away or at least
better hiding themselves.
The first point in my favour was that the police misspelled my
last name; however, the judge ruled that I obviously
understood that the misspelling was meant to be me. I should
have done more research around that issue, as it could have
turned out to be my greatest defence. Secondly, the RCMP
asked me to come with them to the station to find out what
CN Rail wanted done. I figured I had no choice but to go with
them; however, I was told in court that I could have walked
away. Regardless, considering CN Rail has their own police force,
why was Canadian tax money protecting a company that can
protect its own goods and property?
I did not steal or damage the train in any degree. Since I am a
resident care aide, a criminal charge could force me to get
another job, or possibly relocate (by train?). I was given
probation, 75 hours of community service, and can't be around
CN property for the term of one year or a criminal charge will
appear on my record.
During the Great Depression, hundreds of thousands of hobos
were riding the rails from one place to another in a desperate
attempt to find work, get to relatives, or simply explore. Their
strength was in numbers. Historically when people were caught
riding trains, those that were fined usually could not possibly
pay and were put in work camps. Here they were fed very little
and worked quite hard to "pay back" the debt to society, as if
somehow society was hurt because they were riding freight
trains. I suspect that railroad companies get many of their
employees because these people love the feeling of being on a
freight. Some people believe that people who hop freight
romanticize what it is like on a freight. All I needed was one
ride. Five hundred tons of rolling steel, the lights at night, the
scenery in the day, the vibrations, sounds, and memories...
If you would like more information, send me an email at
hvir3-A-yahoo.ca. See you out there.

* [Ed. Note: IWW - Industrial Workers of the World is antiauthoritarian
anticapitalist direct action syndicate.]

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