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(en) Canada, Montreal Activist Arrest and Trial Calendar (2000-2005)

From la CLAC! <clac@taktic.org>
Date Mon, 24 Jan 2005 08:49:11 +0100 (CET)


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The calendar below outlines various protest-related legal battles that
have been fought in Montreal-area courtrooms (as well as selected cases in
Quebec City and Ottawa). The calendar was compiled by a few local
activists (and sometime defendants) who have been active in legal support
as part of groups like the Libertas Legal Collective and the
Anti-Capitalist Convergence (CLAC). The Activist Legal Calendar includes
various cases -- dating from 2000 -- that are both ongoing and resolved.
The calendar currently includes information related to 20 separate
protests or incidents.

The calendar reflects how the courtroom has become another terrain of
political struggle, as protesters collectively defend themselves against
the strategy of mass, targeted and bogus arrests by the Montreal police.
The calendar also reflects some significant successes inside the courts.
As protesters have had to deal with the courts more-and-more, they have
also become more knowledgeable and savvy about fighting back, including a
few individuals who have successfully represented themselves during the
court process.

You can help with court and trial support in various ways:

--> Attending trials in person, as a tangible way of showing solidarity
with protesters facing the legal system. There are at least a dozen
pending trials in Montreal, and your support in court is always
appreciated by the defendants. Please confirm trial dates and times with
the specific contacts below.

--> Donating to the various legal defense funds that have been set up to
help defray the costs of trials.

--> Helping out as a legal support person for an activist defense team
(you don't have to be a lawyer or law student, although if you are, get in
touch too!). There is always help needed with the various research and
preparation put into trials.

--> Contributing information to this Activist Arrest and Trial Calendar,
by providing us with updates about arrests and upcoming cases. The list
below is not comprehensive, so if you have additions (or corrections)
please get in touch!

In solidarity and struggle, inside the courts and on the streets!

-- la CLAC et Libertas
[Info: clac@taktic.org or libertas@taktic.org]
----------

-> Demonstration Against Police Brutality, March 15, 2000
[Mixed verdict after 18-week trial; Jail sentences overturned]

Over 100 people were arrested after being surrounded by police at the end
of an anti-police brutality demonstration where 1 police station, 2 banks
and 3 McDonald's were smashed. Many of these protesters, charged with
"participating in a riot" (an indictable offense), were part of a trial at
Superior Court that took up a total of 18 weeks of court time over 2
years, with 11 lawyers representing the accused at trial. In the end, 15
people were acquitted, while 41 accused were found guilty of participating
in a riot. All accused received sentences involving probation and
community service, but Judge Joseph Tarasofsky singled out two protesters
for a prison term of 15 months! However, the two individuals were released
after 1 week after their sentence was appealed. For more information, or
to help: cobp@hotmail.com or 514-859-9065


-> Anarchist March on Westmount, May 1, 2000
[All criminal charges dropped; Lawsuit launched against police and
municipal authorities]

Approximately 150 anarchists, who were marching on Westmount on Mayday as
part of a "déranger les riches dans leurs niches" ["bother the rich in
their niche"] demo, were chased and rounded up on the mountain by Montreal
riot police. All were charged criminally with offenses like "unlawful
assembly", "mischief" and "disturbing the peace". However, all criminal
charges were eventually dropped!

A class action civil suit has been launched against the police, Crown and
municipal authorities in relation to the mass arrest. The suit alleges
that protesters were wrongfully arrested and detained. The civil suit has
been accepted, and will go to trial in the coming months. For more
information about the lawsuit, contact mmbobov@yahoo.fr


-> Postering By-law Challenge, May 2000
[Constitutionality of postering by-law is being challenged; plead "not
guilty" if you get a ticket for postering]

One activist was stopped and ticketed for postering in May 2000 for the
1st Montreal Anarchist Bookfair. The individual pleaded "not guilty" and
decided to challenge the constitutionality of the city by-law that
prevents postering on poles, with the help of civil rights lawyer Julius
Grey. If the by-law is overturned, then postering will be permitted,
without fines, on public poles in Montreal. The case is currently on
appeal at Superior Court. If you are ticketed for postering in Montreal,
you are strongly encouraged to plead "not guilty" and wait until the
higher courts rule on whether the by-law preventing postering is legal or
not. The ruling will take a few years. For more information about the
postering challenge, contact clac@taktic.org or 514-409-2049.


-> G-20 Protest at the Sheraton Hotel, October 23, 2000
[Jury decides "not guilty"; Pro-cop judge decides "guilty"]

At least 1000 protesters demonstrated against the G-20 finance ministers
meeting in Montreal. Riot police, including police on horses, intervened,
and proceeded to arrest more than 30 protesters, many who were chased or
followed blocks away from the demonstration. Three protesters faced
serious charges of "participating in a riot", and had a trial in front of
a jury at Superior Court. After a three-week trial, the jury returned with
an emphatic "not guilty" verdict on April 23, 2003.

However, the three accused, along with 27 others, also faced lesser
charges of "mischief", "obstruction" and "disturbing the peace" at a trial
at Montreal's Municipal Court. After a trial that lasted 30 days spread
out over two years, Judge Louise Baribeau returned with a verdict of
"guilty" on all charges against all protesters on February 19, 2004.
Baribeau has a reputation as a pro-cop judge, and her ruling and conduct
at trial reflected those biases (Baribeau also found all demonstrators
guilty in relation to the Commando Bouffe protest of 1997). All sentences
against the accused are suspended while the ruling is appealed. For more
information : clac@taktic.org or 514-409-2049.


-> Quebec City Summit of the Americas Protests, April 2001
[Over 400 arrests; Four civil suits pending]

Over 400 protesters were arrested over a three-day period at the mass
protests against the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. There were
dozens of cases that went to trial, with a majority of protesters
receiving acquittals, or having their charges dropped. The Crown also
offered many deals to protesters, whereby criminal charges were dropped if
the defendant agreed to pay a fine. There are too many cases to recount in
this calendar. There are also four pending potential class action civil
suits in relation to the events in Quebec City. The suits are against the
police, government and municipal authorities. For more information,
contact the Libertas Legal Collective: libertas@taktic.org or
514-262-4746.


-> Anti IMF/World Bank Protests in Montreal, September 29, 2001
[82 arrests, but no one is found guilty; Civil suit is being considered]

At least 82 protesters were arrested at protests in solidarity with the
anti-IMF/World Bank protests worldwide. All charges were eventually
dropped against all but two demonstrators. Those demonstrators were found
“not guilty” at trial. A civil suit against the police is under
consideration. For more information: clac@taktic.org or 514-409-2049.


-> Demonstration Against Police Brutality, March 15, 2002
[Mass arrest of 371; Seven separate ongoing trials; Self-represented
protester is acquitted]

371 protesters were arrested en masse at the end of an anti-police
brutality demo. 102 people arrested were minors, and about half were
ticketed for a by-law infraction ("not dispersing"). To date, all minors
that have challenged their tickets have been acquitted. The adults who
were arrested were charged criminally with unlawful assembly. Legal aid
was denied to most protesters. One protester who defended himself was
acquitted. Eight other defendants were also acquitted at a separate trial.
There are seven other pending trials, including many others who are
defending themselves. Many defendants have accepted deals with the Crown
(to pay a $138 fine for a by-law infraction in exchange for an acquittal
on the criminal charge).

ONGOING TRIALS: There are seven separate trials, with dates throughout
2005. Please contact cobp@hotmail.com or 514-859-9065 for more info.


-> Anti-G8 Labour Minister's "Protest" in Montreal, April 26, 2002
[Judge declares all protesters "not guilty"; Class action lawsuit in
preparation against the police and city]

Between 300-400 protesters were surrounded in Dominion Square by riot
police before the demonstration against the G8 Labour Ministers could even
start. Approximately 150 tickets for "unlawful assembly" were issued.
Approximately 15 people were charged with criminal infractions. One
accused was acquitted on appeal, while another had his charges dropped.
Another protester pleaded guilty to assault (spitting on a police officer)
but she received an absolute discharge. At least five other activists are
still facing trial.

Approximately 115 people collectively challenged their tickets (by
pleading not guilty) and were found "not guilty" by Judge Massignani at
Montreal's Municipal Court. A class action lawsuit is in preparation
against the police and the city.

ONGOING TRIAL: A trial for 5 other activists, on charges of assault, began
in October 2004, and will continue on March 16, 17 & 18, 2005 at Municipal
Court. For more information: schtroumpf@cyberso.zzn.com or 514-845-1940.


-> Take the Capital Actions in Ottawa Against the G8, June 27-28, 2002
[Protester declared "not guilty"; another has charges dropped]

During the Take the Capital Actions in Ottawa (snake march on June 26, No
One Is Illegal march on June 27) there were a few arrests. At the
beginning of the snake march, a Montreal-area activist was arrested, and
faced three serious counts of assault, including assault causing bodily
harm. However, after a three-day trial in front of a judge, he was
declared "not guilty". Another Montreal-area activist who was arrested
during Take the Capital had his charges dropped. For more information:
clac@taktic.org or 514-409-2049


-> Seven Year Squat Arrests in Ottawa, July 3, 2002
[Jury deadlocked; All charges eventually dropped against self-represented
squatters]

During the Take the Capital Actions in Ottawa, a squat was opened by local
housing rights activists. After seven days, the squat was raided by the
police, including the SWAT team. 22 people were originally charged. Some
accepted deals, but 5 protesters defended themselves in front of a jury at
trial against serious charges of mischief, obstruction of police and break
and enter. Along with the Montreal G-20 Trial, and the Toronto OCAP 3
Trial, this was one of the few times that anti-capitalist activists argued
their case in front of a jury. After a more than two-week trial in October
2004, the jury returned deadlocked (ie. no verdict). Keeping in mind that
the 5 squatters argued the defense of "necessity" (ie. the necessity of
occupying unused building in the midst of a housing crisis), even a
deadlocked jury constituted an important victory. In the end, the Crown in
Ottawa decided against a second trial, meaning a clear legal victory for
the Seven Year Squatters. Moreover, the presiding Judge ordered the Crown
to cover the defense costs. For more information: 7yearsquat@ziplip.com.


-> Netanyahu Protest at Concordia, September 9, 2002
[Defendant acquitted of six charges before presenting a defense; Crown
alleges that Judge is biased in favour of protester]

Five people were eventually charged for their alleged involvement in the
anti-Netanyahu protest at Concordia. Four defendants pled guilty to lesser
charges. The remaining defendant, who is representing himself, elected for
a trial, which has so far lasted more than 12 days, spread out over almost
a year-and-a-half, since October 2003 at Montreal's Municipal Court. The
defendant was originally charged, more than four months after September 9,
2002, with 9 offenses (including conspiracy, obstruction, breach of
conditions). He has been acquitted of 6 charges, before even presenting a
defense, because of the lack of any evidence whatsoever. The trial
continues on the remaining three charges. However, the two Crown lawyers
(with the help of two private Concordia lawyers) are going to the Quebec
Court of Appeal (one step below the Supreme Court) to try to scrap the
current trial and start again in front of a new judge, because they claim
the current judge is biased in favour of the defendant! The Crown’s legal
maneuver is practically unprecedented.

ONGOING TRIAL: Trial dates have been set for April 2005, but supporters
are encouraged to get in touch for more information, or to help:
514-859-9023 or noii-montreal@resist.ca


-> Targeting of Palestinian Student at Concordia, March 11, 2003
[Hillel and Concordia behind racist charges against foreign student;
Student is acquitted]

Before the Netanyahu protest, Palestinian student-activists and their
supporters have been targeted by the Concordia University administration.
After the Netanyahu protest, many Arab students faced even more
discriminatory treatment. On March 11, 2003, while Hillel and Birthright
were tabling at Concordia, a senior member of Birthright was baiting a
Concordia student orginally from Nablus. During the argument, the
Palestinian student said, "I'll be famous in two years ... and you'll be
selling falafel." This statement was defined as "uttering a death threat"
by Concordia, and the police, since they believed that the Palestinian
student meant he wanted to be a suicide bomber! The bogus and racist
charge went to trial before one of the most pro-cop judges in Montreal,
Antonio Discepola. Nonetheless, after hearing from the Hillel and
Birthright witnesses, as well as from the Palestinian student, Judge
Discepola dismissed the charges.

For more information about this and other examples of the targeting of
Palestinians and Palestinian solidarity organizers, contact 859-9023 or
noii-montreal@resist.ca


-> Anti-War Breakaway March to American Consulate, March 22, 2003
[Charges dropped against majority of demonstrators; one trial pending]

9 Montreal-area activists charged with obstruction, unlawful assembly and
causing a disturbance after marching to the American consulate at the end
of a major anti-war march and being arrested by riot police. Charges were
dropped against 6 protesters, while two others accepted a deal (pleading
guilty to a by-law infraction).

ONGOING TRIAL: The remaining protester has insisted on a trial, and will
also pursue civil action against the police. For more information, or to
help: clac@taktic.org or 514-409-2049.


-> Non-status Algerians' protest as Immigration Canada in Ottawa, May 29,
2003
[Non-status Algerians brutalized with tasers in Ottawa; Trial continues in
February]

10 non-status Algerians and two supporters from No One is Illegal were
brutally arrested by a tactical squad from the Ottawa Police (4 men were
shocked with tasers, and several men were punched). They are charged with
simple mischief and are being tried in front of a judge. The trial is in
French. The trial has already lasted three weeks (in June 2004) and will
recommence in February 2005.

ONGOING TRIAL: The trial will continue on February 21-25, 2005 and
February 28 to March 4, 2005 at the Ottawa Court House. For more
information, or to help: contact No One Is Illegal at 514-859-9023 or
noii-montreal@resist.ca


-> Tent City at Parc Lafontaine, July 5, 2003
[Protesters receive unconditional discharge; Avoid trial in front of
pro-cop judge]

6 Montreal-area activists were charged with obstruction and unlawful
assembly, as well as ticketed with by-law infractions, for their
involvement at Tent City organized by CLAC Logement and the Comité des
sans-emploi. Their trial, in October 2004, was to be heard by the infamous
Judge Louise Baribeau at Municipal Court (see G-20 entry above). In the
end, the demonstrators accepted a plea bargain, whereby they pled guilty
to unlawful assembly, and in return were to receive unconditional
discharges. For more information, or to help: logement@taktic.org or
514-409-2049.


-> WTO Protests in Montreal, July 28, 2003
[Four trials to take place in 2005; Many protesters to defend themselves]

Approximately 238 people were arrested in a mass roundup by Montreal
police in the Green Zone and charged with "unlawful assembly". Minors
either had their charges dropped, or were ticketed, and have so far been
successful in challenging tickets in court. One protester who was charged
for breaching conditions was acquitted at Montreal's Superior Court in
April 2004. The remaining arrestees face charges of unlawful assembly. 2
protesters were also facing mischief and obstruction charges but they were
acquitted in November; their charges were dropped for lack of evidence.
One protester was charged after a bail hearing for "assault", when a
courtroom erupted in anger at the conditions being imposed by one judge on
a protester. In the end, the assault charge was dropped after a plea
bargain.

ONGOING TRIALS: There will be four separate trials for the protesters
still facing "unlawful assembly" charges: A French trial for local
protesters, an English trial for local protesters, an English trial for
protesters from Ontario to BC, and an English trial for protesters from
the USA and the Maritimes. All trials are at Montreal's Municipal Court,
and many protesters will be defending themselves. Two trials have begun,
and all trials will have dates throughout 2005. For more info, or to help:
contact Genevieve at schtroumpf@cyberso.zzn.com or 514-845-1940.


-> Kanehsatake Community Resistance to Imposed Policing, January 12-13,
2004
[Kanehsatake Mohawk community members facing serious charges in Canadian
courts]

24 members of the Kanehsatake Mohawk community were targeted for arrest
for opposing the imposition of outside policing by discredited Mohawk
chief James Gabriel. Everyone arrested has conditions which prevents them
from wearing masks, from being around people with masks, from contacting
James Gabriel, and from having weapons. Originally, 10 of the 24 people
arrested were banned from returning to Kanehsatake. The conditions were
challenged, and were overturned. All 24 are charged with participation in
a riot and the forcible confinement of police officers (which are
indictable offences).

ONGOING TRIAL: The case will continue in February 2005 at the St-Jerome
Courthouse. For more information: contact
kanehsatake_indymedia@sympatico.ca or 514-261-3256


-> Critical Mass Rides, April 30 and May 28, 2004
[First Critical Mass arrests in 11 years; tickets to be challenged in
court]

For the first time in 11 years, arrests were made at Critical Mass bike
rides. In April, one man was violently arrested, and many others ticketed.
On May 28, riders were stopped by up to 8 police cruisers at Ste-Catherine
and Aylmer. Most riders were given tickets for by-law infractions. Most
people with tickets plan to plead "not guilty" and to challenge their
tickets in court. For more information, or to help:
criticalmassmtl@resist.ca


-> Anarchist March in Westmount, May 15, 2004
[Anarchist march in Westmount results in arrests; Trial to begin in March
2005]

Approximately 22 people were charged with mix of unlawful assembly, breach
of conditions/probation and mischief, and some people were also ticketed,
during an anarchist march on Westmount this past May.

ONGOING TRIAL: Trial dates have been fixed for March 7-11, 2005 at
Montreal's Municipal Court. For more information, or to help: contact
Jared at 262-4746 and jared@resist.ca


-> Anti-capitalist March against the Liberal Party Convention, November
19, 2004
[Another mass arrest; protesters again ticketed for “unlawful assembly”]

At least 182 people were arrested and ticketed for "unlawful assembly"
during a march against the Liberal Party Convention in Montreal. One
protester was also charged criminally with assault. A large number of
demonstrators will be challenging their tickets, and a trial date will be
forthcoming. For more information or to help, contact: clac@taktic.org or
514-409-2049.


--> Two Important Appeals, December 1997 and February 1998

As the cases above make clear, it is a common strategy for the police to
use ambiguous charges like "unlawful assembly" or "disturbing the peace"
in order to round up demonstrators on the slimmest pretext. These kinds of
arrests pre-date the first calendar entry above, and convictions from
previous cases are still being appealed. For example, the Conseil du
Patronat convictions (related to an occupation on February 11, 1998 when
70 people were arrested and 57 charged and convicted of unlawful assembly
and mischief) is at the Quebec Court of Appeal. Also, the Commando Bouffe
convictions (related to the anti-poverty protest at the Queen Elizabeth
Hotel on December 3, 1997) are being appealed. For more information:
clac@taktic.org or 514-409-2049.


[NOTE: This arrest and trial calendar is not comprehensive. If you have
information, please let us know.]

If you want more info about the cases above, or would like to help as a
supporter, please get in touch:

CLAC
tel: 514-409-2049
e-mail: clac@taktic.org

AND

Libertas
tel: 514-262-4746
e-mail: libertas@taktic.org

=========================
* CLAC is an antiauthoritarian anticapitalist initiative


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