(en) I am out

Jaggi Singh (jaggi@vcn.bc.ca)
Fri, 28 Nov 1997 05:17:29 -0800 (PST)

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[Hello everyone -- I got out of detention today (Thursday) at about 3pm, a couple of hours after a court hearing in Richmond. What follows is just a bare bones account about what happened to me from November 24th onwards. More details about APEC-related protests and upcoming activities are sure to follow. My genuine thanks to all of you who expressed concern and outrage about what happened.]

At appoximately 12:15pm on Monday, November 24th,, I was walking from Brock Hall to the Student Union Building (SUB) on the UBC campus. A panel on corporate globalization was just finishing up in Brock Hall and I was heading over to the SUB to get more speakers for the upcoming speak-out. This day was APEC ALERT's teach-in and speak-out entitled "Free University" which I helped to organize.

I was on a real intellectual high, having just heard three stirring speeches from Aziz Choudry and Jane Kelsey of New Zealand and Norman Carnay of the Asian Students Association. I was especially moved by Norman's eloquent remarks about the need for solidarity between militant students and youth across the Asia-Pacific. Moreover, I was really stoked at how successful the Free U had been so far. Hundreds were crammed into our teach-in sites, and crowds were sure to grow as the day progressed.

I was on a walkie-talkie on my way to the SUB. I told my good friend Victoria, who was at our Democracy Village Tent City, that I was headed to the SUB to get more speakers. Just about thirty seconds later, at the steps of the SUB, three men in suits said my name. They grabbed me and pushed me to the ground quite violently, saying I was under arrest. They did not show badges, nor their IDs. I resisted their attempts, but I'm not very strong physically, nor am I a violent person. My hands were wrenched behind my back and cuffed tightly. I was trying to scream for help, but my mouth was covered by someone's hands. An unmarked car screeched onto the scene and I was thrown into the back head-first. I was laying on the floor of the car for what seemed like minutes as the car screeched off, with two people in the front. One of these men yelled, "Go, go, go! Let's get the fuck out of here!"

While on the ground, before being put into the car, I caught a glimspe of SFU instructor and friend Bob Everton, who was trying to intervene. He was being stopped by someone in plainclothes. I have since learned that in addition to the three men who grabbed me, there were at least two others who were keeping passers-by from intervening in what most likely looked like an abduction to them. In all, there might have been up to seven men, ALL in plainclothes, who were there to carry out their nabbing. According to Bob, the car that was used to take me away was unmarked and had tinted windows.

In the car I lay head down, hands cuffed tightly behind my back, for what seemed like minutes. I was crying out of incomprehension. The car eventually stopped for a moment, and I was allowed to sit up. I immediately demanded to know what was going on. The two plainclothes men in the car were suddenly nice to me. They showed me their badges, indicating they were from the RCMP, and said they were carrying out an arrest warrant.

I want to make it clear that what these men did to me was NOT an arrest in any legal sense of the word; it was a NABBING executed by men who could not be readily identified as peace officers and acted violently and without notice.

I asked to see the arrest warrant and was shown a document which said that I was to be charged with the assault of an officer named Goodrich in an alleged incident that occurred on November 7th (17 days before the warrant was executed). I couldn't even recall the incident until later while at the Richmond jail. The incident refers to me using a megaphone loudly at the officer in question -- a UBC campus security guard -- and, hence, engaging in assault during a protest at the Atrium, site of the APEC Leaders' luncheon on November 25th.

The assault charge is specious and outrageous, which I look forward to proving in court, IF the Crown dares to go to trial. If the officer in question felt he was assaulted, why did he wait for more than two weeks before laying a charge? Why wasn't a charge laid immediately or within a few days? Why was the warrant issued in the cloak and dagger circumstances that it was? Why wait until the day before APEC?

I have my own answer to these questions: A dubious charge was concocted and selectively executed by the RCMP on the day before the major anti-APEC demonstrations on campus to keep me from participating and organizing. I am actively involved with a variety of groups, including APEC ALERT and the East Timor Alert Network, who were planning actions against APEC.

For the record, I NEVER aimed a megaphone directly at an officer's ears on November 7th or any other time. Furthermore, I have never before been charged, let alone tried, of a violent crime like assault. Finally, for the record, I have no criminal record (not something I'm necessarily proud of) nor ANY convictions. Somehow, my long record of peaceful protest supposedly changed on November 7th when I spoke in a megaphone too loud within earshot of a campus security officer.

I was driven to the RCMP detachment at UBC by the nabbers. While driving there, I told the plainclothes RCMP officers in the car repeatedly that their "arrest" was unlawful and unprofessional. Sometime during the ride, at least 5 minutes after the nabbing, I was read my rights.

I was booked into the UBC detachment. While in the middle of a strip search, I heard on the police radio that students in the SUB were in an uproar about the nabbing. At that point, Staff Sergeant Plante of the RCMP ordered his uniformed officers to take me to the Richmond detachment immediately.

At Richmond, I demanded to speak to counsel, which I was not able to do at UBC. I was on the phone for at least half-an-hour, leaving messages with as many friends I could, my lawyer as well as talking to a campus reporter at UBC and an APEC ALERT member.

I was put in a holding cell at the Richmond courthouse, but was soon taken to court before Judge Fratkin. In court, the Crown described, in an exaggerrated manner and without regard for the facts, the supposed assault of November 7th. I represented myself. I was not allowed to answer the charge at-hand, but only to answer to the conditions for my release from custody. They were that I stay away from Officer Goodrich and that I not go to UBC until my trial date. I immediately agreed to the first condition, but argued that the second was excessive and simply a shameless attempt to keep key organizers away from APEC protests at UBC. Judge Fratkin, who earlier upheld a condition of release preventing protest at the Atrium by two other APEC ALERT members, was predictably not receptive the my arguments. I agreed to the condition of release, and was let go soon afterwards. I NEVER intended to stay away from UBC and signed the condition fully intending on breaking it.

I was met by five APEC ALERT supporters at the courthouse. They drove me to a vegetarian restaurant in Kitsilano near UBC. There I was picked up by another APEC ALERT member and driven to UBC. I hid out in the back seat of the car to prevent being "spotted" by the multitudes of police who had turned UBC into a virtual military zone. I had planned to engage in an affinity action that evening with two other APEC ALERT members, Jill and Aiyanas, and I wasn't going to let RCMP intimidation get in the way. There was a crowd of about 200-300 students at the flagpole near the security zone. Aiyanas, Jill and I, carrying paint and paintbrushes, entered the security zone. We intended on expanding our APEC FREE ZONE, which APEC ALERT had been slowly enlarging since September, around the Museum of Anthropology, site of the APEC Meeting the next day. Before our action, I ripped up my condition of release paper.

As soon as entering the security zone, all three of us were arrested. I was manhandled by at least three officers, and resisted attempts to arrest me for participating in a non-violent protest. I was cuffed, put face down on concrete, and eventually put in a police van with Aiyanas and taken to the UBC RCMP detachment again. This all occurred around 5:30pm. I was not able to see everything around me while being arrested, but police dogs were present and, apparently, one bystander was bitten. The campus paper estimates that at least 75 uniformed police were visible at the scene.

At the RCMP detachment, I was again jailed and charged with breach of an undertaking. I would spend the night in jail at UBC.

The next afternoon (Tuesday), I was before Judge Fratkin again in Richmond -- this is while more than forty demonstators were being brought in to the jail for the "Crash the Summit" demo against APEC. Fratkin said that I had "basically given a finger to the law." I said that indeed I did, but that the law was conniving, with the Crown and RCMP, to prevent effective protest against APEC. It was the courts that first "gave the finger" by preventing peaceful protests via unreasonable conditions of release. Of course, APEC ALERT could appeal to higher courts, but this would effectively rule out APEC protests until after a timely appeals process, when the Summit was over. Moreover, the nabbing of me the day before had nothing to do with the law.

Fratkin ordered the same condition of release. I told him, in all honesty, that I could only agree to stay away from UBC after 6pm on Tuesday, when APEC was over. Fratkin ordered me to be held in custody until trial, with a hearing to determine my trial date for alleged assault on Thursday, November 27th.

I was taken from Richmond to the Vancouver Pre-Trial Detention Center on the Eastside in leg irons and cuffs. I was detained there for two nights. I won't begin to describe jail, except to say that my anarchist-inspired beliefs on jails and prisons, and the need to abolish them, have only been strengthened ten-fold.

On the morning of the 27th, I went before another judge, whose name I can't recall, in Richmond. I was represented by APEC ALERT lawyer, Ali Yusuf. It was argued that my continued detention was not necessary. The Crown, however, insisted on the same conditions of release. The judge, was quite frank in saying that it did not make sense to keep me away from UBC since APEC was over (admitting openly the strategem of the Crown, courts and RCMP all along). I was ordered released (I would have to wait in jail about three more hours though), with the only condition being that I stay away from Goodrich, a condition I never had a problem with (except in that the assault charge itself is without grounds). The trial date is set for September of 1998.

At this point, I'm dealing with a lot of work and documentation which relates to the multitude of activities and events that have occurred in the last week or so. As well, I will most certainly bring a charge against the RCMP for unlawful arrest for their Monday nabbing.

Glad to be out! Thanks for your support! Let's keep on resisting and building! Peace.

-- Jaggi Singh November 27, 1997

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