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(en) Canada, Montreal, G20 Trial: An Open Letter from Jonathan, Christina and Jaggi

From montreal <montreal@dojo.tao.ca>
Date Fri, 18 Apr 2003 19:28:45 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

April 17, 2003 MONTREAL
Dear friends,
For the past two-and-a-half years -- ever since we participated in a
demonstration of more than 1000 people against the G-20 in Montreal on
October 23, 2000 -- we have been waiting, with some anxiety, to be judged
by a jury on the charge of "participating in a riot". For the past two
weeks, we've put our lives on hold as we sit in court, defending our
actions, and attacking the actions of police, at Montreal's Palais de
Justice. We are making our closing arguments next Tuesday, and expecting a
verdict sometime next week.

The trial experience has meant serious sacrifice and much hard work that
we'd prefer to dedicate to our activism and community work. Nonetheless,
the trial has also been an empowering process because of your support. We
are overwhelmed and grateful by the solidarity offered by those of you who
have taken the time to attend court in person, and the many of you who
have sent along your words of encouragement, in person, by phone, or by
e-mail. We are truly thankful for your solidarity.

As defendants in a jury trial for riot, we don't see this trial as being
about just three individuals. The G20 trial represents a clear attempt by
the Montreal police to escalate their legal intimidation of political
protesters by pursuing serious indictable charges, like riot, that can
result in prison sentences. For the past seven years, the Montreal police
strategy has been mass round-ups of protesters on the legally ambiguous
and relatively minor charges of "illegal assembly" and "disturbing the
peace". The riot charge against three activists -- not for their personal
actions, but for their visible presence at a demonstration -- represents
an attack on all of us engaged in street-level activism and vocal
community organizing.

We are well aware of the hundreds of people in Montreal who are facing
various charges in court for their activism and organizing, including 25
other co-defendants who are still facing G20 related charges in Montreal's
municipal court. Upcoming trials include anti-police brutality
demonstrators and activists, squatters, student organizers, Palestinian
solidarity activists, non-status persons who have been specially targeted
by the police, as well as communities of people who are targeted every day
by virtue of who they are -- indigenous people, the poor, sex workers,
street people and immigrant and refugee communities. As defendants who are
currently facing the legal system, we want to offer our solidarity to all
of you, and our appreciation for your struggles in court and beyond.

We would also like to offer a special word of support to John Clarke,
Gaetan Heroux, Stefan Pilipa and the members of the Ontario Coalition
Against Poverty (OCAP) in Toronto who have been in court for months, in
front of a jury, defending themselves against "riot" and "counseling"
charges for their effective and tireless organizing against poverty.
Gaetan and Stefan face up to two years in prison, and John faces up to
five years. We have sat in court for two weeks, and really can't imagine
what a trial that has taken months might be like. As we await our verdicts
next week, we wish you the best, and offer our sincere admiration for
OCAP's fights in the courts and on the streets.

Finally, we want to say that perhaps the greatest inspiration to us during
this whole process has been the fact that there continues to be inspiring
and effective activism and organizing for justice and dignity in Montreal,
Toronto and beyond. The best support all of you can offer us is to
continue to struggle and fight. Again, thanks to all of you, and see on
the streets again really soon.

In struggle and solidarity,

Jonathan Aspireault-Masse
Jaggi Singh
Christina Xydous

PS: If you want to send your words of solidarity and support to the G20
defendants, or offer a financial donation for expenses, just e-mail
montreal@tao.ca. If you live in the Montreal-area, we would really
appreciate your attendance in court on TUESDAY, April 22 at 9:15am (sharp)
for closing arguments. We need a packed courtroom! The trial takes place
at the Palais de Justice (Notre-Dame and St-Laurent, metro Place d'Armes),
in courtroom 3,11. For more info about the OCAP defendants, please consult
http://www.ocap.ca. For info about upcoming trials in Montreal that need
your support, consult the Collective Opposed to Police Brutality's
Judicial Calendar: http://www.tao.ca/~cobp/calendrier-judiciaire.html

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