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(en) Canada, Resistanace on Trial: OCAP Jury Trial Begins - Week One

From Mick <mickblack47@yahoo.com>
Date Mon, 20 Jan 2003 16:29:55 -0500 (EST)

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

> From: OCAP <ocap@tao.ca>
Jury Trial Begins.
Three OCAP members, Stefan Pilipa, Gaetan Heroux and John Clarke are
presently going through a months long jury trial. The first two are
charged with 'participating in a riot' and John with 'counseling to
participate in a riot' and 'counseling to assault police'. These charges,
which were laid after the June 15, 2000 March on the Ontario Legislature
that OCAP organized, carry maximum penalties of between two and five years
in prison. The Crown alleges the three OCAP members to be leaders of a
'planned riot' at Queen's Park on that day. OCAP maintains that it sought
to organize a militant demonstration that demanded the right of a
delegation affected by homelessness to address the Legislature on June 15.
If a riot did occur, it was caused by an arrogant and intransigent
Government and a heavy handed and incompetent police force. It was these
factors that provoked a confrontation. As this important trial unfolds, we
will provide regular updates.


On the eve of the trial, OCAP held a public meeting at the Ontario
Institute for Studies in Education. The main auditorium was filled with
roughly six hundred supporters. The main speakers were Shayesteh
Mohammadian, an OCAP member and one of the dozens of other people who have
already faced trials over charges laid around June 15, Judy Rebick from
Rabble, Jaggi Singh from CLAC and John Clarke. Gaetan and Stefan spoke
from the body of the hall to avoid any allegations of breaking bail
conditions that place a ban on association between the three accused. All
three received standing ovations from the large audience.

During the speeches, tribute was paid to all the courageous men and women
who stood firm in the face of attack on June 15 and who have been dragged
through the Courts since. Homeless people who were there that day have
paid the toughest price for their resistance. One young man, James Semple,
spent seven months in the Don Jail before he was even able to make bail.
With regard to the present jury trial, speakers outlined the severe attack
on civil rights and social resistance that such draconian and selectively
laid charges signal. A telling comparison was made to Valleyfield, Quebec
in 1946, when police used tear gas on striking textile workers and
community supporters and provoked a battle. Riot charges were then laid
against Kent Rowley, a union organizer. The Valleyfield strike was a
turning point in resistance at that time and June 15 will come to be seen
in the same light.

Remembering the homeless who had died because of the actions of the Tory
Government (including the recent loss of deeply loved and respected
homeless activist Brian Boyd), it was stressed that these charges and all
others that have been laid against us have not and will not intimidate us.
With the momentum of support around this case already powerful, it is
clear that this ugly attempt to criminalize and silence OCAP has already
failed. We will mount a strong legal defence and may very well gain not
guilty verdicts for our three members but, whatever the result, we will be
larger, stronger and more determined at the end of the proceedings.


Reports on the first two weeks or so of the trial will be simple and
concise. We are into an initial phase of pre trial motions. Lawyers are
calling for charges to be set aside on various grounds, for the right to
put certain questions to potential jury members, for more disclosure of
evidence, etc. Legal rules make it impossible for the media to report on
this phase until the jury is sitting and the arguments can be seen as a
little dull. It will be in the first part of February that this will
change. We ask our supporters to use this respite period to go to
organizations they are part of and build support for the struggle that
lies ahead. There will be lots of days when we want to fill the courtroom
and rally on the steps outside. There will be much need for expressions of
public support. Even at this early stage, anyone with some time to
contribute is welcome and encouraged to drop by and sit in on the
proceedings. We are there every day from 10.00 AM to 4.00 PM at 361
University Avenue, courtroom 2-8.

A few days after the March on Queen's Park a major gathering of senior
police officers was told that they had an assurance from the head Crown in
Toronto that this matter would 'go all the way to 361'. A month before the
three OCAP 'leaders', were picked up, plans for just such a jury trial as
is now unfolding were in the works. We are ready to meet this challenge
but we need your support and we need your solidarity. It is the Tories and
their corporate backers who are the real criminals. They will not silence
our resistance!

For more information, contact us.

		   Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
	517 College Street, Suite 234  Toronto, Ontario  M5G 4A2
	     416-925-6939   ocap@tao.ca   www.ocap.ca

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