(eng)Canada: The Death of Robert Gentles (fwd)

The Anarchives (tao@lglobal.com)
Fri, 22 Nov 1996 17:07:15 +0000 (GMT)

)From THASSAN@TrentU.ca Thu Nov 21 11:22:32 1996

The Death of Robert Gentles

On October 24th, 1993, during a lockdown at Kingston Penitentiary, Robert
"Tex" Gentles was ordered to turn down his radio. When he demanded to
know why prisoners had not been fed in 21 hours, a six guard extraction
team entered his cell, when they left Robert Gentles was dead. Gentles had
been maced with four times the amount of mace authorized by Correction
Services of Canada (CSC) to subdue prisoners, he was beaten, pinned face
down on his bed and suffocated.

Gentles founding member of PVP

Robert Gentles was a founding member of the Prison Violence Project (PVP),
a prisoner based human rights group researching the causes of violence in
prisons. The PVP started in June of 1993, when five prisoners at Kingston
Pen came together as a reaction to violence observed in the prison. They
started the PVP because they believed that the high rate of physical and
psychological violence in prisons contributes to the violent crime
committed by prisoners upon release. The goal of the PVP was to "achieve
a reduction in violence and potential violence in prisons, thereby having
a direct effect on the reduction of violence in society."

Within six months of the initiation of the PVP, two of the project's
founding members had died. One year after the murder of Robert Gentles,
385 of the 400 prisoners in general population at Kingston Pen had signed
a petition demanding justice for Gentles.

On October 24th, 1994, the Inmate Committee issued a statement to the
general population after they were denied a r equest to hold a vigil in
the prison chapel. The statement said "The canteen and the committee are
not working tonight in support of the one year anniversary of the Gentles
case. The committee is looking for the support of the cons by not leaving
the ranges, in a quiet demonstration in support of our families who will
be picketing against Corrections Canada in support of the Gentles case."

One week after the quiet demonstration at Kingston Pen, the remaining
members of the Prison Violence Project were g iven involuntary transfers
to other institutions across Canada. By the winter of 1995 the Prison
Violence Project was officially banned by the Correctional Service of

The CSC Murder of Robert Gentles

Were it not for the tireless and persistent efforts of the Gentles family,
the murder of Robert Gentles would have been another covered-up prison
death. The guards refused to give the police detailed statements about the
killing. The Crown attorney insisted from the start that charges not be

Then-Attorney General Marion Boyd repeatedly refused to reconsider the
charges. Because of the whitewash, it took extensive investigations and
the efforts of the legal team of Julian Falconer and his associates to
uncover the truth before private charges of criminal negligence causing
death and manslaughter could be filed against the guards. This was the
first time in Canadian history that guards have ever been charged in
connection with the death of a prisoner.

However, charges against four of
the six guards were almost immediately stayed. Charges proceeded against
Sean Wiley and Barry Aitchison. Delay tactics were successful in eating up
all of the Gentles' legal funds, sabotaging the private prosecution and
leaving the Gentles family with no other choice than to allow the Crown to
take over the case.

With no real interest in prosecuting employees of CSC, the Crown withdrew
all charges against the remaining two guards in June of 1995. Carmeta
Gentles, Robert's mother, appealed the decision to withdraw the charges.
In June 1996 Judge Hurley denied the appeal to Carmeta Gentles to
privately prosecute the six Kingston Guards responsible for the death of
her son. Carmeta Gentles is now seeking an Inquiry into the Death of her

Urgent Appeal for the Justice For Gentles Campaign

Carmeta Gentles has spent thousands of dollars on legal expenses. She must
pay her significant legal bills before she can make another move through
the courts. "My son is gone, I miss him greatly. I still cry a lot
sometimes and I know that is not going to bring him back. But I have
always said 'if I can spare one mother the grief I have gone through and
am still going through then I would think my life is not in vain'." said
Mrs. Gentles.

c/o Canada Trust, King & Houston Street Branch, (Hamilton) Account #

Send Letters & Faxes to:

Mike Harris
Ontario Premier
Legislative Building R.
281 Queen's Park
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
phone: 416-325-1941 fax: 416-325-3745

Robert Runciman Solicitor General of Ontario
175 Bloor St E. #400 N Tower
Toronto ON M4W 3R8
phone: 416-326-5075 fax: 326-5085

Charles Harrnick
Attorney General of Ontario
720 Bay St Floor 11 Toronto ON M5G 2K1
phone: 416-326-4000 fax: 416-326-4016

For More information:

In Hamilton
Justice for Gentles Campaign
P.O. Box 57069, Jackson Stn.
Hamilton, ON L8M 4W9

In Peterborough
Anti-Colonial Action Alliance (ACAA)
#25, 197 Hunter St. W
Peterborough, ON K9H 2J1
email: thassan@trentu.ca

In Toronto
Anti-Racist Action-Toronto (ARA)
P.O. Box 291 Station B
Toronto, ON M5T 2T2
phone: 416-631-8835
email: ara@web.net

In Kingston
Justice for Gentles Campaign
62 Montreal St.
Kingston, ON K7K 1M9
phone: 613-541-1823

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