[Hpn] Fwd: OCAP update, July 27

Bonnie Briggs s248_1132@hotmail.com
Fri, 28 Jul 2000 06:54:36 -0700 (PDT)

Hi all,
  Here is a further update on the OCAP arrests. Their trial starts on Sept 

>        "The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty is the
>        political equivalent of poison ivy. In defence
>        of radical positions on poverty and homelessness
>        it constantly irritates almost everyone in
>        authority."
>        "This looks like an act of court-sanctioned
>        political repression."
>        Globe and Mail editorial, July 26, 2000
>  This unofficial report, dated July 27, 2:00 pm, on
>  charges resulting from OCAP's march on Queen's Park
>  on June 15 contains:
>  - update on charges and court appearances
>  - Globe and Mail editorial, July 26
>  - NOW magazine (Toronto) article, July 27
>  - Bob Olsen's comments
>  - two reports of support from Sudbury
>  Yesterday, July 26, OCAP organizers John Clarke, Gaetan Heroux
>  and Stefan Pilipa, appeared in court to set a date to set a
>  date for trial.  There next court appearance, I believe, will
>  be Monday, September 11, 9:00 am (although that seems to be
>  a bit early in the morning for Toronto courts), Old City Hall
>  courthouse, courtroom 111.
>  PJ Lilley is having her set date today, Thursday, July 27
>  and I do not yet know what has happened with that.
>  Stefan Pilipa was re-arrested on Monday night after he
>  attended an OCAP meeting.  Apparently his bail conditions set
>  by the court were that he not "associate" with OCAP or its
>  members.  However, the typed instructions that he was given
>  by the court clerk indicated merely that he was not to
>  associate with John Clarke and Gaetan Heroux.  Thus he
>  attended out meeting and was arrested.  Yesterday, the court
>  reaffirmed that he was not to associate with OCAP.
>  These bail conditions, which also apply to PJ Lilley, will
>  be appealed by OCAP lawyers Bob Kellerman and Jeff House as
>  soon as possible next week, possibly Thursday, August 3.
>  Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada's business newspaper)
>  The right to associate
>  The right to associate
>  The right to associate
>  The bail terms set for four members of a protest group
>  are unreasonable. Judges shouldn't stop people from talking.
>  Wednesday, July 26, 2000
>  The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty is the
>  political equivalent of poison ivy. In defence of
>  radical positions on poverty and homelessness
>  it constantly irritates almost everyone in
>  authority.
>  The irritation stems from OCAP's devotion to
>  political theatre. The group's arguments are
>  made not in debate but in dramatic and
>  television-oriented actions. If people don't
>  have places to live, OCAP leads a group to
>  break into empty buildings, or erects a tent city
>  in a city park. If it doesn't like government
>  policies, it leads demonstrations to legislatures
>  where argument is often translated into rocks
>  being thrown at the police and politicians being
>  roughed up by protesters.
>  The group's participation in one of these
>  political theatrics, a violent protest last month
>  at Queen's Park in which 42 officers and nine
>  horses were injured by bricks and Molotov
>  cocktails thrown by demonstrators, led to the
>  arrest of four leading OCAP members (among
>  others). They were charged with a variety of
>  offences, including assaulting a police officer,
>  possession of dangerous weapons and
>  counselling others to riot.
>  After their arrest, they were released under
>  strict bail conditions. They couldn't go near the
>  sites of previous demonstrations, or participate
>  in new demonstrations or marches. Given that
>  most of those arrested were already on bail or
>  probation for previous violent street-theatre
>  offences, the demand that they promise to
>  keep the peace in exchange for getting out of
>  jail seems fair. Bail is supposed to let people
>  remain free while their cases are wending
>  through the legal system. It is not a licence to
>  commit another offence.
>  However, the judge also included a more
>  Draconian provision. The four arrested OCAP
>  leaders were to stay away from one another
>  and from other members of their organization.
>  There may be some justification in demanding
>  that the accused confer with one another only
>  on legal matters. This has been ordered in
>  other cases. But the wholesale banning of all
>  interaction with anyone who is a member of
>  OCAP is noxious.
>  A judge is telling individuals -- who, it must
>  be pointed out, have yet to be convicted of
>  anything -- that they will go to jail if they
>  simply talk to other like-minded people. We
>  underscore the word "talk." This doesn't look
>  like an effort to ensure that OCAP leaders
>  don't commit new crimes. This looks like an
>  act of court-sanctioned political repression.
>  The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is definite
>  on this issue. It calls the right of association
>  a "fundamental freedom." Fundamental means it
>  cannot be swept aside simply because a
>  poison-ivy-like radical activist group
>  sometimes makes violent street theatre.
>  OCAP members should be allowed to talk freely
>  to one another, and any ban on their free
>  association should be immediately struck
>  down.
>   Copyright © 2000 Globe Interactive
>   http://www.theglobeandmail.com/hubs/national.html
>  NOW magazine, Toronto, July 27, 2000
>  http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/current/news.html
>  Prove it, cops
>  Prove it, cops
>  Prove it, cops
>  It will be tough to get charges against
>  John Clarke to stick in court.
>  By Scott Anderson and Leah Rumack
>  The police are throwing everything they've got at
>  abrasive poverty activist John Clarke. Laying
>  charges is one thing, but making them stand up
>  in court will be quite another, defence lawyers
>  tell NOW.
>  As well as charging the leader of the Ontario
>  Coalition Against Poverty with participating in a
>  riot, failing to comply with recognizance and
>  failing to comply with a probation order, the cops
>  also threw in counselling to commit an
>  indictable offence, marking Clarke alone as the
>  director of the demo that turned violent at
>  Queen's Park.
>  Then there are the court-imposed bail
>  conditions, which prevent Clarke and three
>  colleagues from associating with each other,
>  effectively shutting down the group's leadership.
>  But the cops are in for a tough court battle
>  before OCAP lies down. For starters, the group's
>  lawyers, Bob Kellerman and Jeff House, plan to
>  appeal the excessive bail conditions.
>  Other defence lawyers NOW surveyed also say
>  the charges of participating in a riot and
>  counselling won't be so easy to make stick.
>  The charge of participating in a riot has already
>  been struck down in Quebec court as
>  unconstitutional. Defence lawyer Clayton Ruby
>  says it's likely that same judgment could be
>  made about the broadly defined law here in
>  Ontario.
>  "(The charge) doesn't actually require that the
>  participation be one that advances the riot,"
>  Ruby says. "You can be half a mile away and
>  under the law as it stands you can be
>  participating in a riot."
>  As for Clarke's counselling charge, Osgoode
>  Hall law professor Allan Young suspects the
>  Crown is overcharging.
>  "(It suggests) their case is a little bit threadbare
>  when it comes to the actual participation in the
>  riot, because perhaps it's not clear who was
>  doing what and who instigated the riot and
>  whether or not there will be defences to the riot,"
>  he says. "So in order to hedge their bets to
>  ensure maximum coverage of the law, they go a
>  bit before the riot and presumably have evidence
>  that Clarke was encouraging people."
>  Young says the counselling charge is usually
>  dropped if the person is charged with carrying
>  out the crime -- which in Clarke's case is his
>  alleged participation in the riot.
>  "There may be an argument in law that once the
>  offence is committed, the counselling offence
>  has no further application," Young says.
>  Another question is whether the cops even have
>  enough evidence to go on if a court upholds the
>  media's decision not to hand over their photos
>  and video footage. The police pursuit of media
>  material suggests they don't have enough
>  evidence or, possibly, that they want to make
>  sure the media record won't contradict their
>  version of events.  (See Bob Olsen's comments
>  added below)
>  "We're seeking to see what information they
>  might hold," says police staff sergeant Fred
>  Ellarby. "We believe there's evidence involved in
>  those tapes."
>  In full spin mode, police chief Julian Fantino has
>  already branded the fiasco as "pre-meditated
>  violence" on the part of Clarke and OCAP. And
>  the conventional wisdom suggests that the
>  violent outbreak is hurting the homeless cause.
>  "It's being portrayed as more of an organized
>  protest by a professional organizer," says John
>  Wright, the senior vice-president at the polling
>  firm Angus Reid.
>  But others disagree and say the arrests may
>  turn more people on to OCAP.
>  "The police have overplayed their hand and
>  miscalculated," says York University political
>  science professor David McNally, a member of
>  the OCAP allies group that includes community
>  activists and unions. "This will allow us to bring
>  more people on board in defence of civil rights
>  and OCAP members."
>  Union support for OCAP is also solid. While the
>  unions have disagreed with some of OCAP's
>  tactics in the past, both the CAW's Buzz
>  Hargrove and CUPE's Syd Ryan say that while
>  they oppose violent protest, they will continue to
>  fund the group.
>  Opposition critics at Queen's Park, meanwhile,
>  aren't exactly running to Clarke's defence.
>  Liberal MPP Gerard Kennedy says he's not
>  buying the police version of events, but he has
>  reservations about the intent of the protest. "I've
>  got a big question mark about what the hell was
>  planned here," says Kennedy.
>  NDP leader Howard Hampton says his party has
>  always supported OCAP's aims and objectives.
>  "I don't always support the outcomes of what he
>  organizes," says Hampton, "but I recognize that
>  he's a very good organizer."
>  NDP bad boy Peter Kormos says that, while he
>  continues to support OCAP, many of his caucus
>  colleagues are turned off by their tactics.
>  "Many NDP caucus members are reluctant to
>  participate in OCAP events," he says.
>  The political blow that councillor Olivia Chow
>  took as a result of her comments about the
>  police tactics at the demo seems to have cast a
>  dome of silence over City Hall.
>  Jack Layton, however, says the court action
>  brought by the police is a waste of time and
>  money. He also believes the bail conditions
>  imposed on Clarke and other OCAP members
>  were excessive.
>  "I don't see any reason why such bail conditions
>  were even requested in the first place," he says.
>  "They've been out there talking about some of
>  the injustices in the street and we need to be
>  hearing about that stuff."
>  scottand@nowtoronto.com
>    Bob Olsen adds that a week prior to the June 15 event
>    Gaetan Heroux, one of the OCAP defendants, faced a
>    charge of Assault Police, resulting from a demonstration
>    against Mike Harris at the Air Canada Center during the
>    last provincial election.
>    The defence depended on the TV news reports which
>    contradicted the police testimony.  The Crown did not
>    want those TV news clips admitted into evidence.
>    Gaetan was acquitted on the basis of those TV clips.
>    Jack Layton talks about overpolicing.  PJ was arrested
>    on July 20. John, Gaetan and Stefan were arrested on
>    July 21.  On July 22 we had about 300 members and
>    supporters in attendance at Old City Hall courthouse.
>    There were perhaps 200 police officers there.  Two
>    groups of heavily armed riot squads, two groups of
>    mounted police, numerous uniformed officers, many
>    undercover officers in the crowd, a police intelligence
>    officer using a telephoto lense to take everyone's
>    picture and the head of the Toronto Police
>    Anti-Terrorist unit, Detective Steve Irwin directing
>    the whole show.
>    My guess is that this police show cost $100,000 -
>    $200,000.
>Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 13:05:29 -0400
>From: David Starbuck <starbuck@cyberbeach.net>
>To: toronto@tao.ca
>Subject: Hands off the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty!
>Hands off the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty!
>Statement of the Sudbury Coalition for Social Justice,
>July 26, 2000
>We are here today to express our firm support for the Ontario Coalition
>Against Poverty (OCAP) and for the demonstration it organized on June
>15th. We do this on the same day that OCAP organizers John Clarke,
>Gaetan Heroux, Stefan Pilipa and Patricia Lilley make their first
>appearance in court on charges laid against him for their commitment to
>organizing people against poverty. These charges and the restrictive and
>extreme bail conditions imposed on these activists are a frightening
>example of the growing criminalization of the democratic right to
>political protest that is taking place.
>We have been inspired over the years by the leadership and energy that
>the hundreds of activists in the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty have
>provided in the battle against poverty and in the battles against the
>right-wing policies of the Harris government. While the policies of the
>Harris government has made life much more difficult for people living in
>poverty, including here in Sudbury, OCAP has been organizing to defend
>the rights of poor people. The Harris government has organized a war
>against the poor. Its policies have led to social violence against poor
>and homeless people. OCAP in contrast has been on the front lines of the
>fight to end poverty and homelessness. OCAP has fought for the rights of
>many people living in poverty winning many small victories through its
>activist case work. We stand with OCAP in support of all the demands
>raised on June 15th:
>· restoring social assistance levels to what they were before the Harris
>· creating affordable housing
>· repealing the so-called Safe Streets Act which is being used against
>street people and people who squeegee.
>· repealing the pro-landlord so-called Tenant Protection Act.
>These demands have just as much relevance here in Sudbury as in Toronto
>which is why 16 supporters of the Sudbury Coalition for Social Justice
>went to Toronto and joined the June 15th demonstration. On June 15th
>when spokespersons for the poor and the homeless were denied the right
>to address the legislature that has been enacting policies against them,
>the police responded to the advance of the crowd with clubs,
>pepper-spray and charge after charge of mounted police. The demands of
>the poor and the homeless were met with police violence and arrests.
>Some demonstrators responded to these police attacks. Thousands of
>people were forced off of the lawn of Queen's Park and people were
>followed back to Allen Gardens where more arrests took place as people
>were picked off by the police. This was a police riot. This is why
>community groups and unions have called for a public inquiry into the
>conduct of the police on June 15th.
>Not satisfied with their own extensive surveillance of the demonstration
>the police have seized footage and photos from numerous media outlets in
>an attempt to identify other people to arrest. This attempt to force the
>media into becoming an extension of police surveillance has been fought
>by a number of media outlets.
>This past week six OCAP activists and organizers have been arrested more
>than a month after the June demonstration. John Clarke (who has spoken
>and given workshops on a number of occasions in Sudbury including at the
>Sudbury Days of Action against the Harris government), Gaetan Heroux,
>Stefan Pilipa and Patricia Lilley not only face severe charges they also
>face extremely restrictive bail conditions. These include conditions for
>some of them that prohibit them from associating with OCAP (John Clarke
>works for OCAP so this effectively cuts him off from his employment),
>with each other, and prohibits them from participating in demonstrations
>and from going near Queen's Park. These are a fundamental attack on
>their democratic right to freedom of association.
>Stefan Pilipa was arrested again Monday night when he simply attended a
>meeting of OCAP.
>These charges and bail conditions are an attempt to end the important
>work of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. These are political
>charges that are an attempt in a de-facto fashion to ban and criminalize
>a completely legal political organization that has been a thorn in the
>side of the Harris government. We call for the dropping of these
>charges. Failing this the restrictive bail conditions imposed on OCAP
>activists must be ended. This is an attack on all of all of our
>democratic rights. Everyone who fights against poverty and for social
>justice is threatened by this attack on OCAP. In this sense we are all
>members of OCAP.
>This attack on OCAP occurs in the context of a more general
>criminalization of political protest. At the protests against the
>Organization of American States meeting and its proposed Free Trade Area
>of the Americas in Windsor in June there was a massive police presence
>and nonviolent civil disobedience protestors were pepper-sprayed. At the
>Hamilton Air Show on June 17,  22 demonstrators were arrested for
>protesting the war planes that participated. Fifteen people were
>arrested walking down a public access road to the Air Show and seven
>people were arrested for praying in front of one of the warplanes. The
>fundamental democratic right to political protest is in danger of being
>lost if every time we try to exercise it we face pepper-spray, police
>violence, and criminal charges.
>We will do all we can in Sudbury to defend OCAP, to continue to oppose
>poverty and to defend the democratic right to political protest. As part
>of our support for OCAP we are raising funds for the legal defence of
>the arrested OCAP organizers and activists. Make cheques out to "OCAP"
>and send them to OCAP at 249 Sherbourne, Toronto, Ontario, M5A 2R5 or
>send them to the Sudbury Coalition for Social Justice at PO Box 1172,
>Station B, Sudbury, Ontario, P3E 4S8 and we will forward them to OCAP.
>Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 14:47:04 -0400
>From: David Starbuck <starbuck@cyberbeach.net>
>To: starbuck@cyberbeach.net
>The Sudbury Coalition for Social Justice took a very important stand in
>defense of the rights of all when they organized a “Sudbury Says: Hands
>Off OCAP” media conference at the OPSEU Sudbury regional office on July
>More than twenty trade unionists and social justice activists sat at or
>stood flanking the head table demonstrating the widespread support of
>the people in Sudbury for OCAP and their opposition to the attempt to
>criminalize people because of their political opinion.
>Gary Kinsman, of the Sudbury Coalition, chaired the media conference and
>read the Coalition’s statement “Hands Off the Ontario Coalition Against
>Poverty!” issued on this occasion.
>“This attack on OCAP occurs in the context of a more general
>criminalization of political protest”, the statement says and refers to
>events “in Windsor” and “at the Hamilton Air Show”.  “The fundamental
>democratic right to political protest is in danger of being lost if
>every time we try to exercise it we face pepper-spray, police violence,
>and criminal charges” the statement says.
>Cindi Foreman, of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Local 612, then
>read a CUPW statement “Hands Off OCAP!”  She was followed by Cate Burns,
>of the World March of Women, who gave the reasons why she had attended
>the June 15th demonstration.  Peter Slee of the Ontario Public Service
>Employees’ Union and Rene Fortin of the Canadian Union of Public
>Employees reiterated their unions’ support for OCAP and their experience
>with police violence.
>John Lewis, of the Sudbury Coalition, read a poem that he had written
>which was inspired by attending the June 15th demonstration.
>Dave Starbuck, Communications Officer for OPSEU Local 655, read
>“Affirming Our Rights, An open letter to the people of Sudbury and
>northern Ontario”.  This letter was signed by more than 30 northern
>Ontario activists and is a powerful condemnation of the criminalization
>of political opinion in Ontario and Canada.
>Dave also read a letter from the Sudbury Coalition to the lawyers of
>John Clarke, Gaetan Heroux, Stepan Pilipa and PJ Lilley, inviting one of
>them to visit Sudbury to address a rally on August 16 “In Defense of the
>Right of Political Protest” which the Coalition is organizing.
>The press representatives then asked a few questions.  These centred
>around whether OCAP was “violent” with one reporter begging the
>participants to give one example of where the demonstrators had “gone
>overboard”.  This was firmly rebuffed by the participants who stated
>that it was the Harris government and its police forces that were the
>source of violence in society.  The role of the “mainstream” media,
>including The Sudbury Star, in disseminating mis-information on these
>issues was also discussed.
>Gary Kinsman closed the conference by announcing that more than $300 had
>been collected in less than 30 minutes for the OCAP Defense Fund and
>that this money would be forwarded to OCAP and that the fundraising
>campaign was just getting underway.
>  Finally.......
>  Just to make it perfectly clear, this is not an OCAP report.
>  This is something that I put together on my own.
>  Bob Olsen, Toronto
>    .............................................
>    Bob Olsen, Toronto      bobolsen@interlog.com
>         Freedom is participation in power
>    .............................................

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