[Hpn] further updates on OCAP arrests

Bonnie Briggs s248_1132@hotmail.com
Tue, 10 Jul 2001 19:55:23 +0000

Hi guys,
  Here is more information on John Clarke's release from 25 days of custody.

Several reports on the release of John Clarke,
OCAP Provincial Organizer, July 9

       (The judge)  Mr. Justice Patrick Sheppard said
       ``the JP (Justice of the Peace) has misunderstood
       and misapplied the . . . Criminal Code.''

      ``The crown (prosecutor) has some fundamental
       weaknesses in this case,'' Sheppard said. ``I see
       no reason at all to keep Mr. Clarke in custody.
       It's a virtual injustice to do such a thing.''

Date: Mon, 9 Jul 2001 22:07:09 -0400 (EDT)
From: Ontario Coalition Against Poverty <ocap@tao.ca>
Subject: John Clarke Released from Prison - July 9, 2001
Sender: ocap@tao.ca
Reply-To: ocap@tao.ca


OCAP organizer John Clarke was released on $35,000 surety from the Whitby
jail at 5:30pm this evening.  After hearing arguments from lawyers Peter
Rosenthal and Howard Morton, an Ontario Superior Court judge told a
courtroom of supporters and media that "it would be an injustice" to keep
the OCAP leader in custody until trial - some six months away.

The decision rested on the flimsiness of the evidence presented by the Crown
at the preliminary bail review, and the strength of the sureties
guaranteeing John's integrity.  The sureties were David Kidd, Cathy Crowe,
David McNally, David Holchanski.

The charges were a result of an action to evict Finance Minister Jim
Flaherty's office by OCAP on June 12th of this year.

John spent twenty-five days in the Whitby Jail. He reported the conditions
to be crowded and dirty, in what he called "one of the many warehouses for
poor people operated by the Harris government." During his time there, he
was able to talk with fellow inmates about the situation in Ontario.  Many
prisoners voiced their support of OCAP's work.

OCAP member Sean Lee-Poppam remains in jail tonight and is scheduled to
appear in the Whitby court at 10am Monday July 19th.

Despite his difficult legal position, John emerged from the courthouse with
a renewed commitment to the fight against the Harris government and a firm
confidence in the capabilities of the organization to carry forward its plan
of economic disruption this fall.

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
249 Sherbourne Street, Toronto, Ontario   M5A 2R9
416-925-6939   ocap@tao.ca   www.ocap.ca

Toronto Star, July 10, 2001

Poverty activist released from jail

Judge finds it an `injustice' to keep Clarke in custody

Social activist John Clarke went home last night to spend time with his
family and have a cold beer.

After 25 days in the Whitby jail, the paid leader of the Ontario Coalition
Against Poverty was granted bail yesterday in the amount of $40,00 after a
judge overturned an earlier decision by a justice of the peace to keep him
in custody.

Wearing the same blue jeans and tattered golf shirt he was arrested in on
June 15, Clarke, 47, walked out of the Superior Court in Whitby to a crowd
of cheering supporters.

``It feels good to get out,'' Clarke said.

At a bail review hearing yesterday, Clarke's lawyers, Peter Rosenthal and
Howard Morton, argued that their client should not be detained on
allegations stemming from the trashing of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's
constituency office a month ago. They told the court Clarke agreed to stay
away from all demonstrations and would not be a danger to the public.

Clarke - who was out on bail at the time of the Whitby incident and faces
charges relating to a riot at Queen's Park a year ago - was one of 19 people
charged following the melee at Flaherty's office.

He was denied bail June 29 by justice of the peace Robert Harris.

In his ruling yesterday, Mr. Justice Patrick Sheppard said ``the JP has
misunderstood and misapplied the . . . Criminal Code.''

The allegations should not be taken lightly, he noted.

``The crown has some fundamental weaknesses in this case,'' Sheppard said.
``I see no reason at all to keep Mr. Clarke in custody. It's a virtual
injustice to do such a thing.''

As conditions of the bail, Sheppard said Clarke must not participate in any
demonstration, must stay away from constituency offices unless he has a
scheduled meeting in writing, and stay away from Durham Region and Queen's

The coalition now plans to help another OCAP member, Sean Lee-Popham, fight
his detention on charges arising from the incident in Flaherty's office.

Copyright 1996-2001. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited.

Toronto Star, July 10, 2001

John Clarke is hardly a terrorist
Thomas Walkom COLUMNIST

ELEVEN DAYS ago, John Clarke of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty was
taken to an Oshawa courtroom in handcuffs and shackles. He was accused by
crown prosecutor Cindy Johnston of taking part in "an act of terrorism." He
was initially denied bail by a local justice of the peace, a ruling
overturned only yesterday by a superior court judge.

What was this act of terror? Clarke is not charged with planting a bomb. He
is not charged with using a firearm, smuggling weapons or conspiring to
assassinate anyone.

He is not charged with arson, attempted murder or assault. He is not even
charged with resisting arrest.

Rather, he is charged with mischief, unlawful assembly and causing a
disturbance by shouting. He is also charged with breaking two previous bail
conditions imposed on him after a protest last year at Queen's Park.

To Howard Morton, it seems a bit much to equate the occupation of a
politician's office with, say, car bombings in the Middle East.

Morton is a lawyer and former head of the province's special investigations
unit (the body that looks into all serious injury or death involving
police). He helped Clarke's lawyer, Peter Rosenthal, in yesterday's appeal.
He was also present at the initial bail hearing and says he was appalled by
the crown attorney's language.

"To call what Clarke is alleged to have done `terrorism' either shows a
total naiveté of what terrorism really is or shows a motivation to portray
this in the media as far more than it really was," Morton says.

"That was the most disturbing element of the entire bail hearing. ... It was
not only unfair to Clarke; it was really unfair to OCAP. All you hear about
are their acts of theatre (the protests). But they do so much other good
work in this city.''

Morton admits he has trouble convincing even his neighbours of OCAP's
virtues. Perhaps that helps explain what, to me, has seemed quite bizarre -
the way this entire episode has been dealt with (or not dealt with) in the
broader public arena.

A man charged with causing a disturbance by shouting was dragged into court
in chains like some kind of Charles Manson and denied bail - yet almost no
one seemed to find this odd.

Clarke's initial bail hearing got barely a mention in most media. The Globe
and Mail, to give it credit, devoted more space. The Globe also published an
opinion piece by author Judy Rebick sympathetic to Clarke. (Interestingly,
the reaction of The Globe's readers, if their letters to the editor are any
indication, was to trash Rebick.)

Compare this to the way the media, and the public, dealt with a similar
incident this spring. Following the protests at Quebec's Free Trade Area of
the Americas Summit, a young man named Jaggi Singh was arrested, jailed and
denied bail for 17 days.

Charges against Jaggi Singh were more serious than those levelled against
John Clarke.

Singh was accused of participating in a riot and possession of a dangerous
weapon. The fact that this weapon, a catapult, was used only to lob stuffed
teddy bears at police may well be irrelevant in law. A switchblade can be
deemed dangerous even if the owner insists he uses it only to slice bread.

Like Clarke, Singh was also charged with breaching previous bail conditions
imposed from previous arrests. Unlike Clarke, he was not brought into court
handcuffed and shackled.

But Singh became a cause célèbre. He was featured on the front pages of
newspapers. His plight made the evening television newscasts. In a
strongly-worded editorial - headlined "Jailed for what?" - The Star
chastised the authorities for trying to hold this "avowed provocateur"
without bail.

I don't mean to belittle Singh. Like my friends on The Star editorial board,
I thought it absurd to keep him in jail for 17 days without bail on those
particular charges. But then I think it absurd to keep Clarke in jail for 25
days (he was arrested June 15) on far less serious charges.

Why do the media and much of the public seem to like Singh, an articulate
young anarchist who believes in directly confronting authority, while at the
same time demonizing Clarke, an articulate middle-aged Marxist who believes
in directly confronting authority?

As an articulate Marxist, Clarke would probably have an answer to that. My
own guess is that there is also some social pathology at play here.

Singh's protest was against corporate-ruled free trade, an issue, which,
while important, is abstract enough that it can be ignored.

Clarke and OCAP protest on behalf of the visible poor, people we must see
even though we would prefer not to. The poor make us feel bad. Better that
their advocates are kept handcuffed, shackled and in jail.

Who cares what the charges are? Throw away the key.

Copyright 1996-2001. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited.

Web Posted | Jul 10 2001 9:58 AM EDT

OCAP leader released from jail

WHITBY - A leading organizer of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty spent
last night at home, for the first time in almost a month.


John Clarke was released on $40,000 bail from the Whitby Jail late Monday
afternoon, after 25 days.

Clarke was charged three days after a protest at the finance minister's
office. His arrest was based on a photograph of a man with debris around 

Superior court judge Patrick Sheppard said to keep Clarke in jail any longer
would be an injustice.

Some of the bail money has been put up by two university professors.

Attached to Clarke's bail are several conditions he has to abide by. He has
to stay away from Queen's Park and the constituency offices of politicians.
He also can't attend any demonstrations.

Clarke says he'll soon be back to work at OCAP, though it will have to be
more low key.

When he was arrested last month, Clarke was already facing charges relating
to last year's confrontation at Queen's Park.

Copyright © 2001 CBC All Rights Reserve

Date: Mon, 09 Jul 2001 22:02:12 -0700
From: David McNally <dmcnally@YorkU.CA>
Subject: Re: John Clarke released

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

In an overwhelming ruling, an Ontario judge today released OCAP organizer
John Clarke on bail. Saying the crown's case had "fundamental weaknesses,"
Justice Shepherd of the Ontario Superior Court ruled that there were "no
grounds" for denying bail to Clarke, who had spent 25 days behind bars in

Until outstanding charges from two cases are heard, John will be required to
stay away from demonstrations. But he is entirely free to do any and all
other work on behald of OCAP. John was released on $40,000 in surety
provided by Cathy Crowe, David Hulchansky, David Kidd and David McNally, in
addition to a portion for which John himself is responsible.

This is an important legal victory for OCAP, for civil rights, and for
progressive forces across the province and beyond. It also puts another OCAP
organizer back in the field in the build-up to the fall campaign. Thanks to
all OCAP supporters who have helped sustain pressure around this case.

There is one more OCAP member in jail, Sean Lee Popham, whose bail review
will be heard next Monday. I will update you once we have a ruling on his

In solidarity -- David McNally

Bob Olsen, Toronto   bobolsen@interlog.com

Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com.