Reclaim The Streets: Toronto arrestees' court date Wed 20th FWD

Tom Boland (
Wed, 20 May 1998 10:19:27 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  CC Replies to David Fingrut <>
     sent 17 May 1998 to A-Infos News Service

Hi everyone - I just recently returned from court where some 2 dozen
activists came down early on a warm Sunday morning to show support for the
four arrestees at the Toronto Reclaim the Streets.

Gregory Herrington is being held until the next court date, which will take
place this coming Wednesday May 20 at 10am in room 101 of Toronto Old City
Hall, located at Queen and Bay St. Greg seemed in rough shape: his arm was
put in a cast, and he was going to the hospital later today.

Everyone in Toronto who made it out to yesterday's Reclaim the Streets -
including the 300 people who remained for the rest of the afternoon at
Christie Pits to drum, dance and celebrate - should come down to court
Wednesday morning to show their solidarity with Greg and the other three
arrestees, who will be legally represented by Clayton Ruby.

Darren O'Donnell was released around 12:30 am Sunday, which was a few hours
after most of us had left the vigil outside 14 Division police station.
He's in good spirits and had his charges reduced from 'assault police'
(which is quite ludicrous for anyone who knows Darren or witnessed the
arrest) to something more obscure. Kevin Thomas and Brian Burch are also
both in good shape. However, it's Greg that I'm worried about because he
was obviously picked out of the crowd by the police, and now has to spend
the long weekend in jail with a broken arm.

Activist/videographer David Hermolin has emerged mostly unharmed from the
event, after having his foot stepped on by a police horse. I saw him after
emerging from the hospital yesterday, and he said that with a little
polysporin and a tetnus shot he'll be OK. We're all looking forward seeing
to David and Jonathan Kulp's footage, which will likely end up in an
Undercurrents U.K. collaborative video on the Global Street Party, along
with footage from Reclaim the Streets events around the world.


(enclosed below: RTST reports from Brian Burch and Tom Patterson)


Date: Sat, 16 May 1998 23:16:01 -0400
From: (Brian Burch)


An exciting protest occured along one of Toronto's major streets the
afternoon of May 16th. Hundreds of people took over Bloor Street from
Roberts to west of Brunswick in an effort to bring attention to a world free
from cars and exploitation. Some organizers were telling participants that
the party would continue to 5:00 o'clock, making part of the downtown of the
capital of Ontario at liberated zone for 4 hours.

Puppets, children drawing chalk pictures on the street, lots of
drumming and dancing in the intersection made this event, from about 1:00 to
2:00 p.m. one of the most liberting experiences I have had in a period of
activism stretching back to 1969.

However, the police conspired to wreck the tone of the day. At two
o'clock rumours starting spreading through the crowd that the police had
arrested on of the participants. Officers were going through the crowd with
knived to cut streams and burst ballons, pushing people out of the way and
threatening to arrest people who interfered with them.

The demonstration split over this. A large portion marched north
along a side street and eventually made their way to Christie pits, keeping
a spirited protest going through an area of town not used to seeing

A slightly smaller group, but still over 100, kept to the published
agenda of the day and insisted on continuing to reclaim the street that the
organizers had lead the participants to. Individuals from groups such as
Toronto Action for Social Change, the Industrial Workers of the World, the
New Socialist Group and the Ontario Coalition against Poverty seemed to be
core of this group, but a lot of individuals who were excited by the concept
of the streets being for cyclists and pedistrians took part.

Weaving their way through police cars and horses, this group took two
lanes of traffic to continue the protest along Bloor Street to Christie Pits
(Christie and Bloor). At this point the police became more confrontational,
including riding a horse directly at one of the protesters. Several people
then sat down in the roadway, reminding the police that this demonstration
was peaceful but that the streets were for everyone. One of the
organiziers, an unsuccessful candidate for Toronto City Council, came by and
told the people trying to keep the streets reclaimed that, despite what the
organizers told individuals earlier, the plan all along was to be off the
street by 2:00 p.m.

I (Brian Burch) insisted that the organizers then come to talk to us
directly before we would agree to give back the street. Officers then
immidiately came over to me, ordered me off the street, and when I said
something along the lines of "I'd rather be arrested than give up my right
to protest", promptly arrested me.

I do not know yet what happened to the group that went into Christie
Pits for a celebration. I do know that dozens of people went into the
streets to demand that I be released. That effort was unsuccessful. I was
brought to 14 Division when, having been first told I was being held under
the catch-all 'breach of the peace'---which allows the police to hold
someone without trial until they feel that the accused isn't likely to
re-offend or the event ends--- I was told I was being charged with UNLAWFUL

The Canadian Criminal Code has this to say about the law:

"63.(1) An unlawful assembly is an assembly of three or more persons who,
with intent to carry out any common purpose, assembel in such a manner or
so donct themselves when they are assembeled as to cause persons int he
neighbourhood of the assembly to fear, on reasonable grounds, that they

(a) will disturb the peace tumultuously; or
(b) will be that assembly needlessly and without reasonable cause
provoke other persons to disturb the peace tumultuously.

66. Every one who is a member of an unlawful assembly is guilty of an
offence punishable on summary conviction."

This means that sitting in the road has resulted in a charge that could
end up in a jail term of up to 6 months and a fine of $2,000.

At 14 Division I learned that I was not the only one arrested. Kevin
Thomas, better known as one of the Friends of the Lubicon sued by Dashowa
for organizing a very successful boycott, was also in custody, having been
charged with unlawful assembly as well. Darren Odonnell and Gregory
Herrington were also in custody, having been charged both the Unlawful
Assembly and assault police.

Kevin Thomas and I were released from 14 Division at about 8:30
p.m.. We are to appear in 101 Court of Old City Hall tomorrow (Sunday) at
10:00 a.m. Gregory Herrington and Darren Odonnell, who are being kept in
overnight, will also be appearing at that time.

I have not seen Kevin Thomas' release conditions, but mine ban me from
going into the area patroled by police from 14 Division (Spadina to Lansdowne,
Duport to Lakeshore). I am also forbidden from communicating with my

There were about 40 people outside the jail when I was released.
It was a momement of joy to see such a range of supportive people.

For more information contact TASC at 416-651-5800 or <>


Date: Sat, 16 May 1998 23:07:40 -0400 (EDT)
From: Tom Patterson <>
Subject: RTS Toronto - arrests and quick report

I'm just writing to pass along word from the Toronto action. I wasn't one
of the organizers, but someone asked me to pass the word.

The main action was a success - 500 people I think, marched up Bathurst St
to shut down Bloor St West for five blocks in a busy coffee and bookstore
area between Spadina and Bathurst Streets. There was lots of spirit,
drumming, dancing, street theatre and play.

Later things took a turn. Apparently the organizers planned to march down
Bloor ten blocks or so, to the Christie Pits, a large park -- the site of
a major anti-fascist street fight in the 1930s, that played an important
part in shutting down pro-fascist organizing in Toronto at that time.

Before that march started, the cops started to turn up the volume on their
intimidation tactics. They started to harass people sitting on the street,
and went wild cutting the rainbow web of fabric ropes tied across the
streets and stomping balloons in a frenzy that might have be funny if
their intent - shut down the street party, keep cop control - had not been
so clear.

One person was arrested at this point, and the crowd was divided as some
drifted away and some marched on side streets to Christie Pits, while some
stayed on Bloor. After pressure and confrontation, the police, apparently
wishing to avoid pushing *too* far, opened their blockade of the street,
and we marched down Bloor to the Pits. At that point - about three and a
half hours after the street party started - some people remained on the
street in front of the park. When the police tried to push them off the
street, they responded by sitting-in on the street. Two more
street-reclaimers were arrested at this point, simply for not letting the
cops bully them off the street, and calling on others to stay brave, to
stay in the street.

While some called on us to leave the street and go into the park, we sat
in around the cop van where our friends were held. After the cops freed
their van to take away the arrestees, we held the street for a short time,
before marching to the local police headquarters to support the arrested
reclaimers and call for their release. About sixty people marched to Metro
Toronto Police 14 Division, and one more person was arrested as we
marched. Many of us stayed at the cop shop, sitting in on the lawn in
front of 14 Division for more than three hours, until all four had spoken
to a lawyer, two reclaimers were released, the other two had their release
hearing set for the morning. We have organized to attend the morning
hearing, Sunday, May 17, 9 am, room 101, Old City Hall courthouse, at
Queen and Bay St, downtown Toronto.

-Tom Patterson


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