It may come as a surprise to some, but activist organizers who were arrested during the G20 Summit demonstrations in Toronto are still being held in custody — for over a month — while others are finally starting to trickle out of jail.
G20 community organizers Leah Henderson and Alex Hundert were released on bail on July 19, 2010. They learned yesterday that the Crown is appealing their release.
“The appeal of our bail release, like the pre-emptive arrest, is a strong indication of the state’s intent to criminalize ideas, dissent, and effective community organizing,” says Alex Hundert.
Amanda (Mandy) Hiscocks’ bail hearing started on July 26, 2010, and the outcome should come either today or tomorrow. Hiscocks has been held in custody for a month.
Hiscocks, Hundert and Henderson were all arrested for their alleged role as “ringleaders” in regards to their community organizing around the Toronto G20 Summit protests in late June 2010. The three were pre-emptively arrested at gun-point in a house raid on the morning of Saturday June 26, 2010, before the day’s protests began.
“The arrest at gunpoint of these three and the delay before bail hearings amounts to the criminalization of dissent. It is not the first time perceived leaders of an action have been jailed for what they were alleged to have said in meetings or demonstrations. I have worked with Leah Henderson, she deserves an award not vilification and arrest,” said veteran activist Judy Rebick.
In another example, community organizer SK Hussan was arrested while making his way to the Saturday Labour/NGO/Peace march at Queen’s Park where he describes his arrest as being tackled by plain-clothes police officers, thrown into an unmarked police van and essentially disappeared.
They are among 17 accused of various offences; some but not all of whom are also being accused by the Crown of allegedly being on the executive of or associates of the Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance (SOAR). The one thing that the defendants have in common is the often amorphous conspiracy charge.
In statement from SOAR in defence of their comrades:
“Our comrades have been targeted for obvious political reasons and are being held on bullshit charges. The “justice” system integral to state power is fundamentally illegitimate and we will not leave our brothers and sisters to fight it alone. And so we will struggle and organize until they are free. We are calling on anarchists and anti-authoritarians everywhere to support us.
“We will support our friends and comrades to our last breath, and show the world that our solidarity is stronger than their terror.”
The defendants themselves — and the community that supports them — have not wavered in their resolve to fight these chargers, and it sparks in my mind a certain type of anger: how can Canada claim it is a democratic nation when citizens are punished harshly when they exercise their democratic rights? It is that heavy feeling that pushes on the shoulders and tightens the chest when you are made to feel wrong for doing something right.
“It is important for people to continue to raise their voices, and for communities to refuse to let this attempt at silencing be anything more than further inspiration to build the world we believe to be possible — a world where land and people are valued over profit and power,” said Leah Henderson.