THE DEMOCRATIC REPORTER
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Opening comments: More at the end.
The Criminalization of Dissent also greatly affects those who would save the environment. There are many articles about this very real concern, here are just two of them.
This article refers to yet another attempt by Toronto police Chief Julian Fantino to grab power and destroy our Charter rights. He was shot down by elected officials. No wonder he dare not present his pre-emptive search method of harassing law abiding protesters, cooked up in the bowels of the police headquarters. None-the-less, when this matter came before the Toronto police Service Board I addressed it.
TML Web News Site - March 31, 2003 - No. 74 - Morning Edition
Toronto Police Seek to
Police provocations and arrests are continuing to take place against anti-war protesters in Toronto. Furthermore, recently Toronto police chief Julian Fantino made a request to the federal government to amend the Criminal Code "to make it an offence to participate in a demonstration while masked or disguised or to participate in a demonstration while in possession of a weapon or an object that could be used as a weapon." The Toronto police are also asking for amendments that would "provide for the imposition of deterrent sentences upon conviction for an offence which is committed at a demonstration." The request of the Toronto police goes further by stating that "Committing an offence at a demonstration is an abuse of the rights of free speech and freedom of assembly and diminishes and endangers those rights for all who use them in a lawful fashion. Anyone, therefore, who is found guilty of committing or counselling the commission of an indictable offence, should be subject to a mandatory, minimum, consecutive sentence of one year in jail in addition to the sentence imposed for the substantive offence, whether or not that sentence involves incarceration."
The request to the Toronto City Council is to enact a by-law to "regulate and control demonstrations." The Toronto Police are requesting that permits be required for any demonstration which takes place on public property. "Such permits should require the posting of a bond in an amount sufficient to cover the cost of any damage as well as conditions covering geographic boundaries, approved routes and lengths of time. Permits should be conditional on approval by the local police service. Any history of violence, damage or abuse of a prior permit should automatically disqualify any individual or group from obtaining a permit or participating in a demonstration for a period of at least two years. It is only with measures such as these that the rights of free speech and freedom of assembly, which are central to a democratic society, can be monitored and fostered."
At each turn in history when the movement of the people is getting organized on the basis of its own demands, the reactionary state resorts to the use of provocations and the forces of law and order to harass, intimidate and persecute the people. For years this is how it has sought to silence the Marxist-Leninists. During the 1969-1973 period alone, more than 2,000 arrests of CPC(M-L) activists took place under the cover of violations of law and order. Multiple RCMP covert actions took place against the leadership of CPC(M-L); more than half a dozen bookstores of CPC(M-L) were burnt to the ground and so on. Now, once again, instead of laying political and ideological charges against activists, the police wants to change the laws so that it can prove they are "common criminals."
The police require changes to the law so as to justify the attacks against activists by charging them with violations of the law. The fact that the laws are passed to protect the rule of the rich is supposed to completely escape us. Once offences are sanctioned whose intent is to criminalize dissent in the name of law and order and protecting the expression of free speech from those who violate it through violence, then the society is supposed to sanction whatever happens to those who get arrested and convicted. The moral justification is presumably implicit in the fact that "they broke the law." Even before these changes are made to the Criminal Code or to Toronto by-laws, the leader of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty John Clarke is facing charges of "counselling participation in a riot" and "counselling assault police." It must not pass! Oppose political persecution in the name of violating by-laws and criminal offences. Any attempt to change the Criminal Code in this way or Toronto by-laws must be vigorously opposed. Canada should not get to declare that it is the champion of free speech, assembly and conscience and that there is no case law in the country of political persecution -- with perhaps the exception of the hanging of Louis Riel -- unless it is really so.
Criminalization of Dissent
On March 15, the 7th International Day of Action Against Police Brutality, close to 300 people in Montreal vigorously demonstrated to oppose the treatment of youth as criminals. The demonstration concluded Brutality and Repression Awareness Week held between March 9-14. Every year, the
For the first time since 1997, the demonstration took place in the Côte-des-Neiges area where black youth in particular are victims of constant harassment by the police. The initiative to hold the demonstration in the area was greatly appreciated by area residents.
As usual, the demonstration took place under high police surveillance, with a police helicopter flying above from beginning to end. During the gathering at Mackenzie King Park, Constable Rondeau of the City of Montreal Police Force (CMPF) warned the crowd that "no criminal acts would be tolerated." A COPB activist replied that any attempt on the part of the police to prevent freedom of expression could result in legal repercussions and that they would be held accountable before the courts for any violation of constitutional rights.
The contingent then began marching along the main streets, remaining in full view of passers-by and residents of the neighbourhood to ensure their protection. They marched to the Villa Maria subway station where a number of activists addressed the crowd, denouncing the harassment and the
COPB Files Complaint With Human Rights Commission
During the demonstration, COPB announced that on March 12 it filed a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission against the City of Montreal Police Force for massive violations of fundamental rights and freedoms. The complaint is file on behalf of the 371 people arrested and detained on the occasion of the 6th International Day of Action Against Police Brutality on March 15, 2002, the largest mass arrest in Montreal in the last 30 years. Of those arrested, 268 have been charged with unlawful assembly.
For COPB and the 77 signatories of the collective complaint, there is no doubt that the mass arrests carried out by the police constituted a deliberate act of discrimination relating to political convictions associated with the International Day of Action Against Police Brutality. It is shameful that Montreal society is endowed with a police force incapable of doing its work impartially, COPB pointed out. In its view, the purpose of the police operation was to identify, gather information and target the maximum number those opposed to police brutality in the hope of getting them to abandon their fundamental right to freedom of expression.
COPB has taken its case before the Quebec Human Rights Commission to fight against police impunity and to stop the repetition of such violations. In its opinion, this is an appropriate form of demanding redress for the ill treatment suffered by the 371 people arrested and detained on March 15, 2002. The Commission's mandate is to investigate acts of a discriminatory nature based on a discriminatory aim which is forbidden under Article 10 of the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
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