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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.

As well as;   Montreal Youth Oppose the Criminalization of Dissent

TML Web News Site - March 31, 2003 - No. 74 - Morning Edition

Toronto Police Seek to
Legalize the Criminalization of Dissent

 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.

Montreal Youth Oppose the
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
 demonstration itself as well as the various activities organized around it have grown in scope,  expressing the concern of the population at large and the youth in particular about increased police  brutality, repression and the criminalization of dissent. The demonstration was organized by the  Collective Opposed to Police Brutality (COPB), which was assisted this year by the Student Union  Association at the University of Quebec in Montreal, the Anti-Capitalist Convergence (CLAC), the  collective No One Is Illegal and Kabattang, a group of Filipino youth based in the Côte-des-Neiges area.

 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
 persecution that numerous residents have faced, particularly black youth.

 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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