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G8/G20 Communique: UPDATE Report back from Monday August 23, 2010 G20 court hearings

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NOTE: I am updating yesterday's post with the information finally released from the Ontario Attorney General regarding the official tally of the G20 related charges from Monday August 23, 2010. To do the math, 1090 were arrested on G20 related charges and only 227 people remained charged after Monday's court hearings.

--In total, 304 people were on the docket at the Ontario Court of Justice.

--The G20 arrestees faced charges ranging from mischief to obstructing a peace officer and possession of weapons.

--73 cases were either settled or dismissed.

--9 of these 73 cases were people listed in error.

--22 people had their charges withdrawn through the diversion program (ex, a required donation to a registered charity).

-- 5 people had their charges withdrawn after they agreed to sign peace bonds.

--31 people had their charges withdrawn or stayed (which means the Crown has a year in which it could opt to revive the charges).

--Total: 58 people had their charges withdrawn or stayed.

--6 people registered guilty pleas.

--227 people had their cases adjourned to dates from the end of August to mid-October, 2010.

 --4 accused did not appear in court Monday and bench warrants were issued for their arrest.

[The need for a public, transparent G20 inquiry to figure out how 1,090 could be arrested/detained but only 227 people had their charges stick? Priceless!]

**

Three courtrooms at the fortified 2201 Finch Avenue court house were dedicated exclusively to handling the 304 G20 arrestees who arrived early for their set date hearings on Monday August 23 2010; where heavily armed Emergency Task Force officers patrolled the hallways.

The G20 arrestees were divided up into groups loosely based on the location of their arrest and processed through the system; sometimes only spending a few minutes in front of the judge before hearing that their charges had been dropped.

All 17 community organizers accused of being "ringleaders" to the G20 Summit protests - thus given a variety of conspiracy based charges - had their hearings put over to September 27, 2010.

This includes Alex Hundred and Leah Henderson who still remain out on bail despite a government-spearheaded appeal of their court-ordered release on August 19, 2010. Originally arrested on June 26, 2010 at gun point after police kicked in their door at 5:00 am, the two will return to court on September 13, 2010, to hear the judge's decision.

According to Henderson, "We are being targeted for the ideas we advocate as anarchist organizers including decentralization of power, non-hierarchical and non-coercive community structures, active resistance against oppression, and real freedom and equality. The Crown has singled us out specifically as anarchists, but also as allies to Indigenous land defenders."

Another of the alleged ringleaders who had their trial postponed until September 27, 2010, was Jaggi Singh who -- because of his strict bail conditions that prevents him from organizing or participating in any demonstration -- cannot work at his job at the Quebec Public Interest Research Group.

Of those originally arrested, only Erik Lankin still remains in custody since his arrest on June 26, 2010. His next bail hearing has been postponed until September, 2010.

This was one of the largest mass court appearances the city has ever seen, according to Toronto police G20 investigator Det. Sgt. Gary Giroux.

The sheer number of charges dropped -- coupled with the number of activists and bystanders who were arrested/detained during the G20 Summit weekend only to be released hours later without charge -- has bolstered calls for an inquiry.

Of the 1,090 people picked up during the G20 Summit, only 304 were charged and and told to appear in court on August 23, 2010. Of the 304 charged (breakdown from the Attorney General posted above), 73 cases were settled, dropped or charges diverted if they agreed to contribute to a charity, do community service or sign a peace bond.

It is important to note that a diversion still implies a level of assumed guilt, which is why it was reported at last night's solidarity demonstration by Brooke Thorndycraft from the Toronto Community Mobilization Network that there were activists who refused the diversion and wanted to take their case to trail; this including Rachelle Sauve who refused to make the $50 "donation" in exchange for dropped charges of obstruction and wearing a disguise. 

Thorndycraft also noted that the number of dropped charges meant that the government knew it had no possibility of conviction in 1/3 of the cases [This estimate was made before the Attorney General Office's released the official figures].

This suggests that it was the G20 police force that ran riot during the Summit, arresting without thinking and letting the court sort it out later. Female activists who faced arrest allege that they experienced sexual harassment at the hands of their arresting officers and those working at the Eastern Avenue Detention Centre.

"They (the Police) asked me and other women I was with if we wanted to have sex with them," said Alison Peters, a young woman who was detained at the Eastern Avenue Holding Centre. "We were told to take our clothes off if we wanted to be taken seriously...they made a joke about having a sexual threesome with me and a female officer."

Anna Willats of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition dressed down the police, stating that they "had forgotten the lessons" learned from numerous attempts at public outreach and accountability.

"We need a police service that acts a lot differently than how they acted at the end of June," said the long time activist.

The Toronto Star published an editorial today that stated, "This winnowing process reflects well on Ontario Court, and its reluctance to criminalize dissent. But it does nothing to ease concerns about Prime Minister Stephen Harper's unwisdom in holding the G20 in downtown Toronto, turning it into an armed camp of empty streets. Or Premier Dalton McGuinty's decision to grant the police enhanced powers of arrest without properly informing the public. Or the police strategy that first let vandals run amok, then cracked down on non-violent protesters."

*

Johan Hundert -- brother of Alex Hundert who is currently out on strict bail conditions -- appealed for everyone to stay involved.

The 247 Committee is providing support for the G20 arrestees and can be reached at [email protected].

To hear about upcoming meetings of the 247 Committee or the Toronto Community Solidarity Network and future events and organizing, please join a low-traffic announcement listserve at https://masses.tao.ca/lists/listinfo/community.mobilize.

For more information about calling for a G20 inquiry, please see http://www.g20inquiry.org/

 

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