Montreal — The trial of a Montreal man who was arrested after taking photos of undercover police will be heard in court later this week. Scott Weinstein was arrested on July 1, 2010, during a Montreal march denouncing mass arrests at the Toronto G20 protests. Julius Grey will appear for the defence in what promises to be an important political trial.
Weinstein left the march to take a video of a group of undercover police officers, who were described as “scary-looking” by another videographer. The undercover officers had earlier attempted to enter the march, only to be repulsed by watchful activists concerned about potential violence by police provocateurs. When Weinstein approached the undercovers, they were walking as a group in a street parallel to the march.
Although Quebec courts have found filming police to be legal, the members of the SEF (Secteur emploie de la force) tactique, known as “l’Equipe bravo,” surrounded the 52-year old Weinstein, removed him from his bicycle and took his camera. Weinstein put up no resistance to the arrest but went into a fetal position on the ground and yelled for help. He was brought to a police station where he was detained for several hours. When Weinstein’s camera was returned to him on his release, the video of the undercovers had been erased. Destruction of criminal evidence is illegal.
A computer expert was later able to recover still images from Weinstein’s video of the undercover police. The recovered digital data clearly shows that the video was erased at a time when police had possession of Weinstein’s camera and Weinstein himself was detained. Recovered photos and video images with their time/date data are available to the media upon request. Video by others of part of the arrest will also be used for the defence.
“If my video supported the police claim that they warned me to back off and I then assaulted them, the police would surely have used the video evidence against me,” states Weinstein. “Instead they destroyed the video evidence which supports my contention that I did nothing wrong.”
Although Weinstein was later charged with assault with a weapon — his bicycle — the police voluntarily gave the bicycle to Weinstein’s friends while he was being arrested. Had it truly been used as a weapon, police would have had to keep the bicycle as evidence.
In the 17 months since the arrest, the Crown has refused the defence’s request to consider dropping the charges.
“It’s not acceptable to send undercover police looking like thugs to intimidate a peaceful demonstration, especially when there are children and babies, as in this case,” concludes Weinstein.
The trial is scheduled for Wednesday, February 1st at 9 a.m., at the Palais de justice, 1 Notre Dame E, Montreal.