Why I'm suing the police: Montreal activist explains her groundbreaking Superior Court case

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I would like to begin by thanking all of you and by also offering my gratitude to the thousands of people who have offered me support during this time. I appreciate your kindness, will and determination to fight against repression; not only in my struggle, but in yours as well.

As many of you have now heard, with the guidance and representation of Me. Julius Grey, I will be suing the City of Montreal and the SPVM in Superior Court on the grounds of political profiling and violation of fundamental rights. A letter of demand was served to the City of Montreal late last week asking for $24,000 in damages. Yesterday an action was filed in the Superior Court of Quebec.

This will be the first case of political profiling tried in Superior Court, or as far as we know anywhere in Canada, and we hope to establish a legal precedent of respect for the right of people to express dissent. If successful, this case could protect activists across Canada from experiencing what happened to me. But nowhere is this precedent more desperately needed than here in Quebec, where draconian laws like P6 have all but criminalized the constitutionally protected right to protest.

I would like to state first and foremost that my struggle is not the only one. Thousands of people face persecution and repression due to their political beliefs. I strongly believe that criminal charges and the economic punishment of undeserved tickets were used during the 2012 Student Strike, and since, to punish those expressing political opinion. This amounts to a clear case of political profiling, and an abuse of charter rights. I encourage and support full amnesty for those similarly targeted, and so I have chosen the legal option in this case to set a precedent. A precedent I hope can be used in cases of targeted activists to expunge their tickets. My struggle does not benefit only myself, but seeks to ensure what was done to me is never done to another individual.

It is time we stand up and fight back against the abuses of our police force: the racism, sexism and discrimination faced by some each and every day. It is time police stop using their power to ticket and charge as a weapon against workers and students and instead fight for justice. If not in our streets, then within their own ranks. An SPVM spokesperson was once quoted saying "the charter protects the right to freedom of expression, but not to protest". SPVM, you are wrong. The charter protects the right to assembly, the right to freedom and the right to expression in whatever form it takes. But more importantly, it protects the right to justice.  

It is in our culture, and in all of us to fight for justice. For the freedom of our opinions and for the expression of our liberties, not just for ourselves but for humanity as a whole. It is not in our nature to be submissive, it is not in our future to be quiet and it is lastly not in our favour to allow such injustice to take place before our own eyes. So with this, I ask for the support of the public, regardless of politics, as we strive to fight for a free, equal and fair society for ourselves, our children and generations thereafter.

Thank you for your time.

In Solidarity,

Katie B. Nelson

 

Katie Nelson is a 21-year-old Montreal-based activist. You can follow her on Twitter @KatieBNelson

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