Three G-20 Protestors Still Behind Bars
In the Oct. 31, 2000 edition of The Link, a story ran about protesters were getting arrested while demonstrating against G-20. Jaggi Singh—who made headlined this week for winning a court case against the SPVM—wasn’t so lucky back then
Written by Robert Scalia. Photo by Vince D’Alto
Three protesters arrested at Monday’s G-20 demonstration outside the Sheraton Hotel for allegedly throwing rocks at police officers are still behind bars.
Stéphane Blais and Carrière, both 18, and Kevin Spillane, 25, were arrested along with 36 other protestors for “illegal gathering” and “participation in a riot.” On Wednesday afternoon, at the Montreal Courthouse, the three young men were also charged with armed assault on a police officer and were denied bail.
Spillane and Blais are presently being detained in the Centre de Détention Rivière-des-Prairies, while Carrière is at the Bordeaux Prison.
“Their detention is political,” lashed out Jaggi Singh in a telephone interview Saturday. The Montreal self-proclaimed anarchist, writer and member of the Capitalist Anti-Convergence, was the only other protester detained for more than 24 hours.
“There’s a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Cops accused of manslaughter are usually granted bail,” he added.
The three will remain incarcerated for at least another two weeks while they await their individual trials.
Pascal Lescarbeau, Blais’ lawyer, has demanded a revision in Superior Court, pointing out that bail can only be denied if a defendant is deemed a threat to society or a risk to flee before his next court date. Blais’ preliminary hearings are set for Nov. 17.
Lescarbeau insists that Blais will probably end up spending more time in jail awaiting his trial than anyone else, although the street youth has no previous criminal record.
“I think the judge simply wanted to make a point [against protesters].”
In a press release by the G-20 Welcoming Committee—organizers of Monday’s protest—Judge Gerard Locas is quoted as reasoning that releasing the three men would undermine confidence in Canada’s legal system in the eyes of international public opinion because police officers are the “guardians of democracy.”
“I would like to know the context in which these three guys are being charged with armed aggression. I think [their actions] could be justifiable,” continued Singh, claiming that riot police could be seen bulldozing innocent protestors walking away peacefully.
Singh said he was “whacked” in the stomach with a baton and witnessed a protester get knocked to the ground while attending to a pepper spray victim.
Singh was arrested shortly after the demonstration, while he and two friends were headed to a support demonstration for those arrested.
Their van was stopped by MUC police shortly after dusk. With six officers (three of them plain-clothes) present , Sergeant-Detective Poletti called him by name, charged him with violating previous bail conditions for rioting in Westmount on May 1, and handcuffed him.
“[The police] are trying to cherry-pick those who they think are the leaders of the ant-globalization movement,” Singh said.
He maintains his involvement Monday only included passing out flyers, chanting a few slogans and giving a speech on the World Bank and the IMF.
He spent the night at Bonsecours jail, located under the municipal courthouse. The following afternoon, Singh received a separate hearing in which the Crown called him a “risk to public security” and demanded he be kept in custody until trial.
He was transferred to RDP prison Wednesday morning and waited until 3:30 p.m. to receive his bail hearing. Based mostly on hear say-evidence, Poletti testified that Singh’s speech on Monday incited his alleged “followers”—protesters wielding baseball bats and gas masks—to riot.
“[It was] complete and utter fabrication,” maintains Singh. Poletti, he points out, referred only to the “tone” of the speech.
With a court date slated for January 16, Singh has been ordered to keep the peace and to avoid all demonstrations in Quebec occurring on private property, or those that may potentially turn “violent.” He faces a $4,000 fine and jail time if these conditions are broken.
“They’re keeping me from protesting effectively,” said Singh, pointing out that nothing can stop the Crown from postponing the trial to June or July.
That would be after the heads of 34 Western Hemisphere governments meet in Quebec City from April 20 to 22. Singh’s bail conditions, should they stick, have only primed him. In fact, he insists he’ll be “three times busier” in Quebec, passing out flyers and organizing workshops.
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