Activists warned that speaking to media could lead to jail
July 29, Toronto – The OPP have warned two alleged G20 protest ringleaders
Leah Henderson and Alex Hundert that their recent media interviews are a violation of bail conditions not to organize, participate or advise protests. On the morning of July 28, OPP officers called their sureties and threatened to re-jail them if they persist in speaking to the media. Leah and Alex were released on bail on Monday July 19, three weeks after they were arrested at gunpoint in a pre-emptive nighttime raid on their Toronto home.
“There could hardly be a clearer indication that the police are trying to silence the voices of these organizers at all costs. Alex and Leah refuse to be intimidated from speaking out about their experiences and the daily injustices perpetrated against our society’s most marginalized communities,” says Faraz Shahidi, their supporter and member of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG – Toronto).
Leah and Alex recently appeared on CBC radio, Toronto Sun, Vancouver Media Co-op, and Rabble decrying the politically-motivated nature of the charges against them and calling on all people to support Indigenous communities, poor people, precarious migrants, and communities under occupation in the face of attacks by the leaders and policies of the G20
on their lands, livelihood, and health.
“Freely expressing opinions is not illegal. These violations of the right to free speech and the freedom of the press to speak to G20 defendants have a grave impact on all of us,” said Ryan White, a lawyer with the Movement Defense Committee.
According to well-known constitutional lawyer Clayton Ruby, “The targeting of activists should be of concern to all of us. The erosion of Charter rights, the trampling of civil liberties, and the criminalization of dissent is an attempt to destroy the foundation of our society. Everyone has an equal stake in this.”
Leah Henderson and Alex Hundert will appear in court again on Friday to defend against a Crown appeal of their bail. Dave Vasey, an anti-G20 environmental justice organizer who was arrested for breaking the illusory 5-metre rule under the Public Works Act on June 24, 2010, appeared in court on Wednesday only to find that his charges had mysteriously
disappeared from all court and police records, circumstances the presiding justice of the peace called “highly unusual.”
“The mass arrests and targeting of activists raises serious issues about the criminalization of dissent as we confront deepening austerity on a global basis. These instances make visible the power of the police and governments to continue acting with impunity,” says Cynthia Wright, a York University professor.
“Our movements will not be silenced. We dare to dream of a world with freedom, justice, and equality; without tanks and prisons and borders and other oppressive institutions that steal sustenance from the world’s majority,” says Rachel Avery, member of AW@L and a music student at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. “We will continue to organize against the G8 and G20 leaders and their corporate villains that pillage the earth with industrial projects and profit from war.”