G20 Defendant Alex Hundert Released from Prison, Actions of Crown Widely Condemned

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 28, 2010

January 28, 2010, Toronto – After having spent three consecutive months in jail without trial, G20 defendant Alex Hundert was released from the Toronto West Detention Centre on January 24th.

His release came after he signed a plea bargain with the Crown that he was guilty of being in breach of his “no protest condition” for being present during one portion of the panel at Ryerson University. The plea found him not guilty of breach for speaking on a panel at Laurier University, nor did the plea establish that speaking on a panel was equivalent to a public demonstration.

On being released from jail, Hundert said, “I made this plea because I realised that I was doing no good to anyone as I sat in jail. There will be no justice in the courts because they exist to protect an unjust and hierarchical order. So I took a deal that would allow me to get back into my community where I can continue to commit myself to issues of social and environmental justice.” Read Hundert’s statement in full here: http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/blog/alex-hundert/5868

Initially arrested in a violent pre-emptive house raid in June on “conspiracy” charges, Hundert was re-arrested after being accused of breaching his ‘no public demonstration’ bail condition for speaking at panel discussions at Wilfrid Laurier and Ryerson University in September 2010. Plainclothes officers were present at both of these events.

Commented Nathalie Des Rosiers, General Counsel at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association on the entire operation, “It seems preposterous to think that public resources, policing and even corrections resources have been spent to prevent someone from attending and speaking at a University seminar. The process was unfair and the charges were exaggerated: it ought not to have happened.”

Numerous academic bodies, unions, and civil society organizations have publicly expressed their support of Alex and have condemned the crackdown on dissent. The Canadian Association of University Teachers, Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, BC Civil Liberties Association, and Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario, have all issued statements to the Attorney General to this effect.

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations wrote in a public letter, “This criminalization of legitimate dissent represents an assault on both Mr. Hundert’s freedom of expression and the freedom of our universities to foster debate and discussion on issues of public importance. Academic freedom – the ability to engage in controversial or challenging dialogue without fear of reprisal – is a cherished value of Ontario’s universities. Such freedom cannot exist when subjected to state surveillance or arbitrary exercise of state power.”

In a statement issued on behalf of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), David Bleakney, National Union Representative for CUPW, stated, “This travesty is about much more than just Alex however. It is about a legal and political order that promotes the erosion of rights, freedoms, and justice.” The bail condition forbidding participation in public demonstrations has itself come under scrutiny, and is the subject of a constitutional challenge put forward by G20 defendant Jaggi Singh.

Out of the over 1000 people who were arrested during the G20 in Toronto, only a handful of charges remain. Many of those arrested were never charged, and the months since have seen hundreds of those who were have their charges dropped. The abuses perpetrated by the police during and outside of the G20 summit have been gaining wide attention and condemnation in the public eye.

Adds Yogi Acharya, member of No One Is Illegal Toronto, “This on-going debacle of political targeting of activists gets more transparent to the general public every day. The Police and the Office of the Attorney General ought to be held accountable for their actions; not just during the G20, but for the daily violence they inflict on marginalized communities.”

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