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Riding Out the G20 Judicial Roller-Coaster

Issue: 73 Section: Canadian News Geography: Canada Topics: G20 defendants, Justice, prison

November 10, 2010

Riding Out the G20 Judicial Roller-Coaster

Hundert threatened with solitary, Rainville released, Ichim's charges dropped

by Nat Gray

A press scrum in Montreal after the announcement that charges against nearly 100 people—arrested at the University of Toronto during the G20—were dropped. Photo: CLAC

MONTREAL—The fence has come down, the police have returned to their respective cities and the G20 leaders have gone home, but the saga of arrestees continues. While charges in some of the most spectacular arrests have now been dropped, others are just beginning to face the repercussions of the G20 convergence in Toronto.

In the latest arrest on October 14, Montrealer Youri Couture turned himself in to Toronto police. He faces several charges, including mischief over $5,000 and disguise with intent.

Ryan Rainville, a young Indigenous rights advocate from the Sakimay Nation, was released from prison yesterday after spending nearly three months in jail. In early August, while out on bail for other G20-related charges for which he had spent six days in jail in June, he was re-arrested for allegedly causing mischief over $5,000, assaulting a police officer, intimidating a justice system participant by violence and breaching his bail conditions.

Rainville was released on non-association bail conditions which block him from contacting some other G20 defendants and community organizers. He will go to trial in early 2011. A week prior to his release, Rainville was offered release and a reduced sentence if he co-operated with G20 Integrated Security Unit officers in identifying individuals in photographs. He refused.

G20 defendant Alex Hundert was arrested for a third time, this time for allegedly attempting to intimidate a member of the judicial system. Hundert was arrested four days after he filed an application for a review of his most recent bail conditions, which included “no expressing of views on a political issue.”

After initially refusing the “no expressing of views” bail condition, Hundert was coerced by the security manager of the Toronto East Detention Centre into agreeing to it.

“They said that they would keep him [in solitary confinement] until he was eventually released from prison if he didn’t sign his bail conditions right away. He was not allowed to make a phone call,” said Jonah Hundert, Alex’s brother, in an interview with CBC.

Alex Hundert had been found by a Scarborough Justice of the Peace to have breached his "no-demonstration" bail condition on October 8, 2010, by speaking as an invited panelist at two university events.

Gary McCullough was arrested June 24, 2010, after police pulled him over and found a crossbow, a chainsaw and other outdoor equipment in his vehicle.

McCullough’s home in Haliburton County, Ontario, had burnt down, and his remaining possessions were in his car when he drove to Toronto to get his car window fixed. McCullough has spent most of the last three and a half months in solitary confinement before being assessed as unfit to stand trial, and now awaits transfer from prison to a psychiatric hospital.

Byron Sonne, a computer security expert who had created a G20 counter-surveillance “how-to” guide, was arrested on June 22, 2010, on a slew of charges, including possession of an explosive. There is a publication ban on his case, and it is unknown why he was denied bail on July 20, 2010. Sonne remains behind bars.

Toronto-based organizer Syed Hussan, an alleged co-conspirator, has been unable to get his work permit to Canada renewed and is facing inadmissibility proceedings, which may lead to his deportation. Hussan was arrested after being swarmed by plainclothes officers and thrown into an unmarked van the morning of June 26, 2010.

“I think it’s rare for this much resources and energy to be put into so vehemently going after people who are allegedly guilty of nothing more than vandalism,” said Jonah Hundert.

Indeed, it seems that many of the charges are not holding up in court. Conspiracy charges against nearly 100 protesters of the G20 who were arrested in the widely publicized and violent 9am raid of a gymnasium at the University of Toronto (U of T) were dropped due to lack of evidence. Charges against three members of Montreal’s Anti-Capitalist Convergence (ACC) who were “preventatively” arrested on the morning of June 26, 2010, were also dropped.

“A lot of [the U of T arrestees] are more radical now, [they’ve] seen you can be arrested for your political beliefs,” said Blandine Juchs, a member of the ACC.

Leah Henderson, another accused of conspiracy successfully challenged her non-association bail conditions on October 20, 2010.

"[Superior Court Justice Todd] Ducharme said it was a nebulous condition, it was setting someone up to breach, essentially, because it just wasn’t defined,” Henderson told the Vancouver Media Co-op in a phone interview.

Anti-poverty activist Julian Ichim had his charge of counseling to commit mischief dropped by the crown on November 1, 2010. He appeared in court with eight of the 19 alleged co-conspirators, all of whom still face charges.

Following the same hearing, Peter Rosenthal, lawyer for Montreal-based organizer Jaggi Singh, argued for more disclosure regarding the case against his client. He told reporters after Singh's hearing that many of the accused still have not received full disclosure of the evidence being used against them.

Such judicial harassment is only strengthening the conviction of those resisting G20 policies. Before Alex Hundert was banned from speaking to the media, he urged people to continue organizing. "The way to assert our right to resist is to resist."

“If they’re trying to break [Alex] down with these sorts of things, it’s certainly not working,” affirms Jonah Hundert.

Nat Gray is a poet, an activist and an intern at The Dominion.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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