URGENT: Bail denied to G-20 demonstrators; Judge calls protestors "anti-social"

vieuxcmaq, Sunday, October 29, 2000 - 12:00

Legal Support Team G-20 Welcoming Committee (

Bail denied to three young G-20 demonstrators; they will remain in custody at least another two weeks

Judge proclaims that "the police are the guardians of democracy"; calls protestors "anti-social"

Sergeant-Detective alleges that one protestor "incited a riot" with speech; prosecutor declares him "a risk to public security"

----- Bail denied to three young G-20 demonstrators; they will remain in custody at least another two weeks

----- Judge proclaims that "the police are the guardians of democracy"; calls protestors "anti-social"

----- Sergeant-Detective alleges that one protestor "incited a riot" with speech; prosecutor declares him "a risk to public security"

MONTREAL, October 28, 2000 -- This past Wednesday afternoon, at the urging of the crown prosecutor, bail was denied to three young demonstrators who participated in the street party and protest against the G-20 conference last Monday outside the Sheraton Hotel. Daniel Carriere, 18, is currently being detained at Bordeaux prison, while Stephane Blais, 18, and Kevin Spillane, 25, are being detained at the Rivieres-des-Prairies prison. Their next bail hearing is not expected for at least another two weeks, during which time they will remain behind bars.

The legal support team of the G-20 Welcoming Committee -- which organized Monday's street party (October 23, 2000) -- are in touch with the lawyers of the three detained protestors. As soon as we learn of their next bail hearing, that information will be passed on to supporters. We intend to fill the courtroom at the hearing to show our solidarity with our fellow demonstrators, and to protest their unjust imprisonment. If you would like to be informed about the upcoming court date, e-mail or phone 514-278-4533 and leave a message.

In denying bail to the demonstrators, Quebec Court Judge Locas reasoned that the anti-G-20 demonstration was "anti-social" and that any attacks on police are anti-democratic since "police are the guardians of democracy."

Normally, to deny bail and keep someone in custody, the court must accept that the prisoner is either a danger to society, a risk to flee before their next court date, or that their release would undermine confidence in Canada's justice system. Judge Locas openly admitted that the three demonstrators were neither a risk to society nor a risk to flee. However, he argued that since police were allegedly under attack at Monday's demonstration, the release of the three protestors would undermine confidence of the legal system and the Canadian state, especially in the eyes of international public opinion. The G-20 conference was comprised of the finance ministers and bank governors of 19 nations, as well as the heads of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The three demonstrators face a range of charges from Monday's demonstration, the most serious of which is armed assault on a police officer. The charge really means that the three demonstrators are alleged to have thrown rocks or other projectiles at riot police. To put the continued imprisonment of the three youth in some context, before their bail hearing, two other prisoners, unrelated to any political protest, were released on bail. Their alleged crime was to have used a handgun with bullets to threaten people in a bar.

The continued detention of Daniel, Stephane and Kevin is an outrage when compared to the way more serious crimes are treated. Police officers who are charged with manslaughter routinely receive bail. Daniel, Stephane and Kevin's imprisonment is clearly politically motivated, and they are being made scapegoats for the so-called "riot" last Monday. The G-20 Welcoming Committee has already publicly denounced the police actions on October 23 as really a "police riot". The police arbitrarily deployed horses against the demonstration, and riot police beat on demonstrators, even those who were fleeing or offering medical help to pepper-sprayed victims.

Kevin Spillane has apparently no criminal record, while Daniel Carriere and Stephane Blais are just eighteen. Stephane is also a contributor to Suspectus Magazine, a locally published zine that addresses the concerns of street youth and other marginalized groups. In prison, he was expressing his eagerness to write an article about the G-20 for the next issue of Suspectus. In all three cases, the demonstrators are presumed innocent until found guilty, and the charge of armed assault against the police should certainly be seen in the context of police violence aimed at protestors during last Monday's demonstration.

In total, 39 people were arrested last Monday after a violent intervention by police horses and the riot squad armed with helmets, shield and batons. Aside from the three protestors who are still detained, everyone else has been released. They face charges ranging from participating in a riot, to being part of an "illegal gathering." These are vague catch-all charges, which could apply to any one of the 800-1000 people who attended last Monday's street protest. These kinds of charges have been used before to justify mass and arbitrary arrests in Montreal.

One demonstrator, Jaggi Singh of the G-20 Welcoming Committee, was singled out for arrest after the demonstration, away from the Sheraton Center. He was detained for over 48 hours, including a night at Rivieres-des-Prairies prison. At a separate bail hearing, the crown urged Singh's continued detention until trial (meaning imprisonment for at least a month) on the grounds that he constitutes "a risk to public security". Singh has no violent record, and his charges from last Monday's demonstration make no mention of any specific acts beyond the vague charges of participating in an illegal gathering, and participating in a riot. He spent much of the demonstration handing out informational flyers, chanting slogans, as well as talking with other demonstrators.

However, Sergeant-Detective Poletti of the Montreal Police testified under oath at the bail hearing that Singh's speech to the crowd at the demonstration "incited a riot". Poletti did not cite any specific words and referred instead to the "tone of the speech" that resulted in "cheers and applause". As it is, Singh is not even being charged with inciting a riot, but Poletti's false testimony was clearly aimed to keep him in prison for an extended period.

Singh, who represented himself before the court, was able to successfully argue for his release, but must abide by strict bail conditions that impede his ability to protest effectively in the province of Quebec.

For more information, or to stay in touch about legal support, please e-mail or phone 514-278-4533. This communique was prepared by members of the G-20 Welcoming Committee legal support team. Information about the upcoming bail hearing, as well as the wrap-up assembly for the G-20 Welcoming Committee, will be posted in the upcoming days.

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