Charges Dropped!: Stay of proceedings in Quebec City riot case

PML, Samedi, Décembre 6, 2003 - 03:15

Jaggi Singh

December 5, 2003, Quebec City

Dear Friends:

After more than two-and-a-half years, all charges against me related to
the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City (April 2001) have been dropped.

December 5, 2003, Quebec City

Dear Friends:

After more than two-and-a-half years, all charges against me related to the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City (April 2001) have been dropped.

Today, Judge Beaulieu of the Quebec Superior Court ordered a stay of proceedings in response to pre-trial motions I made for unreasonable delay and abuse of process. A three-week jury trial that was to begin in January 2004 -- which would have involved a huge effort in terms of work, expenses and logistics -- has now been cancelled. While the stay of proceedings prevents me from going directly before a jury to be acquitted, it is still a huge victory, and once again deprives the police of a conviction in court.

There are many other Summit of the Americas cases pending, including a current jury trial involving three defendants that were charged separately but are being tried together: Luke Parkinson of Fredericton, New Brunswick; Denis Fortin of Montreal; and Colin O'Connor of Peterborough, Ontario. They are facing riot charges, and are defended by Pascal Lescarbeau (who acted as my legal advisor, and very capably argued my recent pre-trial motions). The trial has already taken four days, and is expected to last three weeks. Support in court or by e-mail for Luke, Denis and Colin is much appreciated. Please send your notes of solidarity to

To date, there have been many acquittals, a few deals (which have been especially tempting for out-of-town defendants) as well as a few guilty verdicts for the hundreds of people who were arrested and charged during the Quebec City uprising against the Summit of the Americas and the FTAA in April 2001. A written summary of the Quebec City Summit cases is forthcoming, and will provide a useful insight into the use of the state, police and courts against dissent (and the resilience of a protest movement that has tried to meet the legal challenge head-on, with some substantial victories).

In my case, I was targeted for arrest and nabbed off the street by an undercover snatch squad a few hours after the fence was torn down during the Carnival Against Capitalism march on April 20, 2001 in Quebec City. I was charged with participating in a riot, breach of conditions, and possessing a dangerous weapon: a teddy-bear launching catapult. I was detained for 17 days in prison before winning bail. During various court hearings while I was in detention, police witnesses and crown attorneys alleged that I was the leader of the demonstration, and that the catapult was used to launch rocks and molotov cocktails. One officer even testified under oath that the teddy bears could have transformed into molotovs (no joke). The police even did "ballistics tests" on the catapult which were recorded on video, after the catapult was seized from an affinity group from Ottawa (the "Lanark-ists") by the police.

In order to be freed from prison, I had to agree to conditions of release that included a ban on "being a leader", and a ban on using a megaphone anywhere in Canada (again, no joke). Twice since my release, I've been charged with breaking those conditions at demonstrations, and still face trials in those cases; not to mention that the conditions have been extended to ban me from amplifying my voice in any demonstration for any reason whatsoever, anywhere in Canada (yet again, no joke).

In a rather strongly-worded ruling, the judge agreed with many of my arguments, and wrote: "[The defendant] has shown that the bail conditions imposed on May 2001 have restrained his right to freedom, opinion, expression and the right of freedom of association as protected by article 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms." Over the entire court process, there were more than two dozen court hearings related to my case, the bulk of which I was obliged to attend in person from Montreal.

I cannot properly thank everyone who has shown incredible support and solidarity starting moments after I was nabbed off the street in Quebec City, in so many different ways (court support, material support, good advice, translation, words of encouragement, organizing campaigns, etc, etc). The support and solidarity from so many places, in so many ways, over such a long period of time, was so crucial to being able to effectively fight these charges. I want to particularly thank all the organizers who were active with the Anti-Capitalist Convergence (CLAC) in Montreal and the Comite d'Accueil (d'Adieu) de Sommet des Ameriques (CASA)in Quebec City, and also the incredible support work by members of the Libertas Legal Collective, and especially Pascal Lescarbeau, who is not just a skilled lawyer, but a patient teacher and great ally. What can I say?: Thank you all again!!

In the past two years, I have been facing six trials. I have now won two important legal victories: the stay of proceedings today, and a not-guilty verdict several months ago by a Montreal jury in relation to another protest. Still, I have other trials, including "illegal assembly" and other charges in relation to my involvement in the protest against Benjamin Netanyahu at Concordia University in September 2002 (for which I was arrested 4 months later). I will be dealing with the Concordia trial, and two others (for breach of conditions), in the coming months, while awaiting a verdict in a fourth case. To date, I have not been convicted.

To stay in touch about these matters, don't hesitate to contact me at

Undoubtedly, the most important way that I have maintained morale throughout these legal proceedings is to participate in, and to be inspired by, ongoing collective organizing against war, poverty, capitalism and all forms of exploitation and oppression. It's been necessary for me to assertively respond to the legal detours in my way, but I most look forward to organizing and working with you in our shared struggle for justice, dignity and liberation.

In solidarity and struggle,
Jaggi Singh

PS: The judge today also ordered that the Quebec police, who have had the catapult in their custody ever since April 20, 2001, hand it over to me (who never even used it to begin with, or even came up with the idea; my personal preference was to build something called the "Trojan Donut" to break thru police lines, but that never worked out). Various activists from across the Canadian state who were involved with the catapult in some way -- from Alberta, Ontario and Quebec City -- will brainstorm how best to make use of the soon-to-be "liberated" catapult. If you have ideas, please share them by e-mailing

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