Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thought crimes

Now that the charges against the G20 protesters are finally being heard in court, the darkness at the heart of this story is being revealed. 1,100 arrested, 800 of those jailed but never charged, 67 charges now dropped, withdrawn or stayed -- including the guy who wrote "Shame on you" in charcoal outside the Toronto police station.
So there are 227 charges remaining, some of them actual crimes like vandalism , but others which sound just about as stupid as the ones which prosecutors dropped.
Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom provides the analysis of what was happening in Toronto that weekend in June :
...what occurred at the G20 was a massive and quite possibly illegal array of pre-emptive arrests. People were picked up and charged not because they were doing anything wrong – not even because they were about to do anything wrong.
Rather they were arrested and charged because those in charge of the police found civil liberties inconvenient. Their thinking: If everyone who might conceivably cause trouble is put in jail, there can be no trouble.
It is the totalitarian’s recipe for public order.
My friends at the G20 protests were outside a subway station 20 blocks away from any protest when they had their own run-in with this police attitude. First they were targeted by police because they saw police arresting someone else and didn't move along fast enough. Then they were almost arrested themselves because they had a legal aid phone number written on their arm, which apparently was interpreted as proof that they were thinking of breaking the law.

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