|Ontario: an appeal for solidarity action in support of OCAP members facing second trial on 'riot' charges|
On May 11, the trial of Stefan Pilipa, Gaetan Heroux and John Clarke of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, on charges that they organized a 'planned riot' by homeless people at the Ontario Legislature on June 15, 2000, came to an abrupt end. A deadlocked jury led to a mistrial being declared.
On June 18, the three men go back to Superior Court to learn whether or not the Crown (prosecution) will be demanding a second trial. If that happens, OCAP and its many supporters will meet the challenge but, at the same time, we want to do all we can to get the charges dropped. The three have already spent three years with this matter hanging over their heads. To this day, the must live with serious bail conditions that limit their movements and massively restrict their civil liberties. The last trial lasted for four months and we would like to avoid another huge outlay of time and resources. We would also like to end the possibility of prison sentences of up to five years that would result from convictions.
This is the time when the authorities are making their decision. All pressure that can be applied on them is very important and greatly appreciated. Letters can be send to Norm Sterling, Attorney General of Ontario, at firstname.lastname@example.org and should be copied to OCAP at email@example.com For an idea of how letters can be framed, those that have already been sent in can be viewed at www.ocap.ca/nonewtrial.html
We would also ask of people who live outside of Ontario that they show their support by bringing delegations to local offices of the Ontario or Canadian governments. In other Canadian provinces, Ontario maintains offices to promote trade and business. In countries outside of Canada, Canadian embassies and consulates or commercial operations can be visited. We have taken such solidarity actions ourselves in support of activists in a number of countries. A small delegation that delivers a letter of protest requires the local office to pass on the information to the government it represents. It will have a huge impact on the thinking of the authorities here if such actions occur. Those who carry them out are asked to send us a report, along with a photo if possible, that we can put on our website.
That they poured vast resources into a serious criminal trial and failed to convince a jury to convict us was a huge victory. We want to make that victory complete by getting the charges dropped now. Your support and solidarity will be of huge help and may be decisive.
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