From Blockade Defense
Out of the charges laid for the 2020 Shut Down Canada blockades, some of the most serious are the ones against defendants in Hamilton. These charges stem from a 24 hours shutdown of the CN and CP tracks through the city on February 24th to 25th, which was a direct response to the OPP’s attack on Tyendinaga territory that morning and in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en.
Initially, six people were charged for this action, but we are pleased to announce that charges against two of them were withdrawn in the past couple of months. Each remaining defendant is charged with four counts of indictable Mischief over $5000, each of which carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison.
At the same time as the Hamilton blockade occurred, another blockade action took place in Toronto. It blocked the same stretch of tracks, lasted about the same amount of time, and those arrested were accused of nearly identical actions. However, those who were arrested in Toronto were charged only with a single count of summary Mischief over $5000, a charge whose maximum penalty is six months incarceration.
The difference in the charges laid by the Hamilton Police Services is inexplicable. At this point though, the charges are officially out of the police’s hands and are being dealt with by the Hamilton crown attorney’s office.
While the charges in Toronto were withdrawn by the crown there as part of a peace bond, the crown in Hamilton is seeking jail time against some defendants and seems set on taking them all to trial.
The Hamilton crown attorney’s office needs to hear that people all across Canada are watching this case and will not accept this kind of vastly disproportionate treatment. They should immediately drop the charges against all blockade defendants.
The Hamilton defendants have an important court date coming up on April 12th. Before then, we need your support to get the message to the crown to drop the charges. We are asking for your help by contacting the Hamilton crown attorney on Thursday March 25th by phone or email to make the message clear.
The crown’s most involved with the case are:
The general email for the office is VirtualCrownHamilton@ontario.ca.
If you send an email, BCC us at email@example.com so we can know about it!
The contact number for the office is 905-645-5262. You can ask to speak to either of them, ask to leave a message, or say what you have to say to the person who answers the phone. If you call, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.
The text below can be the body of an email or the script of a call. Please be polite and remember that we are not trying to pressure or threaten anyone, but are simply communicating the public interest in the case.
I’m contacting you because I am concerned about your office’s decision to pursue charges against four defendants in connection to the February 24-25th rail blockade in Hamilton last year.
The four defendants in Hamilton were a small part of a movement involved tens of thousands of people and is of major public interest. I believe that all charges connected to the movement should be withdrawn, including those against the Hamilton blockade defendants.
The charges laid against defendants in Hamilton are significantly more serious than those laid for similar facts in other jurisdictions. In fact, a blockade that was held the same week in Toronto on the same line for the same duration was resolved by peace bond four months ago.
Thank you for your time,