**Please Forward Widely**
GROUP STATEMENT BY 17 PEOPLE CHARGED WITH CONSPIRACY DURING THE G20
REGARDING A PLEA DEAL
November 22, 2011 -- As people across Turtle Island look towards the
global wave of protests against the austerity agenda, the memory of the
2010 G20 protests in Toronto looms large as both inspiration and caution.
We are seventeen people accused by the state of planning to disrupt the
leaders summit – the prosecutors call us the G20 Main Conspiracy Group.
This alleged conspiracy is absurd. We were never all part of any one
group, we didn't all organize together, and our political backgrounds are
all different. Some of us met for the first time in jail. What we do have
in common is that we, like many others, are passionate about creating
communities of resistance.
Separately and together, we work with movements against colonialism,
capitalism, borders, patriarchy, white supremacy, ableism,
hetero/cis-normativity, and environmental destruction. These are movements
for radical change, and they represent real alternatives to existing power
structures. It is for this reason that we were targeted by the state.
Although these conspiracy charges have been a big part of our daily
reality for the past year and a half, we have been slow in speaking out
collectively. This is partly because of the restrictive bail conditions
that were placed on us, including non-association with our co-accused and
many of our close allies. In addition, those of us who did speak out have
been subjected to a campaign of intimidation and harassment by the police
and prosecutors. We are writing now because we have negotiated a plea
deal to resolve our charges and to bring this spectacle to an end.
The state's strategy after the G20 has been to cast a wide net over those
who mobilized against the summit (over 1, 000 detained and over 300
charged) and then to single out those they perceived to be leaders. Being
accused of conspiracy is a surreal, bureaucratic nightmare that few
political organizers have experienced in this country, but unfortunately
it is becoming more common. We can't say with any certainty if what we did
was in fact an illegal conspiracy. Ultimately though, whether or not our
organizing fits into the hypocritical and oppressive confines of the law
isn't what's important. This is a political prosecution. The government
made a political decision to spend millions of dollars to surveil and
infiltrate anarchist, Indigenous solidarity, and migrant justice
organizing over several years. After that kind of investment, what sort of
justice are we to expect?
We have not been powerless in this process; however any leverage we've had
has not come from the legal system, but from making decisions
collectively. This has been a priority throughout, particularly in the
last several months, as the preliminary inquiry gradually took a back seat
to negotiations for a deal to end it. The consensus process has been at
times a heart-wrenching, thoughtful, gruelling, disappointing, and
inspiring experience, and in the end, we got through it together.
Of the seventeen of us, six will be pleading and the eleven others will
have their charges withdrawn. Alex Hundert, and Mandy Hiscocks are each
pleading to one count of counselling mischief over $5,000 and one count of
counselling to obstruct police, and Leah Henderson, Peter Hopperton, Erik
Lankin, and Adam Lewis are each pleading to a single count of counselling
mischief over $5,000. We are expecting sentences to range between 6 and 24
months, and all will get some credit for time already served in jail and
on house arrest.
Three defendants in this case had their charges withdrawn earlier and one
has already taken a plea to counselling mischief over $5,000 that involved
no further jail time. This means that out of twenty-one people in the
supposed G20 Main Conspiracy Group, only seven were convicted of anything,
and none were convicted of conspiracy. The total of fourteen withdrawals
demonstrates the tenuous nature of the charges.
This system targets many groups of people including racialized,
impoverished and Indigenous communities, those with precarious immigration
status, and those dealing with mental health and addiction. The kinds of
violence that we have experienced, such as the pre-dawn raids, the
strip-searches, the surveillance, and pre-sentence incarceration happen
all the time. The seventeen of us have moved through the legal system
with a lot of privilege and support. This includes greater access to
"acceptable" sureties, and the financial means to support ourselves and
our case. While the use of conspiracy charges against such a large group
of political organizers is noteworthy, these tactics of repression are
used against other targeted communities every day.
There is no victory in the courts. The legal system is and always has been
a political tool used against groups deemed undesirable or who refuse to
co-operate with the state. It exists to protect Canada's colonial and
capitalist social structure. It is also deeply individualistic and
expensive. This system is designed to break up communities and turn
friends against each other.
Within this winless situation, we decided that the best course of action
was to clearly identify our goals and needs and then to explore our
options. Within our group, we faced different levels of risk if convicted,
and so we began with the agreement that our top priority was to avoid any
deportations. Other key goals we reached were to minimize the number of
convictions, to honour people's individual needs, and to be mindful of how
our decisions affect our broader movements. Although we are giving up some
important things by not going to trial, this deal achieves specific goals
that we weren't willing to gamble.
Our conversations have always been advised by concern for the broader
political impacts of our choices. One noteworthy outcome is that there are
no conspiracy convictions emerging from this case, thus avoiding the
creation of a dangerous legal precedent that would in effect criminalize
routine tasks like facilitation. Taking this deal also frees up community
resources that have been embroiled in this legal process.
We emerge from this united and in solidarity.
To those who took us in while on house arrest, to those who raised money
for our legal and living expenses, to those who cooked food, wrote
letters, offered rides and supported us politically and emotionally
throughout, thank you.
To those in jail or still on charges from the anti-G20 protests, to
political prisoners and prisoners in struggle, we are still with you.
To communities and neighbourhoods fighting back from Cairo to London, from
Greece to Chile, in Occupied Turtle Island and beyond, see you in the
Pat Cadorette, Erik Lankin, Paul Sauder, Meghan Lankin, Bill Vandreil,
Joanna Adamiak, Julia Kerr, David Prychitka, Alex Hundert, Monica Peters,
Sterling Stutz, Leah Henderson, Adam Lewis, Mandy Hiscocks, Peter
Hopperton, SK Hussan, Terrance Luscombe
If you would like to issue a solidarity statement, please email
firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.