G20 protester barred from speaking to press as condition of bail
A man accused of having incited violent protests at the G20 economic summit in Toronto last June has been subjected to what his lawyer describes as “staggering” bail conditions. Not only is he forbidden to attend any public event that expresses political views but he is not even allowed to speak to the press.
At the time of his arrest on three counts of conspiracy, Alex Hundert was described by the Globe and Mail as an anarchist who had encouraged the Black Bloc vandalism which accompanied the demonstrations. “There’s been nothing covert about Mr. Hundert’s views, on which he expounded at length in a March 1 posting to rabble.ca, a non-profit news forum where activists often gather,” the paper noted. It quoted Hundert as saying, “The Black Block [sic] is a wrecking ball tactic that makes space for more mainstream or creative tactics.”
According to the Toronto Star, Hundert was released in July on $100,000 bail under the condition that he not take part in any public demonstrations. In September, however, he was rearrested for violating this condition by participating in a university panel discussion.
When Hundert was released again on Wednesday, his bail conditions had been modified to forbid him to attend any political event — not just demonstrations — or to express his own political views in public. A Justice of the Peace told the court that these conditions would bar him entirely from speaking to the media. Hundert is also forbidden to associate with his co-accused or to post on the internet, either directly or indirectly
The website g20.torontomobibilize.org went into more detail on Hundert’s treatment, alleging that “Alex was told by the security manager at the Toronto East Detention Centre that he had to sign the bail conditions or face solitary confinement in ‘the hole’, without access to phone calls or writing paper. He was put in solitary confinement after an initial confrontation with correction staff where he resisted initial attempts to make him sign. He was denied the right to call his lawyer, and told that if he didn’t sign now, they would revoke the bail offer and he would be held in solitary confinement until his eventual release from prison.”
Law professor Alan Young called the bail conditions “astonishing,” and told the Star, “It’s basically putting a gag order on a citizen of Canada, when it’s not clear that the gag order is at all necessary to protect public order. … It really seems to be a very severe deprivation of rights.”
Meanwhile, Canadian prosecutors have dropped charges against nearly a hundred other people arrested in a raid on a gymnasium where they were staying during the G20 summit, citing a lack of evidence.
A representative of the group that helped arrange housing for the arrested protesters called the dropping of charges “demonstrative of the criminalization of dissent” and noted that some of those arrested were charged with nothing more than having black clothing.
“Police rounded up more than 1,000 people during the G20 in the largest mass arrests in Canadian history,” the Globe and Mail explains.” Of those, only 300 were charged and several have already had their charges withdrawn.”