OCAP Trial: Police Reaction Criticized

Rebick, who was reporting for the CBC that day, also said yesterday she assumed at the time police "deliberately" brought the horses in to provoke the crowd.

She was testifying for the defence at the trial of John Clarke, an Ontario Coalition Against Poverty organizer, who is charged with counselling others to riot and to assault police, and Gaetan Heroux and Stefan Pilipa, who are charged with participating in a riot on June 15, 2000.

"I was right there. I had to move not to get hit," Rebick told the jury. "People were frightened. People were running.

"It's quite terrifying to be in a situation where police horses move into a crowd."

Although the demonstration began peacefully, Rebick said, the atmosphere changed after someone she believes may have been an "agent provocateur" threw a firebomb on the front steps of the Legislature and several barricades were toppled. The crowd then became angry and things began "getting out of hand" after the police moved the horses in.

"I thought it was a foolish thing to do because it aggravated people," she said.

Rebick told Peter Rosenthal, Clarke's lawyer, that the use of police horses at Queen's Park was unusual because horses are not usually brought in until a protest has turned violent, "which was not the case here."

"The police over-reacted," she said, adding that police should arrest protesters who commit violent acts.

Rebick told Heroux's lawyer, Bob Kellerman, that an address by Clarke to demonstrators that prosecutors will likely construe as counselling them to go into the Legislature, was just "an agitational speech to rally people."

The trial continues today in Superior Court.