Statement By John Clarke, OCAP Organizer

** party announcement at bottom **

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On Tuesday, October 28, the State's second attempt to convict me as the supposed architect of a "planned riot' at Queen's Park on June 15, 2000 went off the rails. As one of a series of pre trial motions that we put before the Court, my lawyer, Peter Rosenthal, had argued that my constitutional rights had been violated because the matter had not been brought to trial within a reasonable time. The Judge in the case accepted this and ordered the charges against me stayed. While we do not have any written reasons for the decision as of yet, it is likely that a seven month delay in providing us with disclosure of potential evidence was the main factor involved.

The judicial stay that has been ordered puts the charges on the shelf and, as such, they are no longer hanging over my head. My massively restrictive bail conditions are null and void. Within thirty days, the Crown must decide whether or not to appeal but, if they do, they must take their case to the Ontario Court of Appeal and then to the Supreme Court of Canada. Even if they went to such lengths, they would then have to set the date for a third trial and go at it all over again. With the new, Liberal Government in power, and in the Attorney General's Office, this is unlikely in the extreme. Clearly, we have won a major legal and an even bigger political victory.

We said all along that these charges were an attack on the whole movement. In the first trial before a jury earlier this year, Stefan Pilipa and Gaetan Heroux, faced two years in jail for "participating in a riot" having been singled out as "leaders" by the Police and Crown. I was looking at up to five years for "counselling" people to riot and assault police. Had they been able to convict Stefan and Gaetan, no one who joined a demonstration that the cops turned into a confrontation would have been safe from prosecution. If I had gone down on the basis of having made a speech at a demonstration, the chilling effect on the right to dissent is even more obvious.

After the Jury in the first case became deadlocked and a mistrial was declared, the decision to retry me was astounding and without precedent. Their failure to get the matter before a second jury is a vindication of a strategy that we developed in the course of this whole long battle. We firmly believed that it was possible to mount a principled defense that was, at the same time, legally effective. My lawyer, Peter Rosenthal, was remarkable in agreeing with this and finding the means to combine winning legal arguments with solid political conviction. We went before a jury and acknowledged our militant politics and the plans we had on June 15, 2000 to demand entry for a delegation to the Legislature. If there was a riot on that day, however, we laid it at the door of an intransigent Government and a reckless and provocative police force. We used all legitimate legal arguments available to us but never went in for any cringing apologetics. We emerge from this long ordeal with our heads held high.

It would be improper to end this statement without thanking all those who stood in solidarity with us. In addition to the Jury trials, dozens of others faced legal attack after June 15 and remained solid in the face of it. Hundreds of people came out to court to show solidarity. Trade unionists and community leaders wrote hundreds of letters on our behalf. People in dozens of countries added their names to statements of support. In the US, South Africa and Korea protests were organized in our defense and, just as the Judges ruling brought things to a halt, solidarity actions were being planned in Britain and Brazil. We did not just win the legal battle. We come out of this stronger than when we went into it. Now, we will take that strength into our fight against poverty and those who inflict it on us.

CELEBRATE STAYING OF CHARGES AGAINST JOHN CLARKE IN SECOND 'QUEEN'S PARK RIOT' JURY TRIAL

Imperial Pub (upper level)
54 Dundas Street East (at Victoria)
Sunday, November 2nd,
7pm

We invite all friends,supporters and allies to drop by and raise a glass to John Clarke, his council Peter Rosenthal and to Victory