CAW President Calls For OCAP Organizers' Charges To Be Dropped


May 12, 2003

CAW President Calls for OCAP Organizers' Charges to be Dropped

(Toronto)-- Twelve people who heard all the evidence could not come to a verdict on the riot and counseling to riot charges against three Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) organizers: John Clarke, Gaetan Heroux, and Stefan Pilipa.

The jurors' dilemma went to the heart of the matter. They could not agree on the fundamental issue of whether or not there was a riot at Queens' Park on June 15, 2000.

"All but a handful, in fact, the vast majority of those who joined the protest, did so in order to support the demand to allow a delegation of people in poverty to address the legislature on their grievances," says CAW president Buzz Hargrove. "An entire event cannot be characterized by the actions of a few."

Police witnesses for the Crown admitted on the stand that most demonstrators did not engage in any acts of violence. On the other hand, there were repeated mounted horse and baton charges into the demonstration that indiscriminately put lives in danger.

"The jurors who questioned the riot premise of the charges are to be commended for the consideration they gave to the evidence and testimony they saw and heard," says Hargrove.

"The Attorney- General and the Crown prosecutors should do the right thing and end these proceedings. Any jury of fair minded people will have exactly the same difficulty in arriving at a verdict as this jury did. Moreover, when there is that much reasonable doubt, the benefit of the doubt should go to the accused.

"The charges of riot and counseling to riot are outdated, outmoded relics of repressive, antiquated laws that were once used to suppress trade unions and other popular movements.

"The charges should be dropped."

Contact: Lynn Brophy, CAW Communications Department, (416) 271-9904.