CANNABIS CULTURE – A “Free Marc” campaign organizer was arrested Thursday, June 10th at the Niagara Falls office of Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson in what activists are calling “assault and police intimidation.”
Jacob Hunter, Policy Director of the Beyond Prohibition Foundation and organizer of recent Conservative MP office occupation protests, was accosted by a police officer while attempting to walk through the front door of the Member of Parliament’s constituency office in Ontario. Hunter was there as part of a continuing series of protests being held at the offices of Conservative Members of Parliament by supporters of Marc Emery, and was joined by a group of activists including Jodie Emery.
Hunter was reportedly arrested for “assaulting a police officer”. Activists said another individual was also arrested at the scene.
Jodie Emery, wife of imprisoned activist and former seed-seller Marc Emery, said an officer arrived at the scene and told protestors to stop filming, and claimed the video camera was “a weapon”. Shortly thereafter he grabbed, shoved and arrested Hunter when he tried to follow the officer into Mr. Nicholson’s office. The entire incident was caught on video (VIDEO COMING SOON) despite the officer’s attempt to prevent the events from being recorded.
Reports from people at the location suggest Hunter did not engage in any unlawful conduct.
“The right to peacefully protest government action is basic and fundamental to our democracy,” said Kirk Tousaw, the Executive Director of the Beyond Prohibition Foundation. “Mr. Hunter should not be subject to arrest and possible prosecution for engaging in political activity protected by the Charter and central to the workings of every democracy on Earth.”
The Foundation is calling upon the Justice Minster to intervene and ensure that no charges are brought against either of the men arrested.
“Mr. Nicholson makes much of his government standing up for the rule of law,” said Tousaw. “The Charter is the supreme law of the land. Being arrested for peaceful protest strikes at the very core of our democracy and is an utter rejection of the rule of law. It is time for this government to make clear that the exercise of basic democratic rights will be protected, not prosecuted, in Canada.”
More as the story develops…
‘Free Marc Emery’ protest goes awry
What was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration outside MP Rob Nicholson’s office on Thursday afternoon resulted in the arrest of two men.
Jacob Hunter of Vancouver and Eric Compton from Toronto were both arrested by officers from the Niagara Regional Police Services outside Nicholson’s Niagara Falls office.
The protest, organized by the Free Marc Emery Campaign, was targeted at Nicholson, Niagara Falls MP, because in his role as Canadian Minister of Justice, Nicholson was the person who signed the extradition order for Emery.
Marc Emery is a Canadian cannabis activist and former cannabis seeds seller who was sentenced to five years in a United States prison on drug charges stemming from his cannabis seed selling business.
Thursday’s planned protest was the latest in a series of similar demonstrations that have taken place across the country over the last few months. On May 19, Emery supporters successfully staged a sit-in at Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office in Calgary. The Niagara Falls demonstration, however, is the first time someone has been arrested at such a protest.
“We’ve had seven demonstrations in British Columbia, around the Vancouver area, and we’ve occupied four other offices across the country. The police have been called every time, but we’ve been able to have peaceful negotiations with them in each instance,” said Davin Christensen, founder of the Toronto Hash Mob, one of the groups involved in the protest. “In (Nicholson’s) office hangs the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and under Section 20 of that Charter, we have the right to enter and set up a meeting with any member of Parliament.”
The protesters arrived in two waves: one small contingent in a car and a larger group in a bus. Hunter, the first man arrested, was among the passengers in the car, which arrived at the demonstration site first. Jodie Emery, wife of Marc, was also in the car. She said that when they arrived, they tried to enter Nicholson’s office, but it was locked. After knocking on the door, a female office worker asked for identification. Jodie pressed her identification against the glass but was told the office staff wasn’t available at that time.
Moments later, according to Jodie, an police officer arrived on motorcycle.
At this point, the protesters began videotaping what was happening. The video shows a police officer telling the protesters to put the cameras away because they are “considered weapons.” The officer was about to enter Nicholson’s office, but instead turned around and arrested Hunter for assaulting a peace officer. The bus arrived as the arrest was happening and Compton, who was on the bus, was arrested shortly after for obstructing a peace officer while he was employing what Jodie referred to as the “Hug Power” technique, which is when a protester hugs someone who is being arrested.
The protest carried on as planned, but outside of the building instead of inside the office, while several NRPS officers looked on.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Pat Simpson was also on the scene.
“I’m just here to oversee the peaceful demonstration,” he said. “Nothing seems to be out of hand here.”
There were about 15 people demonstrating outside Nicholson’s office, waving flags and shouting into bullhorns. People came from Vancouver, Toronto, Hamilton and Waterloo to participate in the protest.
“We need to get straight to politicians, who usually get to hide from the public in their private jets and in Parliament,” said Jodie. “The only place to get close to them is to go to their offices, which are our offices, and we were locked out. There’s no reason to not let us in.”
Hunter and Compton were released from police custody on Thursday afternoon and are scheduled to appear in St. Catharines court on Thursday, August 15 at 9 a.m.
– Article from NiagaraThisWeek.