Another Activist Arrested in Crackdown on ‘Free Marc’ Protests

Police crowd into the office of Conservative MP Terence Young's Oakville office before arresting a 'Free Marc' protestor for trespassing. (Photos by Leah Gair)Police crowd into the office of Conservative MP Terence Young’s Oakville office before arresting a ‘Free Marc’ protestor for trespassing. (Photos by Leah Gair)CANNABIS CULTURE – Another ‘Free Marc Emery’ campaign activist was arrested during a Conservative MP office occupation in an apparent attempt by Canadian officials to subvert the rights of peaceful protestors. The arrest is the third in days for members of the campaign, who say authorities are using brute force and shady tactics to keep them quiet.

Nicole Seguin, a Vancouver drug policy reform activist and member of the ‘Free Marc Emery’ campaign, was arrested on Tuesday, June 15 for protesting at the Oakville, Ontario constituency office of Conservative MP Terence Young.

“We’re having our freedom of expression chilled and we’re in constant danger, it seems, of police arrest for legal, peaceful protest,” Seguin told Cannabis Culture shortly after she was released from jail.

About 15 activists entered the Member of Parliament’s office as part of the ongoing ‘Free Marc’ Conservative Office Occupation Campaign, in which protestors have successfully ‘taken over’ over a dozen offices of members of the Conservative government of Canada, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to demand the return to Canada of imprisoned marijuana activist Marc Emery and an end to Canada’s draconian Drug War.

Video posted on YouTube of the Oakville occupation shows police entering the MP’s office and confronting protestors, who inform the officers of their legal right to protest inside the government office. [Click here for more video.]

Moments after the video camera stopped rolling, police moved in to force protestors to vacate the office. In a display of civil disobedience, Seguin refused to leave and was arrested for trespassing and taken into custody by authorities. She was released an hour later and given a $65 fine.

“We were the ones keeping it in control,” Seguin said. “We were completely non-violent and within our rights, and yet, almost 10 police officers were sent down, including two vans. All the officers were wearing high-security bullet proof vests and putting on gloves; a complete show of force in response to peaceful protestors armed only with camera’s and signs. Apparently this threatens the Conservative Party to the point where they want to bring down the police and use taxpayer resources to suppress political expression in Canada.”

Activist Nicole Seguin inside the Minister's office before being arrested by police.Activist Nicole Seguin inside the Minister’s office before being arrested by police.Last week, ‘Free Marc’ campaign organizer Jacob Hunter was attacked by a Niagara Falls police officer while attempting to enter Justice Minister Rob Nicholson’s office in what activists are calling “assault”.

Online video shows activists arriving at the Minister’s office to find the front doors locked during open business hours – a tactic Conservative MP offices across the country have been using to deny protestors their legal right to demonstrate inside government offices. Constable Chris Stewart was on the scene within minutes and spoke briefly to activists, instructing them to turn off their cameras or they would be considered “a weapon”.

When Hunter attempted to follow Constable Stewart inside the Minister’s office, claiming his right to enter public property, the officer shoved him backwards violently and took a swing at him with his ticket booklet, knocking the camera out of the activist’s hands.

“Constable Stewart turned, closed the door, then attacked, first my camera phone, and then my person,” Hunter said. “Stewart, holding on to me, shoved me violently backwards several steps onto my bad knee, which I recently had reconstructive surgery on. I twisted in intense pain, and lost my balance. Constable Stewart, highly agitated, began demanding I drop my laptop bag. After Stewart declared I was under arrest, I complied.”

Hunter was, ironically, arrested and charged with “Assaulting a Peace Officer”. Activist Eric Compton was arrested at the scene while attempting to use the “Hug Power” technique to stop Hunter’s arrest and was charged with “Obstructing a Peace Officer”. The incident was reported on by CBC News and other media. Watch the full video of the protest on YouTube.

Seguin and Hunter are planning to contest charges and are considering further legal action.

“We will be in Court August 5 to fight these obscene charges, and once we’ve won, we’ll be filing a civil suit for breach of civil rights,” Hunter said about his case.

In a related incident, Cannabis Culture has learned that a Marc Emery supporter from Stoney Creek, Ontario was visited by two plainclothes RCMP officers from the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team after making a phone call to the home of Justice Minister Rob Nicholson. The supporter found the Minister’s number posted online and wanted to voice his concerns about Emery’s extradition to the US for selling marijuana seeds on the Internet.

“They told me that the minister’s house has been receiving hundreds if not thousands of calls from Vancouver to Halifax and everywhere in between,” the supporter, Steve Shakeshaft, told Cannabis Culture, “and apparently some of them were threatening. I told them I had nothing to do with any threats, as the only communication I ever had with the minister was the one time he answered my call, asked my name, then claimed I had the wrong number. They agreed that I had not made any threats or taken part in any illegal activity, told me I was pointed at because of the sheer number of calls I had made, and ‘warned’ me that any phone calls made, now that I had been asked to stop, could be considered harassment.”

Read the “Threat to National Security?: Man Visited at Home by RCMP For Phone Call To Justice Minister” on Cannabis Culture.

Marc Emery is currently in solitary confinement in a US prison awaiting sentencing after being extradited by the Conservative government of Canada. Emery was raided and arrested by the US DEA and Vancouver police in 2005 for selling marijuana seeds over the Internet and using the money to fund activism. He agreed to a 5-year plea deal in exchange for his two co-accused receiving probation in Canada.

Emery was put in solitary confinement for unknowingly breaking an apparently unwritten rule by allowing his wife, Green Party Director-at-Large Jodie Emery, to record a phone conversation for publication as an online podcast.

After sentencing, Emery will apply for transfer to Canada for the remainder of his sentence. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews will decide if Emery will be allowed to come home.

As well as rallying for the return of Emery, protestors are in strong opposition to Conservative crime bill S-10, which would bring mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana offenses to Canada, including six months in jail for as little as six plants, and 18 months in jail for making hash or pot cookies.