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Activist Jaggi Singh Given Suspended Sentence for G20 Speech

July 25, 2011


Montreal activist Jaggi Singh is free.

Charged with ‘counseling mischief’ at a press conference prior to the 2010 G20 protests in Toronto where he urged people to “take down those fences and those walls that separate us,” he faced a possible jail sentence of 6 months. The judge, however, handed down a suspended sentence, counting time served on house arrest.

Jaggi emerged from the old city hall courthouse into the brilliant sunlight, greeted by supporters and quickly surrounded by a media scrum. He had no apologies.

“I have no regret for what I said. My only regret is that we didn’t succeed in tearing down that fence, and we didn’t succeed in effectively disrupting the G20 in the way it deserved to be disrupted,” he said…

Jaggi also sent solidarity messages to those still facing charges—people like Byron Sonne and Ryan Rainville, both of whom faced significant jail time and severe bail conditions. Sonne was only recently released from jail…

Singh drew attention to the double standard applied to activists being charged for speech crimes, and police, who displayed significant violence against hundreds of people during the G20, and who got off with impunity.

“Two police officers charged? That’s just a drop in the bucket,” said Singh. “I’m here to defend what I said and I’m not ashamed of it. Meanwhile you have cops on the stand [who] were basically lying—lying about the identity of another cop [who] was totally identifiable.”

This double standard also applies to the massively expensive undercover operation against activists recently covered by Tim Groves. Singh suggested that if state money was spent infiltrating other right-wing or corporate groups, they might uncover more significant criminal activity.

“What if they infiltrated political lobbyists?” he said. “But instead they spent 2 years infiltrating political groups and all they get is a bunch of people talking about the G20, talking about what happened anyway—and that’s a conspiracy charge, even though thousands of people were talking about what might happen at the G20.”

Jaggi Singh is heading home to Montreal to continue organizing mass movements for social justice, because just being released is not enough. He stood on the courthouse steps, staring up at the sandstone structure that of Old City Hall, which represents both Canada’s colonial past, and the present justice system in Canada.

“If we had real justice,” he said, “it would be the G20 leaders up there in the courtroom facing charges.”

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