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"Nebulous" non-association condition sets G-20 defendants up to breach

Crown fails to impose new conditions against Leah Henderson

by Dawn Paley

Image by Molly Fair, Certain Days Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar 2011,
Image by Molly Fair, Certain Days Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar 2011,

Also posted by dawn:

Leah Henderson was back in court last Wednesday, and in a small victory for her case and those of other defendants facing conspiracy charges stemming from the G20, a Superior Court Judge denied the crown’s request to impose conditions of non-association with the Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance (SOAR) and Anti-War @ Laurier (AW@L).

On October 20, Superior Court Judge Todd Ducharme spoke to his reasons for having denied the crown’s appeal of Henderson’s bail on September 13. Henderson was initially not subject to the same conditions of non-association that her co-accused were required to accept. After failing in their effort to send her back to jail, the crown asked the court to add non-association as a condition for her continued release.

“The crown then on Wednesday asked for the condition of non-association with SOAR, AW@L, as well as two named individuals, Dan Kellar and Harsha Walia, to be added to my bail conditions,” Henderson told the Vancouver Media Co-op by phone from Toronto. She said that her lawyer argued that the crown has presented no evidence of what being a member of SOAR or AWOL actually means, since both are anarchist organizations without membership lists.

“Ducharme said it was a nebulous condition, it was setting someone up to breach, essentially, because it just wasn’t defined, so based on that he made the decision that I would not have the condition of non-association with SOAR or AWOL,” said Henderson, who is allowed to communicate with Walia, but still cannot associate with Kellar.

“The reason that this is a significant decision is that the rest of my co-accused will now have the opportunity to say that a superior level court has said that this condition is setting people up to breach, and isn’t actually a fair condition to have, which of course will help people in terms of not feeling as isolated, in terms of having access to their support networks and their friends and their lovers,” she said.

Henderson is facing three politically motivated charges stemming from the G-20 summit in Toronto: conspiracy to commit mischief over $5,000, conspiracy to assault police, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Her existing conditions amount to house arrest, she has a curfew, and is not allowed to post to the internet. Alex Hundert, one of her 19 co-accused, was thrown back in jail on Saturday because of an alleged incident about which details have not been made public.

Henderson will return to court on November 8th to challenge the condition that she can’t attend or plan public demonstrations. She said the judge was “very upset” with the way the conditions around planning or participating in public demonstrations or protests have been interpreted by the crown.

“Because of that, he wants an entirely new condition worded, and so my lawyer as well as the crown will be making submissions on what that wording should be, which is hopefully where we’ll be able to challenge that it's an unconstitutional condition anyway.”

Henderson was arrested at gunpoint together with Alex Hundert and another co-accused in Toronto on the early morning of June 26, 2010. She spent 25 days in women’s prison before her release in July. “The women that I was in custody with, are, you know, almost everyone that’s there is there because of domestic abuse incidents, or immigration, or because they are stuck in a cycle of poverty that the system continues to feed, and then they can’t meet the basic needs for themselves or their kids,” she said.

The experience of going through the court and prison system has affirmed Henderson's belief in the importance of organizing.

“The work that we’re doing as activists and as social change folks is important, because what happened to me is obviously targeted, and unacceptable, but it happens every day to women of colour and women in poverty,” she said.

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AW@L stands for social and ecological justice

AW@L does not stand for anti-war @ laurier... while we did.... we do not anymore (and for some time now).


nice article dawn!


it's just AW@L, it doesn't mean anything else? good to know. thanks dan.

we stand for social and

we stand for social and ecological justice, and we are not specifically anarchist... our members and our tactics are diverse.

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