Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Activist surrenders to face G20 charges

by Antonia Zerbisias
The Star
July 06 2010

Social justice activist Jaggi Singh surrendered to Toronto police early
Tuesday morning to comply with a warrant following June’s G20 protests.

The Montreal-based community organizer faces several counts of criminal
conspiracy, including alleged conspiracies to commit mischief to property,
assault police, and obstruct justice.

Singh, 39, joins 16 other people known to be in detention 10 days after
1,090 were arrested during the G20 weekend.

Just a few hours before he voluntary walked into custody in the company of
his lawyer, Singh told the Star that he could not comment on the charges
because he had not yet seen what evidence police have against him.

But he did dismiss the notion of any criminal conspiracy.

“I helped people find housing and get transportation to come to a
demonstration. That’s my conspiracy,” he said. “But give the police enough
money and resources and they’ll transform protesters and organizers into

Currently a fulltime staffer of the Quebec Public Interest Research Group
at Concordia University, Singh has also worked with activist organizations
Solidarity Across Borders and Anti-Capitalist Convergence.

Because he was not picked up from the streets like hundreds of other
citizens were, he feels that he is speaking from a “position of relative

“I don’t even know everybody else (arrested), but I want to at least
strike a note of caution that there should be an extreme amount of
vigilance, vis-à-vis what the Crown and the police are putting out,
especially given the misinformation the police put out in the aftermath of
the G20,” he said.

According to a statement by No One is Illegal, which represents refugee
claimants and is one of the community organizations with which Singh is
affiliated, “He is currently in custody along with other G20 political
prisoners who are awaiting bail hearings.

“Jaggi’s situation is still unclear. We hope he’ll be released
immediately. He could remain in custody for some time.”

It would not be the first time.

Singh’s Wiki entry reads like a long rap sheet of incarcerations during
summit protests. Charges are always dropped or he is later acquitted.

“I’m notorious for this whether I like it or not – and I don’t like it,”
he laughed.

Singh first came to national prominence during the1997 Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation conference in Vancouver, where he was arrested even
before the summit began. A subsequent formal inquiry into RCMP actions
found that he “was arrested on a warrant based on a spurious charge; the
manner of his arrest was inappropriate in the circumstances; the timing of
the arrest was calculated to prevent him from attending protests on ...
the bail conditions sought were overly restrictive.”

Singh insists that such pre-emptive police moves are designed to stifle
dissent – and that what happened at the G20 in Toronto was no different.
Pre-dawn police raids into private homes, during which protest organizers
were dragged from their beds, are just one example he named.

“You charge people for what they do, not what they look like or what they
might do, right?’’ he said.

“I have sort of been through this story before in other ways, facing
charges, been taken off the streets. It’s the escalation of the legal
apparatus against protesters and it’s a criminalization of protest

At least 14 G20-related prisoners are expected to appear in court Tuesday.

It’s not known if Singh will be one of them.

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