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Public Works Protection Act Strikes Again

Seven Arrested at Swamp Line 9 Courtroom Solidarity Action

by J Den

Outside Hamilton's John Sopinka Courthouse. PHOTO: The Indignants
Outside Hamilton's John Sopinka Courthouse. PHOTO: The Indignants

This story is developing.

UPDATE (16 August): Read "Swamping the Courts: Disruption All Around!" for a first hand account.

UPDATE (2:15am): All but one arrestee have been released; they will be held overnight for bail in the morning on charges of causing a disturbance, obstruction and assault of a peace officer. Also correction - seven individuals were arrested (previously reported as eight individuals).

UPDATE (10:05pm): The first arrestee has been released.

UPDATE (5:45pm): Supporters are currently outside of Hamilton Central Police Station (155 King William St) waiting for the release of those arrested today. A noise rally is being planned for this evening at 7:30pm outside the station to demand their release.

 

Seven individuals were arrested today at a Hamilton courtroom solidarity action for Swamp Line 9 arrestees.

Friends and allies had gathered to support those arrested at a June anti-Line 9 action, called “Swamp Line 9”. After being told by the Judge in the John Sopinka Courthouse to “stop clapping or everyone will be asked to leave the court room”, some supporters continued to snap their fingers. One female supporter was asked to leave for disrupting court and then handcuffed and removed from the courtroom.
 
The courtroom erupted with those concerned about her safety and about 30 individuals rushed to where this supporter was being held. Police officers began to physically moved individuals outside the holding room while protestors chanted “Cops, Pigs, Murderers”. With nearly as many cops as protesters, police aggressively mass arrested those chanting, citing the Public Works Protection Act.

Awareness of the World War Two era Public Works Protection Act (PWPA) was heightened during the Toronto 2010 G20 summit where it was used to arbitrarily stop, search and arrest over a thousand individuals. During the summit, police interpreted the PWPA to have jurisdiction throughout the downtown core and spread misinformation about their increased powers. In the three years since the summit and the large public outcry that resulted, the act has not been revised or scrapped.

Proposed replacement legislation currently working its way through Queens Park, titled the “Security for Courts, Electricity Generating Facilities and Nuclear Facilities Act” has implications for court support. It establishes offences such as fines of up to $2000 and jail sentences of up to 60 days for individuals entering or attempting to enter a courthouse without identifying themselves, refusing to be searched, or “for failing to leave immediately upon demand”. Individuals can also be deemed a security risk and refused entry.

18 people were arrested during Swamp Line 9 in June after blockading the Enbridge North Westover Pump Station in the Beverly Swamp outside of Hamilton for 6 days. The bulk of the arrestees appeared in court today on trespass charges, while 4 others were charged with mischief and another with breaking and entering with intent to commit mischief.

Swamp Line 9 aimed to prevent construction on Line 9 and block the transport of Tar Sands oil through Ontario and Quebec. This action was also part of the Idle No More Sovereignty Summer campaign.
 


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