Yesterday afternoon, the London Police raided a house and confiscated thousands of dollars worth of computers and video equipment. Their justification? A single act of graffiti.
Mike Roy and Bailey Lamon are both members of The Indignants, a media collective that covers stories relevant to the marginalized and under-represented. Mike is a founding member of The Indignants: he and Bailey have traveled far and wide covering indigenous, social, environmental and animal rights issues. The Indignants is probably best known for their breaking coverage of Occupy London Ontario, the protests around the closing of the Caterpillar manufacturing plant, and of IdleNoMore actions in the London area. Mike Roy and the Indignants are also contributing members of the Media Co-op.
New details emerged late on Thursday night with regards to the arrests. It would seem that Bailey's partner who was eventually arrested later was originally allowed to leave. He was arrested a short time later when he returned with Mike. At some time during their overnight incarceration Mike and Bailey were offered early release if they agreed to a number of conditions. They were asked to sign a paper stating that they would not access the internet, associate with each other or participate in activism; they both refused to sign. This is part of pattern of police attempting to silence and frighten activists using minor offenses. They were released after a hearing in the afternoon with conditions to not possess markers or paint and keep the peace.
The London police have released a statement that they are being investigated for graffiti, specifically a graffiti on a downtown building reading "I'm not just another brick in the wall." Mike Roy and Bailey Lamon are being charged with mischief and possession of "marihuana" as is a third person. The confiscation of computers and other devices was also noted in the police statement. Mike and Bailey were released this afternoon with a notice to return to court on August 15.
Sakura Saunders, an activist and journalist of ProtestBarrick said "a house raid and the confiscation of equipment is an overblown reaction to an eventual charge of graffiti on one wall. Mike and Bailey are social justice media makers, covering activist movements. It seems obvious to me that the police are using petty charges to violate privacy and gain intelligence on social movements."
This fits in with a pattern in London, Ontario of persecuting activists severely for minor charges. In the leadup to the 2010 G20 protests, activists were arrested and jailed overnight for putting up posters in London, Ontario.
This story has been live-updated as we have learned more.
Update 2:45PM July 25th: Bailey and Mike have been released. They are next scheduled to appear in court for a hearing on August 15.
Update 12:36PM July 25th: The London police have released a statement that they are being investigated for graffiti, specifically a graffiti on a downtown building reading "I'm not just another brick in the wall." Mike Roy and Bailey Lamon are being charged with mischeif and possesion of "marihuana" as is a third person.
Update 1:12AM July 25th: The police forcefully entered the apartment with warrants to collect computers, hard drives, cameras, memory cards and other digital media. More charges may follow.
Update 1:06AM July 25th: Mike and Bailey will be appearing in London Ontario Court at 9:45AM. A Facebook page has been created to co-ordinate court support.
Corrections: It was earlier reported that Mike and Bailey would be appearing in court via video conference. It has now been confirmed they will appear in person. It was originally reported that they had been charged with conspiracy as well, this is not the case. Bailey Lamon was originally misidentified as Bailey Goldman-Sagan, her Facebook alias. The Media Co-Op regrets these errors and appreciates our readers' patience as this story develops.