I admit it, the bard actually wrote “Double, double, toil and trouble” in the Scottish play. But in the light of the continuing aftermath of the Canadian G8/G20 debacle, the soap opera of international celebrity “Officer Bubbles” makes the often used misquote so terribly apropos.
View this Video with this YouTube Link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGMTm3QRwEc
View this video in OGG format: http://russwurm.org/hostess/frombubblestobookings.ogv
Over and over again, the peaceful protests against the G8/G20 summit were met with over-reaction and unmerited violence by the authorities. I assume the well paid security forces were operating on the theory that the best defense is a strong offense.
If you smash opposition mercilessly beneath your jackboots, perhaps protesters can be frightened away.
I would suspect the reason a social worker Courtney was arrested was simply that she was not cowed by “Officer Bubbles.” After the officer threatened her with arrest, Courtney put the bubbles away as he instructed. But she was not cowed. Although she complied with the order, she had the temerity to tell him that she did not feel respected. On camera. If you want to keep order, arresting anyone who is not frightened into backing down can seem to be a good thing.
Officer Bubbles was very much aware he was being filmed, placing the camera over the camera. It is only that this camera catches Courtney being arrested away from the action. While Officer Bubbles stands beside the officer who is actually cuffing the young woman, scanning the crowd, you can see him stiffen as he realizes that the camera has caught the arrest.
Knowing there were cameras everywhere, Officer Bubbles interjected himself in non-confrontational conversation being held between the other officer and the protester. The protester with the camera was directly in front of him, closer than the bubble blowing protester. Of course it was captured on video. Of course it went viral.
People all over the world have seen this video. It is all over YouTube. It has spawned cartoons and comments he apparently finds defamatory. Officer Bubbles is now attempting long distance intimidation by bringing lawsuits against people who made comments on the various YouTube video postings.
View this Video with this YouTube Link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H12AI6dkVIM
View this video in OGG format: http://russwurm.org/hostess/IntervieWwithElderlyWomenAttackedatG20TorontoJune2010.ogv
While Officer Bubbles considers being impacted by a soap bubble an assault, I am more inclined to think that being physically pushed around and thrown to the ground falls into the more universally understood definition of “assault.” Although this incident is “relatively mild,” I fail to see what purpose is served in manhandling elderly ladies — or anyone — exercising their democratic right to peaceful protest.
Learning that these particular grannies emigrated here to Canada in search of democratic freedom makes it all the more poignant.
View this Video with this YouTube Link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiLt40d_AbU
View this video in OGG format: http://russwurm.org/hostess/PoliceOpenFireOnPeacefulProtestersG20toronto2010.ogv
This is Canada. For the most part Canadians are deserving of our mild mannered and law abiding reputation. This does not preclude our ability to stand up for what is right. Dissent is an important part of democracy. Without it, there can be no democracy.
We have a tradition of peaceful protest. Clearly, these protesters sought to keep the protest peaceful. The forces of “law and order” did not.
View this Video with this YouTube Link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw2TokwsmKQ
View this video in OGG format: http://russwurm.org/hostess/G20TorontoPoliceFireAtWoman+PeacefulProtesters.ogv
Our government appears interested in crushing dissent in any way possible. Is this the Canada we want?
Is this the Canada our young people have fought and died for over the years? A Canada where free speech is suppressed, grannies are manhandled, and peaceful protesters are shot with dangerous weapons?
There are many many videos on You Tube, documenting peaceful protesters being run down by horses, herded like cattle, caught between a rock and a hard place. Where mass arrests are made as a deterrent.
To silence dissent.
An Invisible Abuse of Power
Byron Sonne was arrested before the G8/G20 even began.
A middle aged husband, a computer security expert with his own business, a homeowner, a concerned citizen active in the community.
Byron Sonne posted remarks on Twitter which caught the attention of the G8/G20 security forces monitoring Twitter. They searched Byron Sonne’s home, then arrested Byron and his wife (who has since been released) on a series of charges.
Charges that can be applied extraordinarily broadly:
- Possession of explosives for an unlawful purpose.
- Possession of dangerous weapons.
- Intimidation of a justice system participant by threat.
- Intimidation of a justice system participant by watch and beset.
- Attempted mischief.
— CBC Online: G20-related incident nets weapons charges
Sounds pretty scary, right? I’m not a lawyer, I’m a writer, but both exist within a framework of definitions. To understand what I mean about a broad application of the laws, offenses often include a range of actions. If you look at any law, you’ll find it begins with an extensive list of definitions.
Lets look at “Possession of explosives for an unlawful purpose.” Just by looking at an explosive, you can’t tell of it will be used for a lawful or unlawful purpose. That stick of dynamite might be intended to blow out a tree stump. They may even be a permit for it. Since Byron Somme is a security expert, it is not unreasonable to assume he might have material of this type for study. Proving “for an unlawful purpose” would be the hard part.
Even “explosives” have room for interpretation. At one end of the scale you find nuclear warheads. On the other you don’t even have to go to Toys R Us to buy a child’s chemistry set to make explosives, you can find the ingredients to make explosives in pretty much anyone’s kitchen. Fireworks are explosives too. It’s a work covering many things. Not too long ago Cory Doctorow provided the recipe for a smoke bomb he created as an adolescent on his popular boingboing site: Explosives
Or “dangerous weapons.” When I was a kid, my older brother built a slingshot capable of killing small animals. (It’s O.K., he didn’t grow up to join the NRA, these days he’s a sensitive artist.)
a few years of pre-trial custody
“Now that we’re looking at a few years of pretrial custody, this is something that’s taking off quite rapidly,” said James Arlen, a security consultant in Toronto and a longtime friend of Sonne’s.
—Toronto Star: ‘Free Byron’ campaign grows for man in G20 case denied bail
Whatever happened to the idea of “innocent until proven guilty” ?
I’ve never met Byron, and I only learned about his plight the other day at an Ubuntu Release Party. The publication ban prevents release of the facts in the case, but at the same time, I find it strange that he is being held without bail when black bloc protesters who actually acted have been released.
Four months later he is still incarcerated without bail. This is a Canadian citizen who has not been convicted of anything. In a country where accused murderers routinely get bail. What is going on? It certainly looks as though Byron Sonne is a political prisoner. In Canada.
I can’t believe this is happening here.
Visit the Free Byron website if you want to help. There are links to the published articles, and advice on the different ways we can help Byron get through this ordeal. Donations to his defense fund would be appreciated, but I’ve been told that he is in need reading matter, and very much appreciates receiving letters from people.
Of course the thing Byron needs most is his freedom. Don’t we all?
I’ve also written about this in my personal blog