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'Free Marc Emery' Protest Goes Awry


Nug of the Month: Aug 2008
What was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration outside MP Rob Nicholson's office on Thursday afternoon resulted in the arrest of two men.

Jacob Hunter of Vancouver and Eric Crompton from Toronto were both arrested by officers from the Niagara Regional Police Services outside Nicholson's Niagara Falls office. The protest, organized by the Free Marc Emery Campaign, was targeted at Nicholson, Niagara Falls MP, because in his role as Canadian Minister of Justice, Nicholson was the person who signed the extradition order for Emery. Marc Emery is a Canadian cannabis activist and former cannabis seeds seller who was sentenced to five years in a United States prison on drug charges stemming from his cannabis seed selling business.

Thursday's planned protest was the latest in a series of similar demonstrations that have taken place across the country over the last few months. On May 19, Emery supporters successfully staged a sit-in at Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office in Calgary. The Niagara Falls demonstration, however, is the first time someone has been arrested at such a protest.

"We've had seven demonstrations in British Columbia, around the Vancouver area, and we've occupied four other offices across the country. The police have been called every time, but we've been able to have peaceful negotiations with them in each instance," said Davin Christensen, founder of the Toronto Hash Mob, one of the groups involved in the protest. "In (Nicholson's) office hangs the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and under Section 20 of that Charter, we have the right to enter and set up a meeting with any member of Parliament."

The protesters arrived in two waves: one small contingent in a car and a larger group in a bus.

Hunter and Crompton, the two men arrested, were among the passengers in the car, which arrived at the demonstration site first. Jodie Emery, wife of Marc, was also in the car. She said that when they arrived, they tried to enter Nicholson's office but it was locked. After knocking on the door, a female office worker opened it but would not let her in, instead asking for identification. After Jodie provided her identification, the woman said the office was closed and shut and locked the door. Moments later, according to Jodie, an police officer arrived on motorcycle.

At this point, the protesters began videotaping what was happening. The video shows a police officer telling the protesters to put the cameras away because they are "considered weapons."

The officer was about to enter Nicholson's office, but instead turned around and arrested Hunter for assault. Jodie said Crompton was arrested a short time later for obstruction of justice while he was employing the "Hug Power" technique, which is when a protester hugs someone who is being arrested.

The bus arrived shortly after the arrests were made and the protest carried on as planned, but outside of the building while several NRPS officers looked on.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Pat Simpson was also on the scene.

"I'm just here to oversee the peaceful demonstration," he said. "Nothing seems to be out of hand here."

There were about 15 people demonstrating outside Nicholson's office, waving flags and shouting into bullhorns. People came from Vancouver, Toronto, Hamilton and Waterloo to participate in the protest.

"We need to get straight to politicians, who usually get to hide from the public in their private jets and in Parliament," said Jodie. "The only place to get close to them is to go to their offices, which are our offices, and we were locked out. There's no reason to not let us in."

According to Sgt. Simon Gischard with 2 District, it had not yet been determined whether the two men would be released on bail.

NewsHawk: Ganjarden: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: NiagaraThisWeek.com
Author: Melinda Cheevers
Contact: NiagaraThisWeek.com
Copyright: 2010 Metroland
Website: 'Free Marc Emery' protest goes awry
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