Criminalization of dissent spreads to the internet: OPP arrest AW@L member for blog post about G20 police infiltration

August 30th, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Criminalization of dissent spreads to the internet:

OPP arrest AW@L member for blog post about G20 police infiltration

Kitchener, Grand River Territory –On August 25th 2011, AW@L member and independent journalist Dan Kellar was pulled over and arrested by detectives from the OPP’s Anti-Rackets Branch (ARB)—the same unit that has been involved in arresting six other AW@L members and more than a dozen others in connection with G20 related allegations.

From Kitchener, Kellar was taken to the OPP station in Cambridge where he was charged with 2 counts of unlawfully publishing materials that is likely to injure the reputation of an undercover officer in a way that is designed to insult the officer (also known as criminal defamation), and one count of counseling his blog followers to commit the indictable offence of assault which offence was not committed (also known as counsel to assault). Kellar was released to a crowd of friends and supporters, with various bail conditions including restrictions limiting internet usage.

Kellar is alleged to have written a blog post on peaceculture.org (AW@L's website) which reported the sighting of a man known to activists as “Khalid Mohamed”, who infiltrated social justice groups in Southern Ontario over the past 2 years. Khalid Mohamed was identified on the website snitchwire.com, in a posting from July 2010, as being an undercover police officer.

The OPP ordered Kellar to remove the post from AW@L’s website as a condition for his release. He is also to stay more than 500 meters from Khalid Mohamed and Brenda Doherty, another person known by activists to be an undercover police officer, also named in Kellar’s post and on snitchwire.com. Kellar’s post on peaceculture.org, included the phrase, “spit in his foot steps and scoff at his existence,” and also referred to Khalid Mohamed as “garbage.” These were the only allegedly injurious statements contained in the post.

“There is obviously no crime here,” said AW@L member Rachel Avery. “This is yet another example of the police trying to criminalize speech when they don’t like what we’re saying,” she concluded.

The lead officer on Kellar's August 25 arrest, OPP ARB Detective-Sergeant John vanden Heuvel, threatened to track down and arrest anyone who reposted the message.

D/Sgt vanden Heuvel is the same detective who, along with more than a half-dozen OPP officers, arrested AW@L member Alex Hundert for speaking on a University panel in Toronto last September 17. He is also the same detective who threatened the sureties of several G20 defendants after accused activists conducted interviews with media outlets.

Dan Kellar's arrest comes amidst a crackdown on dissent that began prior to the Toronto G20 summit in June 2010 and which brought infiltrators to community groups in southern Ontario and across the country. Many organisers, including a number from AW@L, were targeted for arrest during the weekend of the summit and are still facing charges. But after a billion-dollar security budget, an overwhelming majority of the 1100 arrested during the G20 were not even charged, being merely swept off the street in an attempt to curb protests.

Davin Charney, founder of the Centre for Police Accountability and also Dan Kellar’s lawyer, speaking about these charges, said that “Criminal defamation is a section of the criminal code that is rarely used, easily subject to abuse and historically originates in initiatives by the Crown to criminalize political opposition.”

Emily Slofstra, a supporter of AW@L and former volunteer at the now defunct KW Community Centre for Social Justice said, “Kellar's arrest sends yet another a message to activists that we are indeed living in a climate where dissent is surveilled and criminalized, and further, that acting to protect our own communities will be met with animosity from the system.”

Slofstra added, “As the impacts of austerity measures, racist immigration policies and the Conservative’s ‘Law and Order’ agenda are used as premises for police crackdowns in already targeted communities, we have ever-increasing need to support and protect each other.”

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Contact:
Davin Charney LLB, 226 747 2317
Emily Slofstra, 519 998 9263

*This release was put together without input from Dan Kellar; he did not cause this release to be written or posted.