G20 Defendant Leah Henderson Sentenced to 10 Months in Jail

Posted: December 20, 2011 in Toronto G20 Defense
Tags: , , , , ,

Woman who counselled G20 window-smashing sentenced to 10 months in prison

Megan O’Toole, National Post, Dec 20, 2011



A self-described “anarchist” who counselled others to smash store windows during G20 protests in Toronto last year has been sentenced to 10 months in prison.

Leah Henderson was among a group of six who pleaded guilty in November to counselling the commission of mischief in the run-up to the 2010 world leaders’ summit, where a small group of violent protesters wreaked havoc in the downtown core.

In delivering the sentence Tuesday, Justice Lloyd Budzinski drew a distinction between historical social-justice causes — such as the U.S. civil rights movement — and the behaviour of the G20 accused.

“The approach was to place your beliefs above the rights and safety of others,” Judge Budzinski said, contrasting this with figures like Martin Luther King Jr., who took “the high ground.”

Henderson, who identified herself as an “anarchist” but is also a trained paralegal, was arrested after undercover police infiltrated G20 protest planning meetings. According to an agreed statement of facts, officers observed Henderson, who held a place of prominence within the group, encourage members to smash the windows of businesses and commit other property damage.

There was no evidence anyone she counselled actually participated in the violent downtown riots, which saw a small group of Black Bloc protesters attack businesses and set police cars ablaze.

Judge Budzinski said Henderson’s level of participation merited a sentence of 11 to 12 months, but with pretrial custody and restrictive bail conditions taken into account, her ultimate sentence was 10 months. The judge’s ruling was in agreement with a joint Crown-defence submission.

“The accused’s actions are antithetical to the rule of law [and] caused harm to the freedom of expression rights of all lawful and peaceful protesters,” Crown attorney Jason Miller said, noting their message was “forgotten” in the larger riots.

While the case has raised issues around the competing interests of freedom of expression and Canadian law, he said, Henderson’s offence was “not even close” to constituting Charter-protected speech.

The court was packed with Henderson’s supporters, some of whom sniggered and made derogatory remarks as Mr. Miller spoke, prompting the judge to intervene at one point.

Henderson, 27, was also given a chance to address the court, saying she had been “deeply and profoundly affected” by her arrest and the ensuing process. In a brief statement later posted online, she rejected Canada’s legal system and decried “the distorted mirror that hides of the lies of capitalism.”

“This entire prosecution is born from the politics of fear,” Henderson said, before being led off in handcuffs as supporters chanted her name.

Three of her co-accused are already serving prison sentences, while two others were scheduled to be sentenced next month.

National Post


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