Toronto Action for Social Change
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Toronto, ON M6C 1C0

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Demonstrators Defy Queen's Park Ban; Stockwell Insists Threat of Arrest Remains

House Speaker informs TASC its members may receive court summons in wake of King Day gathering

Today, almost sixty people joined 8 activists, who are banned from Queen's Park, to defy the ban in a peaceful speak-out to celebrate Martin Luther King Day and the civil rights movement. Despite a heavy police presence, there was no immediate action on House Speaker Chris Stockwell's earlier warning that those defying the ban would be arrested. Later in the day, however, Stockwell did state that a court summons could still be issued to all those who defied the ban, an event which seems likely given that Queen's Park security spent a good deal of time making a videotape of the event.

The ban arose from the pouring of water-soluble blood by TASC members on an outside wall of the legislature on October 1 to mark the many deaths attributable to the implementation of welfare cuts in 1995. Today Stockwell clarified that the demonstrators are welcome back to Queen's Park if they sign an undertaking not to vandalize the building. TASC members were not charged on October 1 with vandalizing the building (they were simply issued a trespass ticket), and have said on more than one occasion they would be willing to sign such a document if the Harris government stopped vandalizing the people and property of Ontario.

TASC also points to a significant court ruling by Justice Paul Bentley, which indicates that such symbolic protests should, in the words of Justice Bentley, not only be allowed but encouraged.

"With a provincial election looming, the Harris government wants to erase any trace of what they would see as embarrassing demonstrations, and that's why we're seeing these bans at Queen's Park. But we have a right, and a responsibility, to be there as often as possible to stand up against the damage this government's policies have caused," said TASC spokesperson amanda hiscocks, one of the banned activists.

Opponents of the ban are urged to contact Chris Stockwell's office at 325-7435.

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