Thursday, December 30, 2010

Update on Roger Clement and Ottawa Comrades

Roger is still in prison. Claude is still going to court. People still need your love and support. OMD is still fund raising. Join the FB group, donate, write a letter to roger, get involved, support prisoners and political prisoners.

FB group:!/pages/Ottawa-Movement-Defense/119652828099161

We will be organizing a letter writing night for roger and other prisoners in early - mid january. And we are planning to have a fund raising party in the spring, hopefully around march. The J18 defendants still have significant legal costs, so if you can donate, it is much appreciated. Better yet, organize a fund-raiser in your community. Let us know what you are doing, and feel free to contact us if there is anything we can do to help, or if you would like someone from OMD to speak at your event.

What follows is a recent article by Sara Falconer from Ottawa XPress

Community Garden
Sara Falconer

Matthew Morgan-Brown is getting ready to visit Roger Clement in jail. It's only been a few short weeks since Morgan-Brown's own charges in the May 18 RBC firebombing were stayed due to lack of evidence, but already he is focused on making sure that his friend has the support he needs. Indeed, talking to him, it's clear that one of the things he found most difficult in the months following his arrest was not being able to help others. "Not being able to organize was really shitty. It's very important to me," he says. "The day they lifted my conditions I started organizing again." He has long been an active member of Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa (IPSMO), and has now joined Ottawa Movement Defense, a group originally formed to support the three people arrested on June 18: himself, Joseph Roger Clement and Claude Haridge.

On Dec. 7, Clement was sentenced to a term of three years and six months, having pled guilty to the arson at the Glebe branch of the Royal Bank, as well as smashing windows and ATMs at a different branch in February. It's an unusually harsh sentence for property damage crimes, given that both the defence and Crown attorneys acknowledged he took great care to eliminate any possible injury to people.

In a statement, Ottawa Movement Defense said that they were inspired by Clement's strength of character: "Even when offered the chance to apologize for his role in the firebombing, Roger refused to do so, even though his liberty was on the line." The 58-year-old

former civil service employee is well known to local activists from years of social justice organizing. "I think he's a really principled person," says Morgan-Brown, who has known Clement for several years. Haridge, who was never charged with arson, has his last day in court this week. Most of the charges against him have been stayed, other than a charge for improper storage of ammunition, and unrelated charges from a protest several years ago.

The publication ban on the case has finally been lifted, but Morgan-Brown still finds it hard to speak freely. He's on a relatively short leash, as his charges have only been stayed, not dismissed - the Crown still has a year in which it can reinstate them.

Having spent time in jail before being released on bail, he knows first-hand how much community solidarity can mean. "When I was inside, I definitely felt like there was quite a bit of support," he says. "I enjoyed getting lots of letters."

Now working at his job again and devoting his spare time to activism, he says he is grappling with the psychological scars of the arrest and months of uncertainty. "The only concern I have is to avoid pushing myself too hard. It was definitely a traumatic experience."

As he looks forward to speaking to Clement for the first time since their arrests - albeit through a heavy plastic visiting window - he hopes that the community will continue to support them and other organizers fighting charges across the country. "My thoughts are with the people who were arrested on conspiracy or other G20 charges, with massive bail restrictions," he says. "People are looking at trials two years from now, because part of their punishment is those conditions, regardless of anything else around their cases."

1 comment:

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