By Kayla Perry
The SCAP-11 returned to court last week, pleading not guilty to charges of trespassing in Sudbury MP Rick Bartolucci’s office. For four of those members, charges were dropped.
“We are very relieved,” said SCAP-11 member Gary Kinsman.
The SCAP-11’s first appearance in court this month was Oct. 28, where they were scheduled for a half-day trial. Three days later, on Oct. 31, the group returned for a full day of trial proceedings.
Clarissa Lassaline and Robert Day were among those who were acquitted. Phillip Marsh and Martin Boucher also had the charges against them dropped.
Donald Kuyek, the group’s lawyer, motioned for the charges to be dropped against the four due to a lack of evidence against Dey and Boucher, and the fact that the arresting officers did not identify Lassaline and Marsh in the courtroom during proceedings.
“The crown’s case was very slow,” said Kinsman. “As you can see from four of the members having charges dropped against them, the crown was not even able to prove a case on the technical grounds of actual identification of our members.”
For the other seven SCAP members, whose charges still stand, another court date is set for Nov. 12, where the group will continue their defense.
“I’m much more hopeful now (that charges against the remaining members will be dropped) than I would have been before this week,” said Kinsman. “(Those with charges remaining) really don’t know what will be decided, but are looking forward to getting our defense going. We still believe we had every right to do what we did in setting up the mock emergency homelessness center.”
The 11 members of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty were arrested in MPP Rick Bartolucci office on Nov. 9 of last year, after setting up a mock homeless shelter in Bartolucci’s office in order to dramatize what would happen after cuts were made to the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit. The 11 arrested were removed from the premises, and charged with trespassing.
The group received a short letter of support, written by John Clarke, organizer of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.
“Talking of ‘your’ local MPP, he is the perfect representative of the mean spirited austerity agenda his government stands for,” Clarke wrote in the letter. “He would not meet you the day you went to his office and hides behind ‘parliamentary privilege’ to avoid having to deal with the issue in court.”
On Oct. 18, SCAP returned to Bartolucci’s office, hoping to speak with the MPP and discuss the cuts that have been made, and how they are affecting people in Sudbury, although they were unable to meet with Bartolucci.