Toronto G20: Leah Henderson sentenced to 10 months in jail

From the Toronto Star:

One of the most prominent anti-G20 Toronto anarchists remained defiant Tuesday while being sentenced to 10 months in jail for counselling mischief.

“I stand here guilty of breaking your laws, not the laws of justice,” Leah Henderson, 27, told provincial court Justice Lloyd Budzinsky.

“I submit to your jails because today you hold all the weapons,” she told a Finch Ave. W. courtroom packed with her supporters.

Henderson and her then-boyfriend, Alex Hundert, were arrested in their west Toronto apartment after police stormed in during the early hours of June 26, 2010, the second day of the G20 summit.

She did not participate in protests where some people smashed windows and set fire to police cruisers, but pleaded guilty Nov. 22 to counselling others to commit mischief.

It has not been proved that anyone she advised went on to commit crimes.

“This entire prosecution was borne of the politics of fear — fear of our ideas,” said the self-described anarchist.

She told the judge she responded to the G20 as a person of conscience and as part of a community that envisages a “future that is truly free.”

Defence lawyer Brydie Bethell said Henderson, who grew up in Alberta, is committed to social justice and the anarchist ideal of non-hierarchical, locally driven communities.

But Crown prosecutor Jason Miller said Henderson and others used the G20 “to exercise dissent in a criminal and violent fashion,” thus harming the freedom of expression of peaceful demonstrators.

Miller said she has shown a degree of maturity lacking in many fellow accused. “Ms Henderson knew better,” he said.

“It seems apparent to me that Ms Henderson realized at some point that this got away from her.”

During Miller’s comments, some spectators sniggered, drawing a warning from the judge.

The judge said Henderson’s politics and beliefs are not being punished, just her criminal behaviour. “Your approach was to put your beliefs above the safety … of others,” he said.

He accepted a joint sentencing submission from defence and Crown, sending her to jail for 10 months on top of the 24 days she spent in custody before making bail.

Henderson smiled as she was handcuffed to be led away, friends chanting: “Leah, Leah, Leah.”

On Nov. 22, in the middle of a preliminary hearing, she and five others pleaded guilty to counselling mischief.

Erik Lankin, 24; Peter Hopperton, 25; and Adam Lewis, 23, have all been sentenced for their roles.

Amanda Hiscocks, 37, and Hundert, 31, who both pleaded guilty to an additional charge of counselling to obstruct a peace officer, are yet to be sentenced.

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