Groups of lawyers ‘alarmed’ by lawyer’s arrest outside Ford’s rally near Hamilton airport

The Criminal Lawyers’ Association and Women In Canadian Criminal Defense (WICCD) are critical of the arrest of a Toronto lawyer near an Ontario Progressive Conservative campaign stop in Hamilton last Thursday.

“We are alarmed that any citizen, let alone a member of our profession, is treated by the police – ostensibly on behalf of an elected official – with such disregard for the electoral process and the right to exercise freedom of expression. Both are the cornerstones of our democracy,” reads the joint statement released on Monday.

Sa’d said last week that she tried to participate in a rally for PC leader Doug Ford near Hamilton airport. She said she agreed to attend the event, but staff wouldn’t let her in and they called the police for trespassing.

She was eventually arrested before being released from the property and given a trespassing ticket.

Hamilton police initially said she was arrested for blocking a road and being on private property amid a protest.

Sa’d and the group that organized the protest said that was not true. They said she was not part of the group protesting and that she was arrested long before any protests occurred.

Sa’d said she believed she was not allowed to attend the event and was eventually arrested due to her criticism of Ford and other political leaders. She has a huge presence on social media for her cartoons and videos that criticize politicians and people protesting against public health measures.

On Monday afternoon, Hamilton police issued a ‘clarification’, saying Sa’d was asked to leave the event and did not comply, she was arrested, released from the property and sentenced fined for trespassing.

“After taking a closer look at the incident, we felt that clarification was required regarding the reason for the arrest,” police spokesperson Jackie Penman told CBC Hamilton, adding that the case was before the courts.

Penman said the officers acted under the Law on trespassing on property. She did not respond to questions about whether officers made their own assessment before making the arrest or whether they were acting solely on a complaint from PCs or event representatives.

The PC Party declined to answer questions from CBC Hamilton on Monday and last week about the incident.

“Chilling effect” on BIPOC communities: lawyer groups

Asked about the incident at a campaign stop on Friday, Ford did not directly respond to a question about whether he supported the arrest or the ticket.

“I want to thank the Hamilton police. They always have a hard job,” he said in response.

The lawyers’ association and the WICCD said Sa’d had never been violent when he attended political rallies and other events, but was asked to leave CP rallies in the past.

Sa’d, a Toronto lawyer, says she shouldn’t have been denied entry to Ford’s rally in Hamilton because of her views. (Taylor Simmons/CBC)

They say this shows that she was refused entry and ultimately charged because her political views do not match those of the PCs.

“Those seeking public office must remember the will of the people and the right to political dissent. We reject the use of the criminal justice system, a blunt tool, as a method to stifle such dissent,” the officials said. legal groups.

They also said the fact that Sa’d is a woman of color will have a “chilling effect” on equity-seeking communities.