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On August 31, 2012, at Metrotown Skytrain Station near Vancouver, Canada, Transit police officers and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) assaulted, handcuffed and removed three activists that were peacefully distributing the Fire This Time newspaper (FTT).
Because FTT is a non-commercial, free social justice newspaper, the officers had no legal ground to stop the distribution. It is clear that the aim of the assault was to intimidate and harass social justice activists, which is political targeting as FTT publishes many articles against war and in support of social justice struggles in Canada, from Indigenous rights to labour organizing.
The activists were distributing the FTT newspaper without incident at the Metrotown Skytrain Station. After an hour, two transit police officers arrived and immediately began telling the four of them that they needed to leave the station and stop distributing. They showed the officers and read aloud the publicly posted Transit rules available on large boards in every skytrain station. These rules state that, "printed material for non-commercial purposes will be permitted on transit properties, other than transit vehicles or fare-paid zones," provided distribution does not impede transit traffic or operations.
Openly showing no respect for the posted rules and referring to other rules that were no posted, the police justified the arrest with the mere excuse that they had ordered the activists to leave and had been shown no obedience.
Once and again, they used violence to subdue the activists, handcuffing them and even grabbing one of them (Thomas Davies) by the neck. Once and again, the arrested asked: "Why are we being arrested?" "What have we done?" "What laws have we broken?" These questions were never answered. Back-up mounted police arrived, and over three officers were “necessary” to apprehend three peaceful activists who used NO violence at all.
Some video footage was made of the incident with the cell phone of one of the victims, but after the item was grabbed by the police and they were released without charges, the video had been erased from the phone.
The reason why there were no charges was that they had broken no Transit rules and had been targeted because of the political nature of the FTT newspaper.