A demonstrator dressed as ‘Plywood Man’ is seen with police on the roof of federal NDP Leader Jack Layton’s Toronto office on Friday, Aug. 8, 2008.
Charges laid after ‘superheroes’ climb NDP office roof
Police have laid trespassing charges after protesters dressed as superheroes dropped a banner from the roof of federal NDP Leader Jack Layton’s Toronto office on Friday.
The demonstrators, one dressed as Spider-Man and the other as Plywood Man, said they were protesting for family law reform for fathers in custody disputes.
The incident at 221 Broadview Ave., near Dundas Street, was organized by Fathers 4 Justice.
Heavily armed Emergency Task Force officers responded to the incident and evacuated employees from the building as a precaution.
The man dressed as Spider-Man had planned to rappel down from the roof, but later surrendered to police.
However, Plywood Man refused to turn himself in. Officers used some kind of explosive device as a distraction and then moved in and made the arrest.
The men face charges of trespassing, mischief and vandalism. The protest tied up police for hours.
Layton, who wasn’t in the office, said he doesn’t know much about the group or why his office was targeted.
“It really just came out of the blue,” Layton told CTV Newsnet.
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An email from the group.
- At approximately 6AM members of F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada commandeered the rooftop of NDP Leader Jack Laytons constituency office located at 221 Broadview Avenue, Toronto, ON. With them were supplies to last for several days. Included in these supplies were food, change of clothes, shelter and a home made toilet consisting of a bucket and a pool ring.
- Two activists, Plywoodman and Spiderman remained on the rooftop for several hours out of sight and set up their lawnchairs to have a good rest and chat before the sh*t hit the fan.
- While waiting for their signal to initiate, the heros were seen by an onlooker having his morning cigarette on his balcony. No action was taken by any individuals at this time.
- At approximately 9:40AM the two heroes put their banner over the rooftop reading No Dads Party.
- The Supersonic Plymobile was stationed out front for added visual effect.
- At approximately 10:00AM the owner of the building arrived and told them to leave. He confronted the heros on the roof and told them to just jump. He also threw a bunch of their belongings about and returned to threaten them throughout.
- By approximately 10:30AM 680 news had arrived on scene and began broadcasting live from the scene every 20 mins.
- Shortly after 10:30AM the police arrived. Police were told this was a non-violent direct action being organized by F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada.
- At approx. 12:00PM the police were seen going to the rooftop with Tasers
- A firetruck was called and arrived on the scene.
- At approximately 12:30PM additional officers arrived and began cordoning off the street up to 4 blocks in total.
- ETF officers arrive on the scene.
- A negotiator arrives on the scene.
- At aproximately 12:50 PM a member of F4J was arrested on the ground.
- Another F4J Fathers 4 Justice representative arrives shortly thereafter to assess the scene and continue interviews and sending updates back to HO.
- The report is that heavily armed ETF officers are on scene. A police negotiator is on scene. A psychiatrist is on scene. A hydro truck is one scene. A firetruck is on scene. There are approximately 80-100 onlookers, some chanting, ” Let them see their kids!”
- Despite news reports that the constituency office had been evacuated, one of Jack Layton’s aids comes out to the back alley and has a cigarette with one of our supporters on the scene at approximately 2:00PM
- Other reports indicate that their were other staffers inside the Layton office who verified they knew of our organization and what our cause and issues were.
- At approximately 3:00PM Spiderman is brought down from the building on the understanding they will release him when his buddy on the roof comes down. He recounts being told by the police on the rooftop that they were going to be shot. He recounts that Plywoodman is in control, not as reported, and did a great job remaining calm while negotiating with the ETF. He also reports that the onsite psychiatrist has stated Plywoodman is indeed sane and not a threat to jump. ** global News report says he was down at 2:34 pm … but he also did not show up at police station until 5:30’ish
- Spiderman is held inside the Layton office for two hours while negotiations continue with Plywoodman on the roof. They keep asking him how they got up there. He tells them he is Spiderman. He is told by police they are going to shoot his buddy.
- At approximately 3:30PM Kris Titus, National Coordinator for F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada calls the 55 Division and speaks to the Sergeant on duty. She identifies herself and tells them she has been briefed on the situation they are dealing with. She asks if it would be helpful for her to attend the scene and assist the negotiators. The Sergeant says yes, that may be helpful, when you get there speak to Sergeant Walsh or Sergeant McGregor.
- Reports are that the officers on the scene were informed that the National Coordinator was on her way and what the purpose was.
- At approximately 5:00PM ETF officers deploy 3 flash grenades to distract Plywoodman while a significant contingent ( reports are 6-10 ) of ETF officers tackle him on the rooftop and take him into custody. ** you can see it on the CTV news coverage .. looks like 6 to me on the tackle with 3 -4 more hovering
- Kris arrives on the scene at approximately 5:45 and the only remaining individuals are one F4J representative, a traffic officer and tow truck and a 55 Division detective. The Plymobile gets towed to the police impound yard.
- At approximately 6:00PM Kris arrives at the police station to ensure
- That all three activists have been able to contact and speak to designated legal council
- That Plywoodman receives a medical examination as well as the proposed psychiatric assessment ( which he knew ahead of time they may send him for )
- What the proposed charges are if they will be released that evening.
- Trying to prohibit activists from wearing their F4J tshirts claiming they should be treated as ‘colors’ and compares it to Satan’s Choice bike gang. Judge thankfully says, this is a stretch.
- Crown makes argument that Mr. Layton has been ‘targeted’.
- Crown is able to convince judge to put in bail condition that the two charged activists cannot participate in ANY form of protest.
- The crown asks that one bail condition be that they cannot attend at ANY elected officials constituency office ( pronounced CONSTITUTION about 5 times by the Judge! ) without prior written permission.
- Activists are to be released on $10,000 bail!
- Crown asks both sureties if they feel police over reacted, both said in their opinion YES! Both reiterated it was a peaceful protest.
- Crown tries to establish that activist on the ground is ‘ring leader’.
- Ground support and Spiderman are released, both have since been told to remain quiet about events until they have been properly briefed by legal council.
- Plywoodman remains in custody and will hopefully be released Monday morning.
- Return date for first appearance for first two released is Friday, August 15th @ 10:00AM
- Other attorney approaches us outside courtroom and is expressing his ANGER at what was allowed to happen in the courtroom. Subsequently two more lawyers express their anger and dismay.
- Fathers 4 Justice UK member climbs judges house in England!
An open letter is being issued to Mr. Layton to answer on the issue of equal parenting and to assess if there is any change in support for M483. To be sent Monday AM.
Any constituents of Jack Layton please contact us to be included in this meeting should it occur.
If no response or insufficient response received by Thursday, August 14th in the PM a peaceful street level protest will be staged at 221 Broadview Avenue after the first appearance of the F4J Fathers 4 Justice superheros and support.
F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada will be making official complaint about police conduct and charter violations so as to protect our activists from such extreme measures. Please know that despite the measures used by police, F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada activists have NO INTENTION of stopping their current campaign and course of action. ( We do note that not all officers were hostile or aggressive! )
We will defend our right to peaceful protest and non-violent direct action.
Any questions please direct them specifically to myself
Kris Titus – National Coordinator, F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada,
Hal Legere – Legal Director – F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada,
Rob Robinson – National Action Coordinator, F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada.
We are greatly appreciative of all the support our activists have received.
The ratio of congrats to complains is approx 10:1.
FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS OF THE The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
EVERYONE HAS THE FOLLOWING FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS:
A) FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE AND RELIGION
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AND OTHER MEDIA OF COMMUNICATIONS;
C) FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY; AND
D) FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION
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Connie Brauer, activist