Inaugural ticket issued at violent University of Calgary crackdown disappears

Inaugural ticket issued at violent University of Calgary crackdown disappears
Police in riot gear line up at the University of Calgary, hours before advancing on protesters demanding disclosure of University investments in the genocide of Palestinians.

Court dates for University of Calgary encampment began this week. With the first issued ticket failing to reach the prosecutor, police dodged evidence disclosure. This should raise questions around police accountability.

Update, June 18, 2024: The arresting officer showed up at Euan Thomson's home on June 17 and reissued the ticket, with a new court date set for August 1. If the case moves to trial after that, he can seek disclosure of evidence from Calgary Police.

At the first court date for tickets the Calgary Police Service issued as part of their violent crackdown on peaceful protesters at the University of Calgary, plaintiff Euan Thomson showed up only to find that there was no record of his ticket. 

Thomson, a 38-year-old University of Calgary alumnus, was issued a trespassing ticket on May 9 after a militarized police force charged unarmed students and community members after the encampment had been taken down. Police struck Thomson in the head multiple times, resulting in a concussion, a sprained finger, and facial lacerations

Thomson’s court date was the first of five scheduled for protesters so far. The next dates are on June 18, June 27, July 26 and August 9. 

“I want disclosure. I want the bodycam footage, police journal entries, and legal statements,” said Thomson. “This isn't justice, it's suppression.” 

Thomson, a drug policy advocate, has filed three police complaints and three freedom of information requests for communications, badge numbers, and bodycam footage. 

“There is a legal imperative to process these tickets. Police can't just walk around handing out tickets to silence dissent and then letting them die on their desks,” Thomson continued.

Despite Thomson’s ticket for trespass failing to reach the courts, Calgary Police Service Chief Constable Mark Neufeld cited trespassing as the reason for the university calling on police to intervene. 

While critics have attempted to discredit community support as the work of ‘outside agitators,’ students have strongly supported the integration of Calgarians into debate on their campus.  

“The university touts itself often, in mission statements, in funding applications and grants, and in marketing material, as being an integral part of the wider Calgary community, and researchers are so often encouraged to think about how our work can include people outside of this ivory tower,” said Katelyn Anderson, a PhD student and Calgary Student Movement (CSM) organizer, who also sustained a concussion during the violent crackdown. 

“Our movement has been largely student-led, and it has been encouraging to have support and engagement from people from outside the academy to help us navigate these difficult conversations,” Anderson said.  

On May 13, the Alberta government requested the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) look into police actions in clearing pro-Palestinian encampments at the University of Calgary and University of Alberta. The volume of police misconduct charges and close relationship between ASIRT and police have raised concerns that “the oversight body is just a facade.” 

The Calgary Police Commission voted May 29 that the unprecedented use of violence against unarmed students was not “a major policing event," and that the cost of the unprecedented intervention does not merit an accounting to Calgarians or to Albertans. 

At the University of Calgary, calls for an independent investigation are being debated this week at the university Senate, General Faculties Council – comprising faculty and student representatives across the school’s departments – at Board of Governors meetings. 

Background 

University of Calgary administration, led by President Ed McCauley, requested that the Calgary Police Service dismantle the student-built encampment on May 9, just hours after it was set up. That invitation resulted in militarized police using non-lethal weapons on unarmed students that included teargas, pepper spray, grenades, batons, and riot shields.

Multiple students and community members left campus in ambulances, with injuries ranging from concussions and lacerations to a broken rib. 

The disproportionate response has been widely condemned by the university community with an open letter signed by 623 faculty, students, alumni and organizations including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Amnesty International

About the Calgary Student Movement 

The Calgary Student Movement (CSM) is a student-led, community-supported coalition of individuals who have come together around the encampment to demand the University of Calgary divest from investments that profit from Israel’s surveillance, occupation, and genocide of Palestinians. CSM’s demands can be found here.

Contact

Media Liaison, Calgary Student Movement

calgarystudentmovement@gmail.com

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