Erik Fountas was peacefully expressing his beliefs on a public sidewalk when Toronto Police charged him with obstructing a street.
Around noon on February 2, 2016, Erik Fountas and a colleague began expressing their opinions to members of the public in Toronto, near the corner of Yonge Street and Gould Street. Erik was speaking on a wide sidewalk area, near a large concrete staircase that leads up to a Ryerson University building. Erik was speaking at the street edge of the sidewalk, facing toward the staircase, when a small crowd formed in front of him.
The Toronto Police Service (TPS) received a complaint about a comment Erik allegedly made while he was speaking to the small group of listeners. Two TPS officers requested that Erik leave. When he refused, they issued him a ticket for “encumbering a street” and therefore violating 313-2A of the Toronto Municipal Code. The By-law in question stated:
“No person shall obstruct, encumber, injure or foul or cause or permit the obstructing, encumbering, injuring or fouling of any street.”
The TPS officers claimed that the crowd listening to Erik was so large that it blocked entirely the passage of pedestrians on the Gould Street sidewalk.
The Justice Centre represented Erik as he challenged the ticket and defended his Charter section 2(b) freedom of expression. Several days before the trial (scheduled for May 29, 2017) the Crown withdrew the charges.