Crown appeal against peaceful protestor Evan Blackman in court today

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Crown appeal against peaceful protestor Evan Blackman in court today

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OTTAWA, ON: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms announces that the appeal hearing in the case of Evan Blackman takes place today, June 19, 2024, starting at 10 AM ET in Courtroom #37 at the Ottawa Courthouse: 161 Elgin Street, Ottawa.

The Ottawa Crown Attorney’s Office is appealing Evan Blackman’s acquittal following a one-day trial on October 23, 2023. Mr. Blackman was arrested on February 18, 2022, and charged with the Criminal Code offences of mischief and obstructing police for his attendance in downtown Ottawa in February 2022. Mr. Blackman pled “not guilty” to all charges.

At the time of Mr. Blackman’s arrest, the police were conducting an “enforcement action” to clear streets of protestors. This action followed the federal cabinet’s February 14 invocation of the Emergencies Act  – later ruled illegal by a Canadian court.

The evidence against Mr. Blackman consisted of a 14-minute drone video (with no audio) and the testimony of one officer who was directly on scene. During approximately nine minutes of the video, Mr. Blackman is seen as part of a group of protestors who were face-to-face with a line of police officers on Rideau Street. In one part of the video, Mr. Blackman is seen deescalating a situation by holding other protestors back and by putting his hand up to stop protestors from confronting police.

Five minutes before his arrest, Mr. Blackman is seen kneeling in front of the police. While on his knees, he takes off his hat, puts his hands on his chest, and sings “O Canada.”

Mr. Blackman was arrested and released from custody on the same day. It was after his release that he discovered that he could not access three of his bank accounts. These had been frozen pursuant to the Emergency Economic Measures Order.

At his October 2023 trial, the Judge dismissed all charges against Mr. Blackman because of limited evidence and the testifying police officer’s poor memory of key elements of the alleged criminal offences.

Despite this clear victory, the Crown alleges in its appeal that the trial judge committed a number of legal errors, including:

  • Applying a flawed analysis of party liability;
  • Misapprehending the evidence; and
  • Misstating the intention required to be found guilty of obstructing police.

Chris Fleury, lawyer for Mr. Blackman, stated, “Mr. Blackman and I are looking forward to our day in Court to refute the Crown’s claim that the trial judge was mistaken when he acquitted Mr. Blackman. The trial judge agreed with us that Mr. Blackman was at times a ‘peacemaker’ and took actions which deescalated a volatile confrontation between protestors and police. An acquittal was the only decision available on the evidence.”

Chris Fleury went on to say that if Mr. Blackman’s acquittal is overturned on appeal, he intends to bring an application for a stay of proceedings under section 24(1) of the Charter, seeking a remedy for the freezing of Mr. Blackman’s bank account.

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