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Ottawa Chalk artists say they were questioned by police over critical messages

Two women say they were questioned by officers for drawing messages critical of police with chalk on the pathways of Dundonald Park in Centretown.

The messages included “Police systemic racism hurts us” and “Care, not cops’” as well as calls to defund police and messages supporting Abdirahman Abdi, the Black man who died after he was chased and apprehended in July 2016. Another message called for the firing of Ottawa Police Association president Matt Skof.


Michael Spratt, a lawyer for Wellar, said if permanent paint is used and it interferes with the lawful enjoyment of public property, mischief charges could be laid, but this was not the case.
Moreover, Wellar’s right to freedom of expression is protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, he said.“Most shocking is that the city spent money to eliminate the messages:”

Spratt added that his client was also illegally detained. When police impose “investigative detention” they must have reasonable grounds. The person being detained must be given the reason for the detention, and must be allowed to contact a lawyer, he said.

“There were not grounds for investigative detention — no hate messages, no property damage,” said Spratt.


Read Joanne Laucius’s full article: Ottawa Citizen

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