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Solidarity with Anton Bueckert

Council of Canadians honorary chairperson Maude Barlow has tweeted her solidarity with 29-year-old Canadian activist Anton Bueckert.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a Toronto-based non-governmental organization supported by Canadian journalists and advocates of freedom of expression, has reported that Bueckert was arrested on August 22 at the St. Clair River-U.S.-Canada border crossing while en route to the Burning Man arts festival in Nevada.

The CJFE article notes, “Bueckert faced a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge in connection with a March 4 demonstration at a Donald Trump rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he and five other activists were alleged to have assaulted a Trump supporter at that protest. Later in March, Bueckert was informed that the charge had been dropped. However, unbeknownst to him, the Ramsey County District Attorney in Minneapolis approved several serious charges, including interfering with police, obstruction of justice and felony rioting, and issued an arrest warrant.”

Bueckert is the son of the late Dennis Bueckert, the well-respected Canadian Press envirionmental and health policy reporter. One of the other people arrested at that protest is Linwood Kaine, the 24-year-old son of Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the November 2016 presidential election.

In late-May, the Washington Examiner explained, “Kaine and five others were originally arrested March 4 on suspicion of second-degree riot following a ‘March 4 Trump’ rally at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. At the time, the group was believed to have chanted and whistled during the pro-Trump event, setting off air horns and even a smoke bomb at one point. …Prosecutors now say Kaine was among 75 to 125 anti-Trump protesters who crashed the 400-person pro-Trump rally by running into the Capitol rotunda. Ten of those protesters launched smoke bombs, unleashed mace in people’s faces and set off fireworks in the vicinity.”

CJFE notes, “Multiple demonstrators are facing similar charges, matching a concerning pattern observed at the presidential inauguration protests of applying blanket felony charges to a group. Bueckert sees the charges as a ‘trumped-up’ effort by the prosecutor to force a plea deal. In a press conference where felony charges were announced, the District Attorney admits public pressure was applied to ‘make this into some form of a partisan issue’.”

The Washington Post has reported, “While most of the protesters [at Trump’s inauguration in January] were initially charged with one count of felony rioting, a grand jury [in late-May] returned a superseding indictment that added new charges: inciting or urging to riot, conspiracy to riot and counts of destruction of property. …The first of the trials for alleged rioters won’t be until March 2018.” Defense attorney Jason Flores-Williams has stated, “The superseding indictment is sheer government abuse of power. They are prosecuting people not based on evidence, but for who they know and who they associate with. It’s unconstitutional and repressive.”

CJFE also notes, “At no point in his three-week detention [has Bueckert] been advised to access consular services or of how to exercise his legal rights as a foreign national in the United States.”

The Council of Canadians joins with Canadian Journalists for Free Expression to say that the Trudeau government should provide immediate consular support to Bueckert, that it should investigate allegations of inhumane conditions experienced by Bueckert during his transportation from the border crossing to Alabama [where he is awaiting extradition to Minnesota] and ensure that the charges against him are not politically motivated.

The full CJFE article is here.