Charges against four anti-Israel protesters quietly dropped by Crown

Four of a group of 11 anti-Israel protesters accused of vandalizing a Toronto Indigo bookstore last November have had their charges dropped.

Charges against four anti-Israel protesters quietly dropped by Crown
X / HonestRepCanada
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Crown prosecutors quietly dropped all charges against four of the 11 anti-Israel protesters who were suspected of desecrating a Toronto Indigo store in November.

The charges were dropped last week, with a lawyer for one of the four calling for police to drop the remaining charges against the remaining seven of the group.

“We’re also calling for people to focus their attention on the real crime, which is the ongoing genocide in Gaza,” said Michael Leitold, who is representing Sarom Rho.

“What we’re seeing is a crackdown on legitimate free speech and actions to hold our institutions and governments to account for their failure to stop the genocide and to actually facilitate it through the sale of arms and provision of resources.”

Karl Gardner, one of the other protesters who had charges dropped, called the development “bittersweet.”

“I feel angry that more and more people are facing these kinds of charges and angry that the police continue to charge activists in an attempt to silence the Palestinian solidarity movement,” Gardner said.

Gardner, a political scientist, was placed on administrative leave by the University of Toronto after charges were laid against him.

“The Crown’s decision to withdraw charges against the four individuals should not be interpreted as a reflection on the validity of the charges laid by police or the credibility of the allegations,” Toronto police spokesperson Stephanie Sayer said in a statement to the Toronto Star.

Police are accused of using unnecessary measures to arrest the accused.

“Entry plans when conducting a search warrant are based on the specific circumstances of the investigation and are carried out in accordance with the terms of the warrant,” Sayer continued.

The Crown, however, made clear that its withdrawal of charges should not be seen as a criticism of the police.

Police say that the protesters are charged with "hate-motivated crimes" though none have been charged with hate crimes.

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