We're reporting from the Lethbridge Courthouse this week, covering the trial of a peaceful Coutts blockade supporter. After seemingly attempting to leave the demonstration area, this supporter was charged with assault with a weapon and dangerous driving. He was also unduly smeared by the state broadcaster, who connected him to racial supremacy.
James Sowery was charged in connection with Coutts blockade demonstrations that took place early last year.
If you're unaware of that event, well, we can tell you from firsthand experience, it was an 18 day demonstration at the Canada-U.S. border, coinciding with the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa that made international headlines, and, quite literally, changed the political landscape of the world as we see it today.
These protests were against vaccination mandates and COVID restrictions, and here in Alberta the sentiment was so strong that mandates were lifted during demonstrations. Months later, the resignation of former premier Jason Kenney became unavoidable.
Kenney lied about there being violence at the blockade, alleging the protesters even assaulted RCMP officers. This turned out to be untrue, and even though the blockade demonstrations lasted 18 days, the former premier never showed his face to talk with the people — people who simply wanted to be heard by him and to have a dialog with their elected representatives — about the issues that were destroying their lives, and the lives of everyday Canadians.
Now, Sowery was near another part of the demonstration at Milk River, another small town near Coutts, when RCMP allege he randomly drove at officers who were situated at a police check stop.
The officers claim they had to run to “avoid getting hit.” Sowery allegedly swerved away and hit some traffic cones at the last minute, was then arrested, and soon charged with dangerous driving and assault with a weapon.
This took place on February 14, 2022, the same day RCMP executed warrants in Coutts on participants, reportedly seizing weapons and body armour. In response, many started to leave the protest area to show that their movement was a peaceful movement and denounced violence.
Later that same day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would invoke the Emergencies Act due to his own failure in managing the peaceful demonstrations taking place across the nation.
But Sowery's suffering wasn't only through the arrest and charges that day.
He then had to face a CBC article alleging he had “ties” to a white supremacist group. The state broadcaster's allegations were made on the basis that two out of the thousands of alleged demonstrators may have had vague ties to an unnamed group that CBC claims holds white supremist beliefs.
If possible, we’ll try to see what Sowery has to say in response to the CBC’s framing of their story.
For now, The Democracy Fund, a Canadian charity focused on constitutional rights, has announced that it will fund the defence of James Sowery, and has hired Olivia Manzer of Trach Law to defend him.
TDF aims to ensure a fair trial and hopes set the record straight for their client about these alleged acts of violence in Coutts and Milk River.
March 20, 2023 marks the first day of Sowery's, five-day jury trial here in Lethbridge. The focus day one's proceedings are on jury selection, a critical process in which potential jurors are questioned by attorneys and the judge to ensure a fair and impartial jury is selected to hear the case.
We hope to speak with James Sowery and his lawyer to get their perspectives on the case and ongoing trial; however after James was arrested, he was released with conditions that may prevent him from speaking about this issue publicly.
And as mentioned by The Democracy Fund, an impartial jury is key for Sowery's defence, potentially making any interviews his lawyer difficult at this time.
This is exactly why we're here at the Lethbridge Courthouse, so that over the coming days we can give you the details on this story. We know what the RCMP and the CBC had to say about all this. Now, we'd like to find out what they didn't say — and even more, we'd like to find out the other side of the story from Sowery and his legal counsel.
As the trial of James Sowery continues, we will bring you updates and a more in-depth analysis of this ongoing Coutts blockade court case. Follow our coverage and support his legal fight at TruckerLawyer.ca.