Legitimizing the Crackdown

The City of Hamilton's campaign to 'shoot the wounded' after the Red Hill battle is characterized by disdain for the truth.

By Letter to the Editor
Published November 10, 2005

Contrary to a recent newspaper headline [John Burman, "Last tree-sitter accepts negotiated deal", The Hamilton Spectator, Oct 26, 2005, p. A3], I am not a treesitter. But perhaps it is a forgivable error since the City decided to prosecute me as if I were as well.

If you look really close, in the next day's edition, they do make a minor correction. But it did nothing to undo the damage they had done.

Not only do I not wish to take credit for the work of others, such a label lends a certain amount of legitimacy, in some people's minds, for the hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers money spent trying to prosecute seven of Hamilton' citizens.

Instead of showing a man who successfully defended his beliefs against unjust prosecution, it merely paints me as a man who fought to avoid punishment, an all-too-common occurrence in our justice system.

The article did not even manage to spell my name correctly, something they had actually accomplished in the past when I was listed as one of the "offenders" who were "charged" with civil contempt.

The article mentions that I took a deal, further muddying the waters, but it is in fact true. I took a deal because it does not ask me anything aside from staying away from construction, which I was already doing. It also has no penalty other than resurrecting a tired little charge for which neither the City Council, nor their lawyers, nor the huge law firm they hired, could successfully collect sufficient evidence.

Indeed, eight months and two court appearances after the City Council voted to pursue protestors, they had the nerve to ask me to prove my identity. It appeared that even after all this time, they had not thought actually to be certain of just who they were charging. This incident also showed me that they would never fully let facts cause them to relent.

So, after the third and weakest offer, which in no way assumes guilt, I recently signed off so this farce could finally end. There was also the concern that if the City could not make a charge stick with facts, they would find "another method" to win. Reality has never played much of a role throughout the whole Red Hill ordeal, so why should I think the City would start seeing reason now?

None of what happened, however, can compare with the greater battle that was lost: the battle to save a vital piece of Hamilton from greed and backward planning, for which generations will pay financially, morally, and environmentally.

Paul Glendenning

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