A Clarification from the Movement Defence Committee Respecting Claims in the Article “G20 Conspiracy Case: The Inside Story”

An article entitled “G20 Conspiracy Case: The Inside Story,” published on CrimethInc.com at http://www.crimethinc.com/blog/2011/11/24/g20-conspiracy-case-the-inside..., and also published on infoshop.org at http://infoshop.org/page/toronto-g20-conspiracy, has claimed that "cops in the MDC us(ed) information meant to help protestors with their legal defense against them." The article also states that information from the Movement Defence Committee (MDC), a working group of the Law Union of Ontario, was used against a specific G20 defendant.

These claims appear to be based on a misunderstanding of events and the MDC’s organizational structure. We would like to take this opportunity to clarify the distinction between the MDC itself, which has a closed membership, and the Legal Observer programs we run, which are open to the public.

By way of background, the MDC set up the Summit Legal Support Project to provide legal support for protestors against the G8-G20 Summit meetings in Toronto. The Project ran from May to July, 2010. As part of the Project, we welcomed members of the public to attend our trainings and act as Legal Observers (LOs) during demonstrations. These LOs were trained to monitor and take notes of police misconduct, and were asked to report any arrests to the MDC legal office by phone. Close to one hundred people attended trainings and volunteered to act as LOs during the G20 demonstrations.

The legal office itself, however, was staffed by members of the MDC, a secure committee with a vetted membership of trusted activists, legal workers, law students and lawyers. Because the LO program was open to the public and anticipated to be vulnerable to infiltration, no LOs were given access to any confidential, sensitive, or non-public information gathered as part of our work. It was not possible, given our group’s resources and ability, to ensure every potential LO was not an undercover police officer. The division between the LO program and the MDC itself was made to guard against infiltration of the MDC. It is also a means of balancing our desire to engage the broader community in our work, while still closely guarding our integrity as a group.

We have reason to believe that, unfortunately, at least two undercover police officers posed as Legal Observers during the G20 demonstrations. However, the MDC itself was not infiltrated by police during the Summit Legal Support Project (SLSP), or at any other time.

We hope that this clarification serves to address concerns about the integrity of the MDC arising from the article. We see the article as generally being a positive contribution to discussions about the need for a culture of security in our movements. However, we suggest that where space for misunderstanding exists, it is very important to check facts and confirm details prior to airing serious allegations.

The MDC continues to function as a closed, secure committee, as we routinely handle personal, private and confidential information in an effort to facilitate the legal defence of activists. We continue to work closely with community organizations like the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, No One is Illegal, and many other local grassroots groups fighting against injustice and oppression. We recently completed providing 40 days of legal support for the Occupy Toronto movement. We have no reason to believe that our committee, or any confidential information provided to us, was ever compromised. If anyone has any information to the contrary, please let us know as soon as possible.

In solidarity,

The Movement Defence Committee