A woman who circulated photographs of violent anti-police graffiti online is being accused of harassing one of Montreal’s most prominent cops.
Jennifer Pawluck, 20, is expected in court later this month to face a charge of harassment against police Commander Ian Lafrenière after she posted a series of anti-police images, including a photograph of graffiti that depicted the senior officer with a bullet hole in his head.
While the picture of the graffiti portraying Cdr. Lafrenière received most of the attention Thursday, Ms. Pawluck, an activist who was involved in many of Quebec’s protests over the past year, also posted photos of other messages. She distributed a photo of a bullet several weeks ago with the caption “we’re going to kill,” along with a photo of another piece of graffiti that said “one cop, one bullet.”
A photo posted on the eve of her arrest showed graffiti with the message “Death to cops.” Ms. Pawluck posted the photos on Instagram under her handle, anarcommie.
Ms. Pawluck, who announced her arrest on Facebook, explained she didn’t mean to pose any threat when she reproduced the graffiti. She explained that she just found the graffiti was “well done.”
She also expressed her shock when an officer knocked on her door in the early morning hours Wednesday. “I really didn’t understand what was going on,” Ms. Pawluck said. “How nice, ending up with a criminal charge for taking a photo.”
Ms. Pawluck did not respond later Thursday to questions about the other Instagram postings, saying she was no longer going to talk about her case. “Everything can be held against me, so I’m going to abstain from commenting,” she said.
Police spokeswoman Constable Anie Lemieux said the arrest was approved by Crown prosecutors and a judge, who issued the warrant. She also confirmed more than one photo of graffiti led to the arrest.
“It’s not just one photo, it’s the gathering of many elements posted by her … that brought investigators to this point,” Constable Lemieux said, adding she was unable to provide more details. “It’s not just because of the fact she posted one photo that she’s being charged.”
There was no word on whether the artist could be located and charged, although the police force was not ruling out more charges.
Ms. Pawluck was released on conditions, including that she stay away from Cdr. Lafrenière. She says she didn’t even know who Cdr. Lafrenière was before she was arrested and held for questioning over several hours. She said she was simply photographing and sharing interesting art. Ms. Pawluck was arrested several times during the protests that have paralyzed parts of downtown Montreal dozens of times over the past year, including twice in March when she was given tickets for illegal protest.
The harassment charge sworn against Ms. Pawluck is a summary offence, so the maximum penalty is six months in jail. Ms. Pawluck has no prior criminal record.