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Activist sues Toronto police over dropped G20 charges

G20 activist Julian Ichim holds a press conference outside police headquarters in Toronto before launching a $4 million lawsuit against Toronto Police Services Board for false imprisonment, assault and battery, misuse of public office, and other Charter breaches, on Monday June 25, 2012.

Aaron Vincent Elkaim/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A community activist who once gained notoriety for splashing chocolate milk on a prominent politician launched a lawsuit against police Monday, arguing he was targeted ahead of the G20 summit for his political views, not because he ever advocated violence.

While Julian Ichim is seeking $4-million in general and punitive damages, he said his suit was not about money but accountability.

"What I hope to do, and aim to do, with this lawsuit is first and foremost break the silence and find out what really happened," Mr. Ichim said.

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"This is the avenue open to me to hold the system accountable ... to raise the politics of criminalization of dissent."

Mr. Ichim claims he was beaten during his arrest on the weekend of the Toronto G20 summit in June 2010 — hours before vandals among the protesters went on a headline-grabbing rampage.

He was charged with conspiring to do property damage and obstruct police but the charges were dropped six months later.

The suit names Toronto and Ontario provincial police, as well as an undercover officer.

According to his unproven statement of claim, Mr. Ichim, 32, says his arrest was directly the result of information from the undercover cop, who began infiltrating various activist groups about 18 months before the summit.

"I was identified as a threat to the G20 — not because of any physical actions I have done, but rather instead for the politics that I hold, which are Marxist-Leninist politics," Mr. Ichim said before serving his suit on Toronto police.

"The reason I was arrested was because an example needed to be made."

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The suit alleges the officer urged activists to commit criminal acts, and gave false information about his activities that led directly to his arrest.

The suit also accuses the undercover officer of violating Mr. Ichim's privacy by conducting intrusive surveillance, then by making intimate details of his life available to lawyers and others.

"It's creepy you have a cop listening to you having sex with your partner," he said. "I have no idea what my favourite sexual positions have to do with national security."

Mr. Ichim also says he was forced to live under restrictive bail conditions before the Crown withdrew the charges.

None of the allegations have been proven in any court and the defendants have yet to file any statement of defence.

Mr. Ichim said he was proud of his activism in such Ontario communities as Guelph and Stratford as well as in Inuvik, N.W.T., which included anti-drug campaigns and working with at-risk youth.

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His only conviction to date was for assault — the result of splashing chocolate milk on then-Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day in 2000.

He said he was taking a stand against a system he said was trying to silence political dissent.

Mr. Ichim now faces three counts of disobeying a court order for maintaining a blog, and said he expected to be jailed in what he called a further attempt at intimidating activists.

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