Three men convicted last week of encouraging property damage at protests against the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto were defiant as a judge sent them to jail at a raucous sentencing hearing Monday.
Supporters of Peter Hopperton, 25, Adam Lewis, 23 and Eric Lankin, 24, packed the Finch Avenue West courtroom to capacity and burst into cheers and applause when each man made a political address to Justice Lloyd Budzinski.
While the jail time was agreed to beforehand by Crown attorneys and defence lawyers, each side presented a radically different view of the men's activities.
"This case was not about the right to free speech or the right to freedom of association. Counselling to commit mischief is not a right protected by the Charter," said prosecutor Jason Miller, adding that the G20 riot ultimately overshadowed the protesters' message.
Mr. Hopperton, who was convicted for drafting a call-out exhorting G20 demonstrators to take part in a "militant, confrontational march" at the summit, linked the protests to others over the past year, including the rallies in Cairo's Tahrir Square that ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and the Occupy movement across North America.
Mr. Lewis, who admitted encouraging people to break shop windows, said his punishment was politically motivated "The truth is that my guilty friends and I, as well as my former co-accused are not purveyors of 'chaos and mayhem' as we have been made out to be by the Crown and the media," he said. "The fiction [is]that somehow property is more valuable than the health, well-being and physical security of human bodies."
Mr. Lankin, for his part, turned to the gallery and told supporters he loved them, then blew kisses.
Justice Budzinski, however, admonished the trio, saying that encouraging mayhem at the protests trampled on the rights of other demonstrators who were using legal tactics to voice their opposition to the G20.
All three men, court heard, are activists involved in a variety of causes. Mr. Lewis, a native of Newmarket, Ont. is a graduate student at Queens University; Mr. Hopperton, of Hamilton, is a writer for a community newspaper.
While the maximum sentence for the men's crime is five years, the court took into account that all three had spent time in pre-trial custody and lived for a year and a half with restrictive bail conditions. Mr. Hopperton will serve five and a half months; Mr. Lewis, three-and-a-half and Mr. Lankin three. The sentences are to be served entirely in prison.
As court officers handcuffed the trio, Mr. Lewis and Mr. Lankin kissed their girlfriends, while supporters jumped to their feet and shouted cries of support for them.
Three others who pleaded guilty as a result of last week's deal will be sentenced later: Leah Henderson on Dec. 20; Amanda Hiscocks and Alex Hundert in January.
Eleven other people had all their charges withdrawn.