18 plead guilty in protest atop Centre BlockCanada
The Ottawa Citizen
Eighteen Greenpeace member’s who made national and international news last December when they scaled the Parliament Buildings, pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of mischief.
They will each serve 12-months probation, must keep away from Parliament Hill for a year and are not to communicate or associate with one another to plan or take part in similar demonstrations.
The 18, from all parts of Canada, are: Paul Baker, Sarah Bernier, Vanessa Butterworth, Seychelle Cloutier-Collard, Cyndie Dubois, David Fujii, Denis Hebert, Olivier Huard, Michael Hudema, June Kendall, Naila Lalji, Michele Lavoie, Glenn MacIntosh, David Major, Jesse Richman, Jessica Schwarz, Yannick St-Jacques and Eryn Wheatley.
The sentences, a plea bargain between defense and Crown prosecutors, also required the protesters to pay a total $20,000 in costs to the City of Ottawa.
Charges against one protester were dropped and another - currently out of Canada - will appear next month to receive a similar sentence.
During their protest, the activists wore coveralls, climbing harnesses and hardhats and made it to the roofs of the West Block and Centre Block, apparently using scaffolding.
The aim of the demonstration was to grab attention on the opening day of the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen.
The Greenpeace group - most in their early-to-mid 20s - emerged from the courtroom after sentencing to hug and high-five each other.
"We accept the court's decision," said spokesman Michael Hudema, "but we don't accept the government's inaction on climate change which is killing and displacing people. We want to see some action on climate change."
The oldest person on the roof was 63-year-old June Kendall from Hudson, Que.
None of the protesters has a criminal record and Wednesday's sentence is not a criminal conviction.
In a Greenpeace video shot from the Centre Block roof, and streamed live on its website, two RCMP officers appeared to stroll by the building without noticing anything amiss as the demonstrators prepared for their early morning publicity stunt.
The first arrests came at about 8:20 a.m. after a banner was displayed on Centre Block that read, in French, "Stop the tar sands."
Hudema and five other protesters who rappelled down the building's face unfurled banners that read: "Harper/Ignatieff: Climate inaction costs lives."
Within minutes, firefighters used a bucket truck to remove the banners and then picked up the six activists.
Liberal Senator Colin Kenny said shortly after the demonstration that it was a good thing the protesters were armed with climbing ropes and not rifles.
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