Reporter warned not to take photographs

TORONTO (Feb. 13, – Veteran pro-life demonstrator Linda Gibbons was arrested outside the Scott Clinic abortuary in downtown Toronto this morning, in her latest challenge of an Ontario “bubble zone” injunction. On previous occasions, Gibbons has always been read the lengthy injunction and then arrested after refusing to obey a request to leave. As a result of her arrest last October she was sentenced to a probation term, as well as one day in jail in addition to time served in custody. Today, the terms of the injunction were not read to her before handcuffs were quickly applied. This was apparently because Gibbons was still covered under probation terms that forbade her from coming within certain distances of three Toronto abortuaries, including the Scott Clinic. There was no immediate word as to charges.

In the latest episode of Toronto police intimidation of media covering abortion-related incidents, a lone freelance reporter and photographer on the scene was warned by the first police officer to arrive, a Sergeant Moyer, not to take any photographs of him “under any circumstances.” The reporter, fearing arrest, decided to comply, and ceased taking pictures. However, subsequent inquiries of the Toronto Police Service’s corporate communications branch and a staff sergeant at 51 division revealed that the officer had no right to give such an order. A complaint is being pursued.

Three journalists had previously been arrested and charged with obstructing police while covering a demonstration by Gibbons outside the Scott Clinic in October 1999. After months of remands and thousands of dollars in legal fees, those charges were dropped. And last October, at a similar demonstration by Gibbons, a sheriff exceeded his authority by ordering a reporter to leave the area after Gibbons was arrested. Toronto police officials and the provincial Attorney General have so far not appeared to be willing to take any actions to curb the on-going harassment of reporters by 51 Division officers.


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