On May 28, Kelly Pflug-Back will stand in front of a Toronto courtroom to be sentenced.
I first met Kelly when she was a 16 yr old traveler kid who had just arrived in Victoria. We hung out on the streets, at drop in centers, and did Food not Bombs together which developed a lasting friendship. Over the years Kelly became quite the well known community organizer and activist. So it was a surprise when her picture went out across the internet, TV news, and newspapers last year following the G20 as police released pictures of their most wanted suspects in their sweep of 1100 activists who arrested, most of which would be released with no charges.
This interview was conducted by email.
PE: You have been active in community organizing for many years preceding this arrest? Can you tell us a bit about how you became involved in the struggle and what types of organizing or activism you have done?
KELLY: I’ve always been most interested in long-term, sustained efforts to build networks of social support so that people don’t have to rely on the state. I’ve done a lot of work with Food Not Bombs in a few cities, worked with needle exchange programs and anti-stigma AIDS resource centres, and facilitated workshops for queer youth and street-involved youth on self-esteem, safer drug use and sexual health. I’ve also participated in a couple of land occupations opposing developments on Indigenous territories, and I’ve recently been doing a lot of journalism for magazines.
PE: What were the charges you are about to be sentenced for and what are they supposedly in relation to?
KELLY: I’m being convicted of six counts of mischief over $ 5000, as well as one count of being masked with the intent of committing a crime. When the G20 economic summit was held in Toronto in 2010 I participated in corporate property damage. For folks who don’t know much about the G20, it stands for “Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors.” They are essentially the leaders of the world’s most powerful national economies, and they meet in different cities periodically, spending billions of dollars on security and luxuries every time. They make decisions geared toward enhancing the economic power of elite nations while continuing to impoverish the global South. These meetings exclude anyone from the exploited nations which the G20 derive much of their wealth and resources from. They also exclude any input from Indigenous groups that many G20 countries, like Canada, have robbed of their traditional lands in order to establish their nationhood.
PE: You were also charged initially with a few other charges; can you speak about those and how/why they were dropped?
KELLY: I initially had charges of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, as well as assaulting a police officer with a weapon, obstructing justice and intimidation of a justice system participant. I never assaulted a police officer, and there was no evidence to suggest I did. The guy who they were saying I assaulted testified in court that he had never seen me before, a year after the charges were laid. The conspiracy charge didn’t stick because they were unable to associate me with any co-conspirators…they were trying to frame it as though I was a conspiracy of one person. This is a good example of what people mean when they say “trumped up charges.” A person can be slapped with serious or violent charges as a way of intimidating them, strong-arming them into a plea agreement or justifying harsh punitive measures such as restrictive bail conditions. The assault charge was a convenient excuse for them to keep me on house arrest for a year.
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