I admit it, until COMM506 I didn’t know his name. I knew a protester had been arrested but then life took over and I didn’t think about it anymore. And yet I realize that it’s something of which I should have taken notice. Living in Calgary, the protests around the G20 summit seemed very far away and not relevant to me. However, freedom and the right to a fair hearing and proper judicious procedures by the police force that is sworn to protect me are my business. I should have taken more notice. But I wonder how many Canadians, like me, flipped the channel to the next episode of CSI and never gave Byron Sonne another thought.
According to the Toront Sun, the Globe and Mail and other mainstream media, Byron Sonne is a “geeky computer freak”, who set out to prove a point about the security at the G20 summit. These are usually the descriptors that show up fairly early in the stories about his arrest and recent acquittal and perhaps it’s enough of a deterrent that people won’t read any further, thus missing the most important points of the story.
One has to read farther down to learn about the details of his arrest including the denial of a lawyer and 11 months of confinement without a reason . The fact that he was exonerated does not diminish the emotional and financial strain the system put on his family. As the details of his incarceration were discussed, I kept thinking, “but this is Canada! Nothing like this happens in Canada. That’s the other guys, the bad guys in repressive dictatorships that do stuff like this…or the US.”
The really sad point about the news coverage of Sonne is wondering how many in Canada, other than his few staunch supporters, really took notice? He sacrificed a lot to demonstrate to Canadians that there are serious problems with our government’s handling of security and its treatment of regular citizens. Yet I would bet that if, next Tuesday, I ask my colleagues over coffee at the staff room table what they know about Byron Sonne, they will say something about the computer geek who got arrested for protesting…or something like that.