Anti-Olympic protester cops plea bargain

More than 200 people splashed paint, hurled newspaper boxes

A local woman charged with assaulting a police officer at a Feb. 13, 2010 anti-Olympics protest will have no criminal record if she follows a judge's orders.

Willow Violet Louise Riley avoided a Provincial Court trial Nov. 24 when she pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of resisting or obstructing a police officer. Judge Harbans Dhillon gave Riley a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered her to do 60 hours of community service work within the next 10 months, pay a $50 victim surcharge and write an apology to a Vancouver police officer.

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Crown counsel Daniel Porte described Riley as a "bright, articulate woman who has much to offer society," despite her participation in a violent protest on the second day of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Riley pulled a person who was being arrested away from a uniformed police officer and fell to the ground with the cop around Georgia and Granville.

"On the day of the offence, I made a few mistakes and I..." an emotional Riley said in court.

"I just really care about the community and people around me," Riley continued.

She said she "lost sight" of the fact that she has "to be extra responsible and careful."

More than 200 people, including several protesters dressed in black clothing with their faces covered, participated in the Heart Attack March from Thornton Park. Paint was splashed on Bay store windows and newspaper boxes hurled at the TD Bank. The RCMP riot squad was called when marchers approached the Westin Bayshore where International Olympic Committee members were staying.

Riley's lawyer Chandra Corriveau told the court "there was a lot of turmoil in the city, a dichotomy of people's views."

"Unfortunately things got out of hand for many people that day," she said.

Corriveau said Riley has not completed high school, but has worked in retail, assisted her father's painting business, posed as a model in photo shoots and volunteered at the Urban Aboriginal Kitchen Garden. Corriveau said Riley "literally had no contact with police before February 2010" and introduced several letters of support. She said Riley is seeing two counsellors and has "clearly made efforts to rehabilitate herself."

Dhillon, a former B.C. Civil Liberties Association board member, said "her social justice beliefs are very well-founded. It is laudable she has those beliefs, it is not laudable she put the safety of a police officer on duty at risk."

Outside the court, a smiling Riley gathered with family and friends but declined to comment.

The president of the Vancouver Police Union said the courts shouldn't tolerate incidents like this. "I'm pleased that there is some consequence, it certainly doesn't seem often that the consequences fit the impact of the actions of the offender at the time," Tom Stamatakis told the Courier.

Riley was the last of six people to appear over misconduct at anti-Olympics protests on the first two days of the Games. Charges against Charlotte Christine Hannah of Vancouver were dropped in favour of community service and conflict resolution training. Daniel Frederick Myers of Shoreline, Wash. who was arrested with a bike chain, pleaded guilty to possession of a restricted weapon and received a conditional discharge. Criminal Justice Branch spokesman Neil MacKenzie said charges against two men, including Guillaume Beaulieu of Quebec, were stayed for lack of evidence. Another adult male that he did not identify pleaded guilty after a spitting incident to assaulting a police officer and received a conditional discharge.

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