Anti-Olympic protester cops plea bargain in Vancouver court

A local woman charged with assaulting a police officer during a Feb. 13, 2010 anti-Olympics protest in downtown Vancouver received a 12-month conditional discharge Thursday.

Willow Violet Louise Riley avoided a Provincial Court trial when she pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of resisting arrest. Judge Harbans Dhillon ordered Riley to perform 60 hours of community service work within the next 10 months, pay a $50 victim surcharge and write an apology to Vancouver Police Const. McDougall.

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Crown counsel Daniel Porte described Riley as a "bright, articulate woman who has much to offer society, despite the incident during the Heart Attack March on the second day of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Riley pulled a person who was being arrested away from a police officer and fell to the ground with the cop. The other person got away.

Before she was sentenced, an emotional Riley rose to address the court.

On the day of the offence, I made a few mistakes and I... she said, pausing to collect herself.

Said Dhillon: Its nerve-wracking for anybody 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."

The anti-Olympic Heart Attack march by 250 people began at Thornton Park and included several so-called Black Bloc protesters dressed in black clothing with their faces covered. At Georgia and Granville streets, protesters splashed red paint on store windows at the Bay and hurled newspaper boxes at the TD Bank. Marchers approached the Westin Bayshore, where International Olympic Committee members were staying behind heavy security, but the RCMP riot squad dispersed the crowd on Robson Street.

Rileys lawyer Chandra Corriveau told the court "there was a lot of turmoil in the city, a dichotomy of peoples views about the Olympics and "unfortunately things got out of hand for many people that day."

"It was a panicked moment, she is taking responsibility for that conduct, Corriveau said.

Dhillon said Riley acted out of good intentions and good motivation, but she acted contrary to the law."

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

Corriveau said Riley has not completed high school, but has worked in retail, assisted her fathers painting business and has posed as a model in photo shoots. Several of her friends and relatives were in the courtroom, while others waited outside.

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.

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

Two others charged with Riley were processed last year. Charges of assaulting a police officer were dropped against Charlotte Christine Hannah of Vancouver after community service and conflict resolution training. Daniel Frederick Myers of Shoreline, Wash. was arrested with a bike chain around his hand at the protest and put on probation for six months.

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