More arrests over Queen's Park anti-poverty riot

A leading anti-poverty crusader has been charged with encouraging protesters to take part in a violent clash with police at the Ontario legislature last month.

John Clarke, head of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, was arrested Friday.

He and three other people are scheduled to appear in court Saturday for a bail hearing.

Clarke is charged with taking part in a riot, and encouraging others to commit an indictable offence.

"The fact that you're actually doing this counselling is in itself a criminal offence," said Sgt. Jim Muscat of the Toronto police force, when asked to explain the allegation that Clarke egged on rioters.

Some members of Clarke's coalition said the authorities are prosecuting to try to force the group to disband. But they vowed to keep demonstrating against the provincial Conservative government, which they blame for increased poverty in Ontario.

Investigators have now charged 32 people with various crimes connected to a bloody demonstration against homelessness June 15 that left dozens of protesters and police officers injured.

Some people at the rally blamed police for over-reacting. But others accused a small number of trouble-makers of intentionally starting a riot showing up with gas masks and helmets, pushing their way past a barricade, and then attacking Queen's Park security.

After being told they couldn't enter the legislature to address politicians, some protesters went berserk, according to investigators.

A group of demonstrators threw bricks, Molotov cocktails, and paint bombs at police, who struck back with batons and pepper spray. The clash ended after about an hour.

Police obtained search warrants and then seized television videotape and newspaper photographs of the riot to gather evidence against suspects. On Friday they said that more arrests may be made down the road.