B.C. woman who praised Hamas ordered not to protest: group

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A pro-Palestinian activist group says its international co-ordinator, who was arrested in a Vancouver hate-crime investigation, was released with an order not to attend any protests for the next five months.


The Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network says Charlotte Kates was arrested by Vancouver police after she gave a speech last week praising the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas as “heroic and brave.”


Samidoun, an international activist group based in Vancouver that has organized protests about the Israel-Hamas war, says in a statement that Kates was briefly detained by police before being released on condition she not attend any “protests, rallies or assemblies,” until a court date on Oct. 8.


It says she has been charged, but a spokeswoman for the B.C. Prosecution Service says it does not have a file on Kates and it’s waiting for a report from police to the Crown.


The Samidoun statement calls the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas “a legitimate military operation,” but Hamas is designated as a terrorist entity in Canada.


The attack killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, setting off Israel’s offensive in Gaza that the Health Ministry there says has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians.


A subsequent email from Samidoun says Kates did not write their original statement, which is attributed to the Canada Palestine Association. The group did not say who specifically wrote it.


During question period at the B.C. legislature on Thursday, Michael Lee, the BC United member for Vancouver-Langara, said there is a disturbing pattern of hate against Jewish students at universities in the province.


“Antisemitic encampments have spread from (the University of British Columbia) to the University of Victoria to Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo.”


Lee said Kates is supporting the encampments on behalf of the group Samidoun.


“Samidoun has received government funding, but has strong connections to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the PFLP, a listed terrorist entity in Canada.”


While McGill University has asked police help to protect student safety at a pro-Palestinian encampment there, B.C. has done nothing, Lee said, asking why the government hasn’t acted.


Lisa Beare, the post-secondary education minister, replied that celebrating murder is completely unacceptable and it is disappointing to see people use such tragedies to promote hate.


“Universities, colleges and institutes across the province do have the policies in place to allow for a peaceful protest, while also ensuring everyone on campus is safe and I expect all the institutes to find that balance,” Beare said.


A representative at the University of B.C. encampment said she didn’t know the details of Kates’s case and declined to comment on the allegations on Thursday.


“What did transpire a few days ago was certainly unfortunate,” said the spokeswoman, identifying herself only by a first name, Sam.


“We’re a decentralized encampment with no affiliation with any groups or specific people or organizations, off-campus and within campus,” Sam said.


“The folks here are here on autonomous free will.”


Vancouver police did not respond to a request for confirmation of any conditions that Kates may have been released under. They previously said a 44-year-old woman had been arrested over a speech last Friday in which she “referred to a number of terrorist organizations as heroes.”


Samidoun is a federally registered non-profit that is based in an East Vancouver home that is also registered as Kates’s address. It has been involved in promoting or organizing numerous pro-Palestinian protests since last Oct. 7.


Video of Friday’s rally shows a woman leading the crowd outside the Vancouver Art Gallery in a chant of “long live Oct. 7” and calling the attackers “heroic and brave.”


B.C. Premier David Eby has said the speech was “the most hateful” he could imagine.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 2, 2024.

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