Civil Libertarians are vowing to fight anti-mask laws they say are meant to target human-rights protesters, not aggracating crime circumstances.
Local Lib group has begun an e-lobbying campoaign…
Micheal Vonn, policy director at the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said the bill is unconstitutional and doesn’t represent a fair and proportionate response to the historically small groups of masked protesters who turn violent.
She was also worried that under the new law, police will be able to break up peaceful protests that often feature demonstrators in creative costumes or face paint. .
“This is not a case of saying that wearing a mask is an aggravating factor to committing a crime, this is making having a face covering a crime in and of itself,” Vonn said. “This bill says that if … the assembly that you’re in becomes unlawful, then you are committing a crime.
Vonn said that many future demonstrations in British Columbia will revolve around environmental concerns where protesters prize their anonymity in the face of increased governmental scrutiny, referencing what she said was an unprecedented amount of police surveillance of activists in the leadup to Toronto’s 2010 G20 protests.
“Those people are often very well aware that they are likely to find themselves on police or intelligence watch lists for par-taking in those demonstrations peacefully,” she said. “Some form of anonymization is a way for people to, essentially, protect themselves from being the subject of an intelligence file for the rest of their lives.”
Given the support of the majority government, it is likely to pass, but Vonn said any enforcement of the mask law will surely face a Charter challenge.
Wearing a mask or disguise while committing a crime is already an offence in Canada and several American states.