Help Bring Gary Freeman Home to Canada.
Why is the Canadian Government trying to prevent Gary Freeman from
returning to his Toronto-area home?
Please take action to help reunite a Canadian family (details on what
you can do at bottom of this email)
Douglas Gary Freeman (the former Joseph Pannell), an African American,
is married to a Canadian, and they have four Canadian-born children. He
has been a well-loved and respected member of the community since his
arrival in Canada in 1974. The Canadian government is trying to prevent
Mr. Freeman, who has lived the majority of his life in Canada, from
In 2004, Mr. Freeman was sought for extradition to the US to face
decades-old charges stemming from an incident involving a white police
officer in the racially and politically charged Chicago of 1969. The
officer, interviewed in 2008 by the National Post, said, "He and I were
both very young when all this started. And they were very turbulent
times, on both sides of the coin."
They were turbulent times indeed. For many in the African-American
community, Chicago, like most U.S. cities, felt like a city under armed
occupation. That year, a committee was formed whose title painfully
illustrated the social scene at the time: The Committee to End the
Murder of Black People. The police murders of 11 young black men in
1969, so long a part of daily life that it hardly made the news, had
reached such proportions that the community had to stand up and name
this police practice for what it was: outright murder.
According to The Boston Review, "In the late 1960s, Chicago police led
the nation in the slaying of private citizens, who were euphemistically
characterized as 'fleeing felons' to mask the routine use of excessive
force by police against racial minorities. The police also exploited
seemingly benign offense categories, such as disorderly conduct,
vagrancy, and loitering to bully minority youths and adults who had the
audacity to challenge police authority."
Court documents proved that Mr. Freeman's presence and location in
Canada was known to authorities since 1974, yet U.S. authorities waited
30 years to seek his return.
A 2008 PLEA BARGAIN
After 3 years and 7 months of pre-extradition custody in Canada, Mr.
Freeman voluntarily returned to Chicago in February, 2008, where he
accepted a prosecution proffered plea bargain agreement of a guilty
plea to a single count of Aggravated Battery for a sentence of 30 days
in the Cook County Jail, 2 years of probation, and a major contribution
to a Chicago police charity. It was a plea that was satisfactory to the
officer, who told The National Post, "If he [Freeman] were to have
served 15 years in prison he'd be 75 when he got out: he wouldn't
survive that. I couldn't tolerate that. I'm not out for blood."
Mr. Freeman was released from custody in March 2008 and successfully
completed his probation without incident in February 2010.
Mr. Freeman began the process of applying to return to Canada while on
probation, during which Mr. Freeman's family was struck by the death of
his father-in-law in Montreal on October 31, 2009.
Mr. Freeman sought and received permission from U.S. authorities to
attend the funeral but the Canadian government refused him entry for
reasons of "serious criminality".
CANADA THROWS UP WALLS
Further, the Canadian government has deemed Mr. Freeman "inadmissible"
to Canada on "national security grounds" due to the false,
unsubstantiated allegation that Mr. Freeman had been a member of the
Black Panther Party (BPP), which the government of Canada alleges,
again without supporting evidence, "is an organization which has
engaged in terrorism". This allegation is based entirely on incorrect
The Black Panther Party is not listed anywhere in the world as a
terrorist entity, either by the U.S., Canada, or the United Nations,
and former high-profile members and associates of the group continue to
travel freely to Canada for speaking engagements. Former members of the
BPP are even members of the U.S. Congress and tenured university
Court documents verify Mr. Freeman's assertion that he was not a BPP
member, and former Conservative Minister of Justice Vic Toews wrote in
2006 that the US would have to prove the BPP allegation, conceding that
the government of Canada had no proof.
Before Superior Court of Ontario Justice Ian Nordheimer in 2004,
Canadian government prosecutors essentially conceded that Mr. Freeman
was NOT a threat to society.
Mr. Freeman holds a U.S. passport and has already flown twice since his
2008 release so he is definitely NOT on a no-fly list.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Download our petition (at http://www.freemandrum.org), get 25 or
more signatures, and send the petition to us at: Family & Friends of
Gary Freeman, H - 110 Frederick Street, Toronto, Ontario M5A 4A9.
2. Write to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. Please keep your letter
short, polite, and to the point. You are asking Mr. Kenney to
exercise his ministerial discretion under Section 25 of the Immigration
and Refugee Protection Act in granting a temporary resident permit on
humanitarian and compassionate grounds so that Mr. Gary Freeman (the
former Joseph Pannell) can be re-united with his family.
While the facts of this case are shocking, please do not make
additional editorial comments about either Mr. Kenney or immigration
policy in general. This is a simple plea to reunite a Canadian family.
(no stamp required--handwritten notes are best)
Jason Kenney, MP
325 East Block
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
P. 613-992-2235 613-992-2235
If you are emailing, please cc Public Safety Minister Vic Toews,
firstname.lastname@example.org, and also send a copy to email@example.com
3. Arrange a meeting with your local Member of Parliament to discuss
this issue. Get in touch with us first to find out what would be needed
to be prepared, at firstname.lastname@example.org
4. 3. Contribute to the costs of this family reunification campaign.
Write cheques to "Toronto Action for Social Change" (add "Freeman" in
memo section) and send to: TASC, PO Box 73620, 509 St Clair Ave West,
Toronto, ON M6C 1C0
5. More info: www.freemandrum.org