The Toronto hairstylist, Jordan Hunt, who was filmed roundhouse kicking a pro-life protester in what became a viral video in October of last year, was given a conditional discharge and eight months probation on June 13.
The video that went viral of Hunt assaulting Campaign Life Coalition Youth coordinator Marie-Claire Bissonnette and destroying the property of several other demonstrators during a LifeChain in Toronto, was, in fact, the second time such an incident between Hunt and a pro-life individual had occurred.
Charged with two counts of assault and one of mischief under $5,000, Hunt was offered the conditional discharge due to his youth, the fact that this was his first conviction, and his cooperative behaviour both in turning himself in on October 6, offering “an early guilty plea,” and attending counselling intended to help manage his “mental health and impulse control issues.” Furthermore, having lost his job and having his information released on the internet to international attention, Hunt was said to understand “just how serious the line he crossed was.”
The conditions of his release entail that Hunt refrain from contacting the victims, remain 100 meters from any pro-life activity, offer restitution within 30 days for the property damage the victims incurred when he used permanent marker to scribble on the victims’ signs and clothing, and continue to attend counselling as stipulated by his probation officer. Additionally, despite a request to the contrary by his lawyer, Hunt will be obliged to submit a DNA sample as the incident was not isolated and he fled the scene on both occasions.
The case was acknowledged to be a difficult one in balancing proportionality and the severity of what occurred. Ontario Court of Justice Judge Michael Block commented that he was very “impressed” by the victim statements which were “not animated by a spirit of vengeance,” but rather a desire to feel safe in their right to proffer their views. Block called this right “sacred,” and admonished “You may not interfere with that.”
The peaceful nature of the protests was emphasized once again when Block commented sternly, “This is not Charlottesville,” in reference to a violent protest in the U.S. Hunt has offered a formal apology stating he is “truly remorseful for his actions,” and “Everyone should have the right to be without fear when they act on their beliefs.” Hunt insists this “behaviour will not be repeated.”