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Canadian woman arrested after Instagram post critical of police

Canadian woman arrested after Instagram post critical of police
A 20-year-old Montreal woman is in trouble with the police over an Instagram post. Jennifer Pawluck took a snapshot of graffiti depicting a local top police officer with a bullet in his forehead. She believes she's done nothing wrong.

The picture has gone viral since Pawluck posted it, while the original graffiti has since been removed.

She is now facing a court hearing for her post, accused of criminal harassment and intimidation against high-ranking police officer, Ian Lafrenière.

Lafrenière, who is head of the police communications division, was frequently seen in the media during last year's student protests in Quebec. Thousands took to the streets at the time, protesting tuition fee hikes, dozens were arrested. Pawluck was herself arrested three times during mass roundups, but never under a Criminal Code.

Pawluck was summoned by police and questioned for several hours after she posted the graffiti image online. Police maintain she acted with intent to harass Lafreniere and gave him cause to fear for his safety.

Jennifer Pawluck

The accused insists she’s done nothing wrong and the actions of the Montreal police are tantamount to harassment.

"I am someone who is very artistic. I know that the photo is violent, but all the same I thought it was well done. My aim was not to be threatening,” she told CBC News.

"I think the person who created the graffiti should be in my place … all I did was take a photo," she said.

Upon being released from custody, Pawluck was prohibited from any communication with Lafrenière, not that she had any. Furthermore, she can't come within one kilometer of a Montreal police station.

Criminal defense attorney Eric Sutton thinks the arrest is politically motivated.

"I think this may be somewhat of a political statement by the police that they have zero tolerance for anything that's seen as threatening to their image," he told CMC News.

It is not clear whether the police will pursue everyone who re-posted the image since the first post. 

Pawluck has not been formally charged, but is scheduled to appear in court on April 17.