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article imageToronto's G20 'Officer Bubbles' suing YouTube for defamation

By Stephanie Dearing     Oct 17, 2010 in Internet
Toronto - Constable Adam Josephs unwittingly achieved more than his allotted 15 minutes of fame after a video of him threatening to arrest a female protester for blowing bubbles during a Toronto G20 protest this summer was posted on YouTube.
Officer Bubbles became the widely-used nickname for Constable Josephs after earlier this year after he threatened to arrest a Toronto G20 protester if one of her soap bubbles touched any officer. The Real News, the media organization that originally posted the footage of the incident, said the bubble blower, Courtney Winkels would have been arrested in any event, because she fit the profile circulated by police: she wore a bandanna, carried a backpack, and had the name and phone number of a lawyer written on her arm.
The video footage was posted on You Tube, where it went viral. The encounter quickly became a touchstone event that highlighted what many protesters had alleged leading up to the June G20 meeting in Toronto - that security was overdone and heavy-handed. During the bubble exchange, Josephs said “If a bubble touches me, you’re going to be arrested for assault. Do you understand?” Winkels responded, “Bubbles?” Josephs reiterated by saying, “Yes, that’s right, it’s a deliberate act on your behalf. I’m going to arrest you. Do you understand me? You touch me with that bubble, you’re going into custody.”
Winkels later told the National Post, “I realize now maybe the bubbles weren’t the greatest idea — but still, it’s bubbles. I was just keeping the mood light.”
The incident, which sparked a cartoon series, provoked criticism from many people who saw Josephs as being heavy handed. People freely posted their comments on YouTube, among other forums. For example, a person self-identified as BGRIGG posted this comment following the National Post's story: "Usually I'm an arch-conservative who thinks these protesters need a good spanking, but bubbles? Give me a break! Whoever this officer is, if he seriously thinks this little blonde chick was a threat with her bubbles, he needs a testosterone replacement, 'cause the balls he has are obviously defective."
Other comments, however, went further than that, with people not hesitating to call Josephs a "moron," "goon," "idiot," and "thug" among some descriptives. Josephs claims about 24 different people said far worse things about him on YouTube, which The Star said have since been removed by YouTube.
Josephs said those 24 people as well as an anonymous person who created a series of eight cartoons, which had been posted to YouTube, defamed his character, and he has launched a law suit against YouTube worth $1.2 million, reported The Globe & Mail. Josephs is not suing for the original video footage.
The Star reported YouTube had contacted those commentators to see if they were willing to reveal their identities, but all have refused. If ordered by a court, You Tube has to give up the identities.
Josephs' lawyer, James Zibarras told The Globe & Mail the law suit was needed because “This level of ridicule goes beyond what is reasonable. The reason we brought the lawsuit is that people have the right to protect themselves against this kind of harassment.” The Globe & Mail said Josephs and his family had received threats because of the cartoons. Those cartoons were removed from YouTube on Friday.
The cartoons, said the Globe, depicted a male police officer with a badge "A. Josephs" arresting different people, and in one cartoon, physically assaulting a journalist. The Globe & Mail broke the story on Friday.
More about Officer bubbles, Toronto g20, Defamation character, Constable adam josephs, Courtney winkels
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