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Conditional discharge for dancer in video supporting shooting of police officers

A 47-year-old man was given a conditional discharge after he admitted dancing in a music video that advocated the shooting of police and others.

Raymond Swan told the Supreme Court that while he agreed to appear in the music video, he did not say anything in the recording and he did not support violence.

“I was just dancing,” he said. “I didn’t say nothing. I don’t want to hurt anybody.”

The court heard that at about 6.20pm on July 18, 2019, an officer was outside the Hamilton Police Station when he saw two men dancing near by with a third person recording them on a tablet.

He said the men were wearing masks and, when he approached them, they ran into a nearby car and drove away.

The officer noted the licence plate of the vehicle, which was owned by Swan.

The following day, officers were sent a music video that had been shared across social media.

The video featured two men in masks outside the Hamilton Police Station and Fort Hamilton – one dancing and a second singing – along with footage of a man being arrested by police.

The lyrics of the song referenced shooting police officers, prosecutors and judges.

Swan and a second man, Ezra Ararat, were both charged with the creation and publication of a music video that called for “the shooting of police, prosecutors and judges” for their work in law enforcement between June 17 and June 19, 2019.

While the matter appeared in Magistrates’ Court in July 2019 and could have remained in that court, Mr Ararat elected for the matter to be heard by the Supreme Court.

During a mention in the Supreme Court yesterday, Swan pleaded guilty to the offence.

Cindy Clarke, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said that given his limited role in the video, the time that had passed since the video was published and the fact that the matter was only before the Supreme Court because of his co-defendant, it would be reasonable to give Swan a conditional discharge.

“This is not the sort of matter where we would believe a conviction is required,” she said.

Charles Richardson, counsel for Swan, said that while his client agreed to dance in the video, he did not condone the message “in any way, shape or form”.

He added that Swan had no similar previous convictions and no convictions at all in the past 22 years.

“I don’t think you will see him in any other music videos at any time,” Mr Richardson said.

Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams noted that while the offence can carry a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison if heard in the Supreme Court, Swan should be treated as if he had appeared in the lower courts.

She also highlighted the time that had passed since the offence and Swan’s lack of recent convictions before ordering a three-year conditional discharge.

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