In Brief

Woman Found Guilty of Criminal Harassment for Instagramming Street Art

Jennifer Pawluck (photo provided by Pawluck to Hyperallergic), and the street art photo that landed Jennifer Pawluck in hot water with Montreal police.
Jennifer Pawluck (photo provided by Pawluck to Hyperallergic), and the street art photo that landed Jennifer Pawluck in hot water with Montreal police

Jennifer Pawluck, the Montrealer who was arrested in 2013 for posting a photo of a piece of street art on Instagram, has been convicted of criminal harassment and, on Thursday, was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and 18 months probation. Her community service must be completed within a year.

The 22-year-old college student has also been forbidden from posting any public messages on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and must restrict her use of the social media platforms to private communications for the next year, according to the Montreal Gazette. She had faced maximum penalties of up to six months in jail and a fine of $5,000.

Reached via Facebook, Pawluck told Hyperallergic: “I am unfortunately not responding to any media questions … following my sentencing I’d prefer to keep a very low profile.”

In late April Pawluck was found guilty for having posted a photo on Instagram of a piece of street art showing Ian Lafrenière, the lead officer for communications and media relations for the Montreal police, with a bullet wound in his forehead. Pawluck did not create the artwork, but merely saw it and posted a photo of it online. The image was accompanied by text that read “Ian Lafrenière” and “ACAB,” an acronym for “All Cops Are Bastards.” Pawluck had seen the piece of street art in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighborhood where she lives and posted it online accompanied by hashtags including “#ianlafreniere” and “#acab,” later claiming that she didn’t know who Lafrenière was. At the time, Pawluck had 81 followers.

“On the photo there were links, or hashtags, with Ian Lafrenière’s name written in different ways and allusions like (‘All cops are bastards’) and (‘One cop, one bullet’) to the point where, given the context, there was criminal harassment,” Josie Laplante, lawyer for the prosecution, told the National Post in April following Pawluck’s conviction. “I think we all have to pay attention to what we post because (some people) don’t consider the impact it can have on other individuals.”

Pawluck was a participant in the 2012 student protests in Montreal, during which Lafrenière was a very visible spokesperson for the city’s police force. He said in his testimony that he and his children had found the image disturbing, and that his wife had been forced to take a leave of absence from her job because of it.

“There is a limit that must not be crossed,” said judge Marie-Josée Di Lallo when delivering her verdict on April 23. “She (Pawluck) felt anger toward the police.”

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