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Man charged in cricket caper

Andrew Raven
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 01/05) - A Yellowknife man known for eccentric protests faces criminal charges in connection with two bizarre incidents earlier this spring.

Police have charged Mark Bogan with two counts of mischief after dozens of crickets were released in the Yellowknife Courthouse and the constituency office of Western Arctic MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew.

Bogan pleaded not guilty to both charges Tuesday afternoon. After the hearing, he spoke openly about the stunts, calling them a form of "civil disobedience."

"I compare it to the protests of the 1960s and '70s where feminists burned their bras advocating for change," Bogan said.

The stunts - one of which temporarily suspended business at the courthouse - were done to highlight the plight of the thousands of men who have been denied custody of their children, Bogan said.

Bogan belongs to Fathers Canada for Justice, a national organization whose members released nearly 7,000 crickets in various courthouses and MPs' offices during May.

A father of two, Bogan said he has not seen his oldest son in nearly a decade.

He frequently protests outside of public buildings wearing placards and calling himself Plywood Man.

Bizarre appearance

While Bogan was relatively subdued during his plea hearing Tuesday, he became animated during a bizarre court appearance the following afternoon.

He became upset after judge Bernadette Schmaltz denied several unusual requests including, a $5,000 advance payment for legal fees and that he be called Plywood Man in all court proceedings.

Bogan interrupted at Schmaltz when she scheduled his September trial for half a day, yelling: "Is that all?"

Schmaltz warned Bogan against highlighting his "personal agenda" during the mischief trial. "A criminal courtroom is a serious and solemn place," she said. "No one should make it into a soapbox."

Bogan paused when asked outside the courtroom why he turned from peaceful protests to actions that could leave him with a criminal record.

"I have attempted every conceivable (court application) for the last 14 years in order to see my children," he said. "There is nothing left to try."