RCMP Standoff w Elders
Snuneymuxw, Snawnawas and Stz’uminus Territories (Nanaimo, BC), February 8, 2022: Lawyers representing some of the over 1,100 arrests at Fairy Creek will bring an Abuse of Process Application to the British Columbia Supreme Court in Nanaimo, February 9th to 11th. The Application argues that the RCMP’s enforcement activities in Fairy Creek constitute a widespread, systemic abuse of the injunction process, and that charges against arrestees should therefore be dropped. Crown Counsel has applied to dismiss this application.
“This is not an abuse of process that manifests in hundreds of individual breaches,” states Karen Mirsky, a lawyer for numerous arrestees. “This is an abuse by the RCMP that strikes at the heart of the Court’s own process because police are using the Injunction as a vehicle to promote their own agenda. This includes acts that are clearly illegal.”
Those arrested at Fairy Creek say police actions were intended to defeat the movement’s efforts to protect old growth forests, not simply to enforce the Injunction. They say the misconduct includes the use of “pain compliance,” pepper spray, denying the necessities of life and medical assistance, seizing personal property without just cause, targeting individuals not in breach of the injunction, and the use of light and sound to disrupt the sleep patterns of individuals engaged in civil disobedience.
“There is evidence that the RCMP operation, from the beginning, included tactical decisions that were unlawful, unauthorized by the Injunction, and contrived to avoid accountability or oversight. This left individual officers free to engage in unacceptable acts of violence, negligence and other unlawful acts that undermined fundamental democratic rights — to freedom of speech, conscience, and association, and freedom of movement,” adds Mirsky.
More than 80 affidavits have been signed into evidence and over 100 video clips submitted to demonstrate egregious acts including sexual touching.
“We have concerns that the techniques used to extract people from hardblock devices and ‘pain-compliance’ techniques used to control protesters satisfies the definition of torture under Article 1.1 of the UN Convention on Torture. If true, the implications are chilling.” opines Mirsky.
Arrested twice, Molly Murphy, a BIPOC land defender says that the violence is constant. “We risk our safety and wellbeing to protect these forests when we face the C-IRG forces,” says Murphy. The C-IRG is a specialized military style RCMP unit that was founded for the purpose of stop protests against extractive industries like oil and gas pipelines and the clearcutting of forests.
Crown Counsel has applied to dismiss this Application on the basis that any misconduct by RCMP forces should be addressed on an individual basis. Land defenders have said the complaint system is slow, bureaucratic and ineffective. They say the RCMP’s Civilian Review and Complaints Commission leaves the complaint in the hands of the very organization doing the harm.
This application doesn’t change the terms of the Injunction now in place until September 2022. However, if the Application is dismissed, Mirsky’s legal team will continue its work on a full Abuse of Process hearing that would take place later in 2022.
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Pepper spray incident: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-ny-xMZjKU and followup after RCMP statement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJ8m3PtTZfM&t=3s