police brutality Fairy Creek

The National Police Federation commissioned a survey and released a statement this week about public perception of Fairy Creek protestors.

We note that the NPF survey itself shows that more than 75 percent  of respondents agreed that protest is an important part of democracy, and almost 50 percent agreed that civil disobedience is necessary to prevent old-growth logging.

The same union is still defying an order from its own management, made last October, to stop wearing the ‘thin blue line’ patches, which have been associated with racism and white supremacism.

Many of the officers deployed at Fairy Creek wear ‘thin blue line’ patches. Since the beginning of RCMP enforcement we have witnessed arrests and violence that target Indigenous and BIPOC people. Please see the videos below.

We address some other comments in the NPF media release and those made recently by Sergeant Manseau and RCMP media releases regarding Fairy Creek:

– The National Police Federation media release referred to “an incident involving force after a police officer suffered a concussion as a result of being pushed to the ground by a crowd of protestors.”

RCMP Sergeant Chris Manseau and RCMP media releases and statements have also stated that the pepper-spraying was used because the crowd pushed an officer down, who fell and suffered a concussion.

In fact, in videos it is clear that police were pushing the group from both far and near, which forced them closer to the officer. Another officer stepped back, causing him to lose his balance, and the officer tripped over a concrete block. After lying there for a moment, he got to his hands and knees, and then stood and walked away. This all occurred before the pepper spray was used.

Officer falls about 20 seconds in: https://www.instagram.com/p/CS2Cy-wFqt2/?fbclid=IwAR0soXl7eJx8S3zc5QHlapxGBFCj3Qe7ys_uJVk7SmL6OopoG7AYm0cEEpQ

Officer gets up and walks away, about 2:20: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CS2oMmEJ9FK/?utm_medium=copy_link

Woman’s genitals grabbed at 2:15, officer is down at 2:38,gets up and walks away at 3:21:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1JilOGvtyyf33N8g3pIKyT7oHq0uTRY7l/view?ts=6127f110

There was no good reason to use the pepper spray. RCMP had created an alternate road within about 10 minutes, by cutting down a stand of maple trees. The crowd was no longer blocking the road, and did not harm any officers in any way.

Yet RCMP ripped off their face masks in a time of escalating Covid, doused them heavily and sometimes at very close range with pepper spray, and violently assaulted many unresisting people. There have been cases of people dying from the use of pepper spray, particularly those with asthma or with heart problems. Pepper spray is actually banned as a weapon in war, by the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Last year, during Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, Amnesty International raised concerns that pepper spray, among other tactics, were used as “a first-resort tactic against peaceful protestors, rather than as a response to any sort of actual threat or violence.”

 – The NPF media release also states that police “have a sworn duty to uphold the law, regardless of personal opinions or preferences.”

 Yet RCMP at Fairy Creek are ignoring the law, including a recent clarification from Judge Thompson, found here: https://www.bccourts.ca/jdb-txt/sc/21/15/2021BCSC1554.htm

Judge Thompson stated: “In carrying out this work the police have a general duty at common law to preserve the peace and protect life and property” (page 20).

Forest defenders say police have broken car windows, removed personal belongings, and have taken food and other items from protestors. On Sept. 7 they crushed three vehicles, reportedly including one belonging to a journalist. The vehicles were parked on a spur road, nowhere near any cutblocks, and were not blocking anything.

When police conduct raids on camps, they routinely deny people time to pack up their tents and belongings, then trash everything with an excavator, and proclaim to media that the protestors left hundreds of pounds of garbage. Rainforest Flying Squad members are bringing a contempt of court action against the RCMP, which will be heard after next week, when Teal Jones will be requesting an extension of the injunction soon set to expire.

Judge Thompson also noted the RCMP have a duty to make safe arrests. (page 25).  Yet forest defenders describe police depriving them of sleep, water, food, blankets and medication, throwing rocks on them, pushing them causing them to sustain injuries requiring medical attention, sitting on them causing pain, and smashing the devices into which the defenders lock themselves causing acute pain. Defenders also describe the common use of backhoes, jackhammers and bulldozers to extract land defenders in dangerous proximity to blockaders and in breach of Worksafe BC regulations for the protection of workers and those on worksites.

Judge Thompson wrote that police must use the minimal degree of intervention possible to clear the road even if it is less convenient or expedient.

https://www.capitaldaily.ca/news/bc-judge-media-access-fairy-creek-blockades

 Despite the Judge’s clarification that media access to arrests is an important democratic right, another journalist was arrested within days:

https://thetyee.ca/News/2021/08/16/Judge-Rebuked-Illegal-RCMP-Tactics/

The Community-Industry Response Group is the RCMP unit enforcing in Fairy Creek. It was created under the Trudeau Liberals in 2017. It is the same unit which enforced the Coastal GasLink injunction on traditional Wet’suwet’en territory in the past two years. That enforcement also generated many complaints of racism, brutality, and illegal exclusion zones. In addition, the community was told that this unit was not there to protect them, even if they were in grave danger.

We want to remind the public that just last June, a parliamentary committee with members from all four parties recommended, among other things:

– the demilitarization of police,

– an increase in accessibility and transparency of reporting complaints about RCMP,

– inclusion of Indigenous, black and racialized investigators and decision makers in the RCMP’s Civilian Review and Complaints Commission,

– implementation of ongoing training and disciplinary policies for RCMP officers in order to prevent excess use of force, systemic racism and racial profiling,

Here is a link to the report, Systemic Racism in Policing in Canada (112 pages).  Pages 17 – 26 lay out their 42 recommendations:

https://www.ourcommons.ca/Content/Committee/432/SECU/Reports/RP11434998/securp06/securp06-e.pdf

In June when the recommendations were announced, Jack Harris, NDP safety critic, said: “The time is now to take serious and concrete action. The RCMP needs to move away from the paramilitary colonial model to a police service model with strong civilian oversight.”

John McKay, Liberal MP and chair of the House public safety committee, said: “There is a season and a time for a reckoning for every country and its institutions.”

We feel that RCMP must be held to account for racist targetting of Indigenous and BIPOC people, unlawful destruction of property, and reckless and unnecessary endangerment of protestors’ lives.

As the federal election draws near, we also call on all parties to heed the parliamentary committee’s call for police reform — reforms that will safeguard all citizens from police violence, including people of all races, people in all states of mental health, and also those who choose to exercise the democratic right to protest injustice, whether it is against colonial resource extraction on their ancestral territories, or destruction of ancient forests necessary for the mitigation of climate emergency.

Notes:

– The National Police Federation media release referred to “an incident involving force after a police officer suffered a concussion as a result of being pushed to the ground by a crowd of protestors.”

RCMP Sergeant Chris Manseau and RCMP media releases and statements have also stated that the pepper-spraying was used because the crowd pushed an officer down, who fell and suffered a concussion.

In fact, in videos it is clear that police were pushing the group from both far and near, which forced them closer to the officer. Another officer stepped back, causing him to lose his balance, and the officer tripped over a concrete block. After lying there for a moment, he got to his hands and knees, and then stood and walked away. This all occurred before the pepper spray was used.

Officer falls about 20 seconds in: https://www.instagram.com/p/CS2Cy-wFqt2/?fbclid=IwAR0soXl7eJx8S3zc5QHlapxGBFCj3Qe7ys_uJVk7SmL6OopoG7AYm0cEEpQ

Officer gets up and walks away, about 2:20: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CS2oMmEJ9FK/?utm_medium=copy_link

Woman’s genitals grabbed at 2:15, officer is down at 2:38,gets up and walks away at 3:21:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1JilOGvtyyf33N8g3pIKyT7oHq0uTRY7l/view?ts=6127f110

There was no good reason to use the pepper spray. RCMP had created an alternate road within about 10 minutes, by cutting down a stand of maple trees. The crowd was no longer blocking the road, and did not harm any officers in any way.

Yet RCMP ripped off their face masks in a time of escalating Covid, doused them heavily and sometimes at very close range with pepper spray, and violently assaulted many unresisting people. There have been cases of people dying from the use of pepper spray, particularly those with asthma or with heart problems. Pepper spray is actually banned as a weapon in war, by the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Last year, Amnesty International raised concerns that pepper spray, among other tactics, were used as “a first resort tactic against peaceful protestors, rather than as a response to any sort of actual threat or violence.”

 – The NPF media release also states that police “have a sworn duty to uphold the law, regardless of personal opinions or preferences.”

 Yet RCMP at Fairy Creek are ignoring the law, including a recent clarification from Judge Thompson, found here: https://www.bccourts.ca/jdb-txt/sc/21/15/2021BCSC1554.htm

Judge Thompson stated: “In carrying out this work the police have a general duty at common law to preserve the peace and protect life and property” (page 20).

Forest defenders say police have broken car windows, removed personal belongings, and have taken food and other items from protestors. On Sept. 7 they crushed three vehicles, reportedly including one belonging to a journalist. The vehicles were parked on a spur road, nowhere near any cutblocks, and were not blocking anything.

When police conduct raids on camps, they routinely deny people time to pack up their tents and belongings, then trash everything with an excavator, and proclaim to media that the protestors left hundreds of pounds of garbage. Rainforest Flying Squad members are bringing a contempt of court action against the RCMP, which will be heard after next week, when Teal Jones will be requesting an extension of the injunction soon set to expire.

Judge Thompson also noted the RCMP have a duty to make safe arrests. (page 25).  Yet forest defenders describe police depriving them of sleep, water, food, blankets and medication, throwing rocks on them, pushing them causing them to sustain injuries requiring medical attention, sitting on them causing pain, and smashing the devices into which the defenders lock themselves causing acute pain. Defenders also describe the common use of backhoes, jackhammers and bulldozers to extract land defenders in dangerous proximity to blockaders and in breach of Worksafe BC regulations for the protection of workers and those on worksites.

Judge Thompson wrote that police must use the minimal degree of intervention possible to clear the road even if it is less convenient or expedient.

https://www.capitaldaily.ca/news/bc-judge-media-access-fairy-creek-blockades

 Despite the Judge’s clarification that media access to arrests is an important democratic right, a journalist was arrested within days:

https://thetyee.ca/News/2021/08/16/Judge-Rebuked-Illegal-RCMP-Tactics/

Images of RCMP violence:

 – Videos showing mask-ripping before pepper-spraying, in this article: https://thenarwhal.ca/fairy-creek-blockades-august-arrests/

– An Indigenous woman land defender attacked and dragged down: https://www.instagram.com/p/CS01IvNrSQP/

– The day HQ was raided, young man assaulted by four police and dropped on his head:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/19q2pa0Yb_Quil_sDcDxecdN_mmFef3Ys/view

– Arrest at River Camp, a young man dragged with rope under his arms: https://www.instagram.com/p/CSxXyUvhBcl/

– River Camp Aug. 20 – woman flipped over, four RCMP attack a young black woman: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/1kSpKPTI3NPE_7kuUr3ervtWELreEEDTz

There are many more. In this week alone, RCMP have broken one person’s thumb and another person’s ribs, crushed three vehicles, and denied safety protection including helmet, ear and eye protection to an 18-year-old woman locked into an underground trench, and had an excavator bucket digging right in and above a man who was in a connected trench. The young woman said golf-ball sized rocks and dirt were falling on her face.

– Car crushing: Sept. 7 at https://twitter.com/RealJenOsborne

Also: RCMP break car window: https://youtu.be/rCz9iK9TCWQ

 Will not allow woman inside to collect her things: https://youtu.be/a-A7KYs5r4c

 The elderly woman whose car it was can briefly be seen: https://youtu.be/wODl2iI82Ho