Canada Video captures RCMP officer pointing gun at Indigenous pipeline opponents at northern B.C. camp

17:10  16 february  2020
17:10  16 february  2020 Source:   globalnews.ca

RCMP arrest six protesters in northern B.C. gas pipeline blockade

  RCMP arrest six protesters in northern B.C. gas pipeline blockade Six protesters of a natural gas pipeline in northern B.C. were arrested in the early morning hours of Thursday, according to an Indigenous group. Gidimt’en spokesperson Molly Wickham said, in a Facebook video post, that the RCMP moved in the dark on the Wet’suwet’en camps to arrest people sleeping in their tents. The RCMP is enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court order requiring that Coastal GasLink workers be given access to the area near Houston, B.C. The arrests come a day after the RCMP pledged to use the “least amount of force necessary” to enforce the injunction.

RCMP are defending the actions of members seen in the video captured during enforcement, but the opponents say the explanations are "absurd and WATCH: Video taken during RCMP enforcement at the Coastal GasLink pipeline blockade camps in northern B . C . show a RCMP member pointing

Dozens of Indigenous people and their supporters have set up camp in a remote part of northern B . C ., using a strategic access point to control who can get into the territory, as RCMP officers set up nearby.

a red and white sign© Gidimten Clan/Twitter

The RCMP is defending the actions of a member seen on video pointing a firearm at Indigenous opponents of the Coastal GasLink pipeline during police enforcement in northern B.C. this month.

But a woman who says she was one of the people being aimed at by the Emergency Response Team (ERT) member says the RCMP's explanations are "absurd and ridiculous," adding she and others felt they could be shot at any moment.

The video posted to the social media account of the Gidimt'en clan — one of five clans of the Wet'suwet'en Nation whose hereditary chiefs oppose the pipeline — shows police moving into the clan's camp at the 39-kilometre mark on the Morice West Forest Service Road near Houston, B.C., on Feb. 7.

6 arrested at Wet'suwet'en anti-pipeline camp

  6 arrested at Wet'suwet'en anti-pipeline camp Supporters of the Coastal GasLink blockade say police in tactical vehicles and gear carried out a pre-dawn raid of the camp.According to supporters of the blockade, more than a dozen RCMP officers moved past the police checkpoint on Morice Forest Service Road early Thursday morning.

Politicians visit camps opposed to pipeline project in northern B . C . RCMP also said they are continuing to speak with the hereditary chiefs opposing the pipeline project and their Stubbs added officers enforcing the injunction will be wearing body cameras to film the police action, which will also

The Indigenous Services minister is calling for a review of how RCMP resources are deployed in "sensitive" conflicts over Indigenous land, after a report surfaced saying police were prepared to use snipers on Wet'suwet'en Nation protesters blockading a natural gas pipeline in northern B . C .

READ MORE: 7 arrested as RCMP clear final blockade on route of northern B.C. gas pipeline

The camp sits on unceded ancestral Wet'suwet'en territory where the 670-kilometre pipeline is set to travel through.

In the video, which was shot by Denzel Sutherland-Wilson from a tower atop a bus parked at the camp, several RCMP and ERT members can be seen carrying firearms and surrounding the tower.

One member is repeatedly shown aiming what looks like a sniper rifle directly at Sutherland-Wilson from behind a truck that has been turned onto its side.

"He's pointing his gun at me!" Sutherland-Wilson can be heard yelling. "Take your gun off of me!

"I have nothing! Please, take down your weapon!" he continues at another part of the video.

READ MORE: ‘Bring it on’: B.C. pipeline opponents defiant as RCMP arrest 4 on 2nd day of enforcement

Wet’suwet’en vow to keep fighting after RCMP make arrests at pipeline blockade camp

  Wet’suwet’en vow to keep fighting after RCMP make arrests at pipeline blockade camp The protesters say those arrested are now on their way back to the camp to keep fighting the court order and protect their ancestral lands. READ MORE: RCMP move in to clear northern B.C. gas pipeline blockade, 6 arrests made "They're on their way back, and it's a testament to the fact that we're not going anywhere," said Molly Wickham, a spokesperson for the Gidimt'en clan that is part of the Wet'suwet'en Nation."You can arrest us, you can try to remove us from the territory, you can remove us from the territory violently, and we will always come back.

In fact, the BC RCMP is impartial and we respect the rights of individuals to peaceful, lawful and The pipeline project has previously faced numerous delays, after a group of protesters constructed a On Sunday, Unist’ot’en Camp issued a statement of support for the Gidimt’en checkpoint: “The RCMP ’s

RCMP say they have arrested four opponents of a contentious natural gas pipeline through northern B . C . on the second day of enforcement Police arrest northern pipeline protestors. Coastal GasLink has confirmed work is starting to clear the service road of any obstructions, and heavy machinery was

Anne Spice, a member of the Tlingit First Nation who was on the tower along with Sutherland-Wilson, says up to 60 armed officers and canine units had descended on the camp and surrounded the tower that day, which she called "surreal."

"There were officers coming in at the front gate and reading the injunction to us, but then behind [the tower], there were helicopters dropping tactical teams that went into the trees and all around us," she told Global News Saturday.

The ERT member seen in the video was the only officer who she, Sutherland-Wilson and two others inside the bus, could see pointing a gun, but she says others were "likely" doing the same from the trees.

"I felt anger and fear that they would shoot me or my friend," Spice said. "I actually had a moment in my body where I thought, 'This is what Canada thinks of us as Indigenous people.'"

RCMP defend use of rifle for 'observation'

In a statement, the RCMP confirmed the video showed recent actions taken during enforcement of a court injunction against Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and their supporters who were blocking construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in the area.

Deltaport shut down by protesters supporting Wet’suwet’en as blockades continue in B.C.

  Deltaport shut down by protesters supporting Wet’suwet’en as blockades continue in B.C. The group says they plan to remain at the port until the RCMP leave the site of the Wet'suwet'en blockade camp in northern B.C. , which is attempting to stop work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline.Those looking to start their shift at Deltaport Sunday morning were told to turn back. According to organizers, workers are respecting the blockade and are treating it like a picket line, saying they won't cross.Morning shift is here. Brad, who gifted us with sage, has gone and come back with coffee and doughnuts. Other workers came up (a bit prickly) to ask what we’re doing.

Supporters of an Indigenous camp blocking access to a planned pipeline in northern British Columbia say they are anticipating RCMP action over an injunction 2 that its joint venture participants had taken a positive investment decision to construct the Kitimat export facility. B . C . Premier John Horgan said

"The RCMP have been ordered to enforce this ruling on behalf of the companies with the full backing of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who before the election pledged to defend indigenous rights," Watson wrote. If the pipeline is completed, it will carry natural gas from northeastern B . C . to Kitimat, where

According to RCMP, the ERT member was only using the scope of the rifle "as a magnified observation device in a manner consistent with police training," despite being issued binoculars.

READ MORE: ‘We’re not giving up’: Wet’suwet’en rally as RCMP move into main camp near pipeline worksite

"Due to a rapidly evolving situation, a scope on a rifle affords safety and efficiency to the police officer," RCMP said, adding police had been informed prior to the operation that there were hunting rifles at the camp.

Spice says those rifles, which she likens to tools, were nowhere near her group at the time of the enforcement. She added the RCMP's explanation only proves how those at the camp were "immediately treated as threats" despite evidence to the contrary.

"This is like someone going into a restaurant and pointing a gun at the chef for the knives he's wielding," she said. "Intent of the officer doesn't matter. The act itself was aggressive and violent.

"You can't use a scope without pointing the rifle," she added. "They were clearly most concerned about their own safety and showed no concern about ours."

Court grants injunction against Wet’suwet’en supporters blocking B.C. ports

  Court grants injunction against Wet’suwet’en supporters blocking B.C. ports Protesters have been blocking the Port of Vancouver for four days, and began blocking Deltaport Saturday.The B.C. Maritime Employers Association said it was granted the injunction by a B.C. Supreme Court judge late Sunday afternoon and served it to the demonstrators at Deltaport and the Port of Vancouver at 5:30 p.m.

READ MORE: 11 more arrests made as RCMP expand enforcement area for Wet’suwet’en pipeline opponents

The RCMP say despite the video appearing to show otherwise, the ERT member "did not point the firearm at any protester during the operation."

"The rifle scope has a large objective lens which allows the viewer to observe people or objects without pointing a rifle at anyone," the statement reads.

Spice says that explanation is "completely ridiculous."

"What we saw was a gun pointing in our direction," she said. "They don't think they were being aggressive, but we felt that we were under siege. This was a powerful and violent response to a group that had no intention of hurting or killing anyone."

A broken promise?

Spice, who was ultimately arrested along with her three companions that day, says the video is proof that RCMP were not honest when they told the public they planned to use "the least amount of force possible."

Asst. Comm. Eric Stubbs said the day before RCMP first moved into the area on Feb. 6 that police had learned lessons from the last time they enforced an injunction there in 2019, which was criticized for using excessive force.

READ MORE: RCMP say enforcement of injunction against B.C. pipeline opponents coming ‘in the near future’

A December 2019 Guardian article cited training documents that allegedly included directions for "lethal overwatch" — a term for snipers — and using “as much violence towards the gate as you want."

1 arrested as residents tear down anti-pipeline blockade on Vancouver Island

  1 arrested as residents tear down anti-pipeline blockade on Vancouver Island At one point, someone drove a pickup truck through plywood barriers blocking Highway 19.Demonstrators opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline erected barriers at Exit 117 of Highway 19 near Courtenay in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs around 12:30 a.m.

RCMP have denied the article's allegations, but say they adopted recommendations from a review of that operation into planning for this year's enforcement.

Spice says what she witnessed on that tower shows RCMP have learned nothing from 2019.

READ MORE: B.C. First Nation, RCMP spar over report ‘lethal overwatch’ ordered for northern pipeline arrests

"This felt like an expansion of the powers we saw last year," she said. "They seem to be more concerned about optics than their operations, and how they will impact us.

"The same kind of violence was faced by my ancestors, by my parents, and now again by us. It doesn't matter what RCMP or the politicians say. We're having conversations at the barrel of a gun."

With work now underway at the Coastal GasLink site, opponents to the project are now returning to the nearby camps that were cleared during the enforcement. Spice says she wants to return too but is wary of what could come next.

"That's my home. I would love to return there without constant RCMP overwatch and enforcement, but I don't know when that's going to be possible," she said.

RCMP said they expect their actions during the days-long enforcement that saw 28 arrests to be assessed independently, but expressed hope those actions will be not taken out of context.

"We hope that our actions will be assessed in their entirety and the need for future enforcement is not necessary as all parties work to support efforts that reduce tensions and ensure a peaceful resolution," they said.

READ MORE: Coastal GasLink opponents return to northern B.C. camps, but say workers still allowed in

The $6.6-billion Coastal GasLink project is meant to carry natural gas from northeastern B.C. to Kitimat.

The company has signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected Indigenous councils along the route.

But hereditary chiefs who oppose the project say elected councils only have jurisdiction over First Nations reserves. The hereditary chiefs claim authority over rights and title to land that was never covered by treaty.

Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs arrive in Kahnawake, Que. .
KAHNAWAKE, Que. — Traditional chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation have arrived in Kahnawake, Que., as they continue their tour of Mohawk communities in eastern Canada where rail blockades in solidarity with their cause have been erected. Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs oppose the Coastal GasLink project that would carry natural gas to the B.C. coast, though others in the community support the pipeline. Countrywide protests and blockades followed a move by RCMP to enforce a court injunction this month against the hereditary chiefs and their supporters, who had been obstructing an access road to a Coastal GasLink work site.

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