Police violence intensifies against land defenders at Fairy Creek blockades in Canada

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo by The Globe and Mail.

As of September 17, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have arrested 1,043 individuals since May at the Fairy Creek blockades on Pacheedaht and Dididaht territories on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

Now, CANADALAND reports: “One video taken on August 21 showed an RCMP officer ripping the Covid face masks off of two women, seconds before police unleashed pepper spray onto a crowd at close range.”

That article also quotes Kristy Grear, a producer and videographer with an independent film studio, who says: “I watched [the RCMP] pick up a girl by her hair and make her open her mouth and deploy the pepper spray into her mouth.”

She also says: “I saw one officer spread the legs of a young woman and spray the pepper spray up her pants and into her genital area. I watched people be [dragged] out and choked and beaten and stepped on and kicked and punched.”

The article also notes: “There have been allegations that Indigenous people and people of colour appear to have been specifically targeted for harassment and arrest.”

Furthermore, on August 21, Stó:lō and Nuučaan̓uuɫɁatḥ land defender Sii-am Hamilton posted: “The RCMP ripped hair out of [T’Sou-ke land defender Kati George-Jim] head when they dragged her body across the pavement.”

She adds: “This police officer proceeded to climb on top of her body and bang her head against the pavement. Without question the most brutal arrest I’ve witnessed to date at the blockade. Her hair was literally on the road after her body was dragged away.”

An anonymous email to Victoria Buzz also states: “There have been reports of sexual assaults by RCMP, continued media suppression and repeated targeting and mistreatment of Indigenous women, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ and 2 spirit land defenders.”

The CANADALAND article reports: “The RCMP recommends that anyone with issues about their behaviour submit a complaint. And demonstrators at Fairy Creek have been doing just that, with at least 91 having been filed to the RCMP’s watchdog body, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC).”

But suggesting police impunity for these actions “lawyer Paul Champ says that the CRCC is quite limited in its ability to actually hold the force to account.”

The full CANADALAND article and podcast by Cherise Seucharan can be found at “Essentially you have a police state”.

Defence of Indigenous Land BIPOC fund -Fairy Creek has been established “to support Indigenous land defenders in whatever ways are needed to support their frontline work.” To date, it has raised more than $150,000.

For our previous update on this, please see RCMP violence against Indigenous land defenders and settler allies at Fairy Creek old-growth forest blockades (August 22, 2021).

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