Haudenosaunee land defenders violently arrested and shackled by the RCMP for supporting the Wet’suwet’en struggle

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: Logan Staats, Skyler Williams and Layla Staats.

Three Haudenosaunee land defenders from southern Ontario travelled to Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia to support their struggle against the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline being built without consent on their lands.

Those land defenders are Skyler Williams, Layla Staats and Logan Staats.

They were arrested on Thursday November 18, the first day of a militarized, heavily armed RCMP raid on Wet’suwet’en territory.

Just hours before his arrest, Skyler tweeted: “Once again, our nations must prepare for another attack on our homelands from Canada and police to satisfy corporate greed. We will stand up now with the Wet’suwet’en to protect their territory, because we know an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”

After he was arrested, Skyler told CBC reporter Jorge Barrera that RCMP officers called him by name and targeted him for arrest first. He says: “When we hit the ground, our heads were pushed into the ice.”

Logan further notes: “The RCMP punched me in the ear, slammed my head into the frozen pavement by my braids, kneed me in the spine and held me down while I was handcuffed and bleeding. I was only peacefully singing our water song hugging/protecting a 70 year old Matriarch.”

And Layla says: “I saw [the RCMP] grab [my brother Logan] by the braids and slam his face into the concrete and ice.”

The CBC also notes that Skyler and Layla say their ankles and wrists were shackled and that they were put in separate, box-like compartments in the back of SUVs for transport to their court appearance in Smithers on Friday November 19.

Skyler notes: “We were put in dog crates in the backs of SUVs by the RCMP. We were paraded in open court in our underwear while in shackles. I asked repeatedly to have my pants.”

And Layla says: “We were paraded around courts in our underwear with our ankles and wrists cuffed like criminals.”

Another CBC article reports: “According to an affidavit filed by the RCMP with B.C. court … the RCMP ran Williams’ name through two national police databases — the Police Records Information Management Environment (PRIME) database and the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) — and found he was flagged as ‘violent’ and an ‘escape risk’.”

It adds: “It is not clear which police force flagged him, when or why.”

These are questions that must be answered.

But it is clear that there has been a long-standing pattern of the police criminalizing Indigenous land defenders who uphold their territorial rights.

The 30 people arrested on November 18-19 are due back in court on February 14, 2022.

We continue to closely follow this situation and call for the dropping of all charges against Wet’suwet’en and Haudenosaunee land defenders and allies.

Gidimt’en Checkpoint video from November 18.

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