Call-out for Legal Observers to be present on Wet’suwet’en territory as police harassment intensifies

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Gidimt’en Checkpoint video of police harassment, March 2022.

This week, Gidimt’en Checkpoint tweeted: “Since March, RCMP have sent 6-8 officers into our village site, between 4-8 times each day, in order to harass & intimidate our elders, relatives & supporters.”

They have also tweeted: “Come to the yintah and be a legal observer! RCMP continue to harass our elders and supporters daily. They are now bringing in dog teams to intimidate and need to be held accountable.”

They further explain: “We require a rotating team of upwards of a dozen legal observers. Your time and ethical commitment are the most useful assets; necessary supplies and training will be provided by experienced movement members & legal support organizers.”

The application form is here.

The cost of occupation

This week, APTN News also reported the RCMP Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) spent $943,234.00 between November 1 and December 23, 2021, on its operations related to the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory.

That period includes the November 18-19, 2021, militarized RCMP raid against Wet’suwet’en land defenders who were blocking access to the drill pad site where Coastal GasLink intends to drill under the Wedzin Kwa river to lay pipeline.

The Tyee has previously reported that the RCMP has spent $21.3 million protecting the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory. It says $19 million of that was spent from January 2019 to March 31, 2021, while $2.3 million was spent from March 31, 2021, to the end of 2021.

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called on Canada to remove the RCMP from Wet’suwet’en territory.

Judge supports criminal contempt charges

On April 12, BC Supreme Court Judge Marguerite Church asked (“invited”) the BC Prosecution Service to consider criminal contempt charges against the 27 people arrested in the November 2021 raid.

CBC reports: “The invitation came at the request of the company’s lawyer, who argued the protesters wilfully breached an injunction Church issued in 2019, knowing their defiance would receive widespread public attention.”

The article concludes: “No date has been set for the B.C. Prosecution Service to announce its decision on criminal contempt charges.”

Drilling to start soon

This past February, a Coastal GasLink spokesperson stated: “We expect that the micro-drilling [under Wedzin Kwa] will take place starting this spring.”

The Terrace Standard adds: “[The] company is getting ready to install a starting shaft which is a deep circulation excavation acting as an entry point on the east side of the [river]. The active tunneling work is expected to take two and half to three months.”

In a December 2021 email to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, Chief Superintendent John Brewer, gold commander of the Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) wrote: “This area has been undergoing preparation work for drilling under the river to start in February. CIRG will begin planning to remove any protestors at the site as soon as practicable.”

The APTN article also reveals communication between the RCMP and Coastal GasLink’s vice president of operations.

PBI-Canada was present on Wet’suwet’en territories at the time of the two-day RCMP raid in November 2021.

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