Lawyer Noah Ross: The C-IRG should be disbanded or at least its operations stopped during CRCC investigation
Photo of Noah Ross by Jerome Turner.
On March 9, the Ottawa-based Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) announced that it would be conducting a systemic investigation of the RCMP E Division’s Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG).
The Kimberly Bulletin now highlights: “One of the incidents to be investigated is the police enforcement of an injunction obtained by Cooper Creek Cedar against protesters at Salisbury Creek near Argenta in the summer of 2022, which led to 17 arrests.”
That article notes:
“Noah Ross, a lawyer who represents [Last Stand West Kootenay], told the Nelson Star that he thinks the CIRG should be disbanded, or at least its operations should be stopped, while the investigation is underway, because the unit committed a number of human rights violations while making its Argenta arrests.
He said the CIRG created a large exclusion zone that blocked local residents from accessing their homes and travelling on a public road. The officers sealed the whole area off, he said, and aggressively arrested many people who were not actually blocking the road.
“It seems a lot of these human rights violations or charter rights violations were planned into their operations,” Ross said.”
Photojournalist Louis Bockner has previously reported in The Narwhal on the camp established to protect an area known as the Argenta-Johnsons Landing face that was set to be logged by Cooper Creek Cedar Ltd.
He further sets the context that Grouse Camp “named after the frequently heard accelerating wing beats of the ruffed grouse” was established on April 25, 2022, and lasted 23 days until the camp was raided by the RCMP on May 17, 2022.
Photo: Grouse Camp, April 2022.
Bockner writes on the morning of the arrests: “[The RCMP’s Community-Industry Response Group] blasted a pre-recorded message [on a loudspeaker] stating anyone blocking the road was liable to be arrested under an injunction written almost three years before. …Shortly after the message on the loudspeaker stopped, the camp’s appointed police liaison became the first arrested, followed closely by the legal observer. Later on, officers did allow one man who was there with his four children to leave but no one else was given the opportunity.”
Photo by Louis Bockner.
Bockner writes: “In the evening of May 18, a community meeting attended by 33 people was held at the Argenta community hall. Each person, most of whom were present when the Community-Industry Response Group moved in, shared their experience. Shock, rage and sadness were all present but above all there was a strong sense of resilience.”
His article also quotes Miguel Pastor, a member Last Stand West Kootenay, who says: “It’s highly disturbing that [the RCMP C-IRG] can act with complete impunity … for the right of industrial extractivism, but I would like to say that this is just a continued legacy. What’s changing now is that the settler population is waking up to the reality that this current mode of society is unsustainable and now that they’re starting to take action for these things that Indigenous people have defended … since time immemorial, they’re realizing the role of the police increasingly to be the enforcers of the destruction of land and water.”
The full article by Bockner can be read at: I watched my mom get arrested at a logging blockade (The Narwhal, June 9, 2022). For more, please also see: The Forest Fight in West Kootenay (Zoe Yunker, The Narwhal, June 22, 2022).
On February 21 of this year, PBI-Canada organized a webinar titled “Dismantle the C-IRG, end violence against land defenders” featuring Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Na’moks, international human rights lawyer Shivangi Misra, activist-academic Keith Cherry and PBI-Canada Board member Seb Bonet.
To watch the video of that webinar, please click here.
We are now planning a second webinar about the C-IRG scheduled for April 16.
Watch for more details on that coming soon.