“There have been no physical injuries as a result of any enforcement actions” by the C-IRG: RCMP Sgt. Kris Clark

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: “RCMP arresting old-growth activists [in May 2021] at the Caycuse blockade [in the Fairy Creek watershed] demonstrated a higher level of force than earlier in the week. Screen grab courtesy of the Rainforest Flying Squad video.”

The Canadian Press reports: “The B.C. RCMP will not respect a ban from the Gitxsan hereditary chiefs which prohibits the police force’s Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) from entering their traditional territories.”

That article highlights that RCMP Sgt. Kris Clark says: “While [the Gitxsan hereditary chiefs’] perception of C-IRG must be respected, it is also important to understand that there have been no physical injuries as a result of any enforcement actions to date.”

Clark is the Senior Media Relations Officer with the RCMP’s “E” Division headquarters in Surrey. It was “E” Division that created the C-IRG in 2017.

CRCC review of the C-IRG following 500 complaints against the unit

On March 9, the Ottawa-based Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) announced that it would be conducting a systemic investigation of the C-IRG.

In January, the CBC had reported: “The RCMP’s federal watchdog agency is weighing its options after receiving nearly 500 formal complaints about a unit tasked with policing resistance to major resource extraction projects in British Columbia.”

APTN News reports on allegations of “torture, brutality” by the C-IRG

In June 2022, Brett Forester reported: “APTN News spent months investigating the C-IRG, obtaining more than 4,000 pages of court files and releases from more than two dozen federal and provincial freedom of information requests. APTN uncovered a broad suite of allegations against the unit that include intimidation, torture, brutality, harassment, racism, theft, destruction of property, arbitrary detention, inhumanity, lying and deceit.”

“Tortured somebody for an hour”

In this video in which you can hear a young man screaming in pain, Wet’suwet’en land defender Sleydo’ says: “[The RCMP] came in and tortured somebody for an hour” who had locked themselves to the underside of a bus blocking a road.

Secwepemc land defender alleges broken wrist

The APTN News article also notes: “[Tiny House Warriors] spokesperson Kanahus Manuel is suing a Mountie named Cpl. Todd Bowden, who she alleges broke her wrist when applying a wrist-lock technique during an October 2019 arrest, according to the provincial court registry. The allegation has not been proven in court.”

Gouging eyes

APTN also reports it “has confirmed C-IRG used so-called ‘pain compliance techniques,’ which included gouging a protester’s eyes with a face hold, at Fairy Creek.”

APTN News: “Levi Rowan filed several pictures of a Mountie gouging his eyes during an aerial extraction. Police use of this tactic was reported at Fairy Creek, but hard evidence like this was scarce. Photo: court file.”

“I can’t breathe!”

CBC has also reported: “Video shared on Facebook of an arrest at [a Wet’suwet’en solidarity] encampment [on Gitxsan territory] on Nov. 21 [2021] shows four officers on top of a man near the rail line. The man is heard shouting, “I can’t breathe!” while the person taking the video screams at the officers to let him go. A second person who tries to intervene is seen being put in a headlock by another officer.”

Video: Denzel Sutherland-Wilson shouts “I can’t breathe!” as C-IRG officers tackle him at the Gitxsan railroad blockade in New Hazelton.

CANADALAND reports on pepper spray in mouth, genital area

In September 2021, CANADALAND reported: “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.”

Witness account of hair being ripped out

In August 2021, 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.”

Land defender punched in the ear, braids pulled

In February 2022, APTN reported: “[Mohawk land defender Logan] Staats was arrested on Nov. 18 [2021] during an RCMP raid on the Gidimt’en checkpoint. An arrest he says was violent. “About 80 to 100 RCMP approached us. I’m talking, not just RCMP but green guys with sniper rifles. They had dogs. And they advanced on us and they violently took us out,” says Staats, who adds he was punched in the ear and had his braids pulled.”

Accusation of sexual assault

In August 2021, Victoria Buzz reported: “Protestors [at Fairy Creek] have taken to social media to accuse the RCMP of misconduct using excessive force and sexual assault; the RCMP, however, have denied such claims. …Victoria Buzz received an anonymous tip linking to multiple videos posted to social media which depict incidents of RCMP intimidation and a victim’s account of an alleged sexual assault.”

Video: “This officer who is standing in the right corner there he thought it was appropriate to try to twist my nipple to get me to release from the block, he then proceeded to grab my boob and use his elbow to choke me…”

Psychological trauma

And while Sgt. Clark says “there have been no physical injuries as a result of any enforcement actions to date”, this doesn’t take into account psychological trauma.

In January 2020, Sleydo’ talked with Al Jazeera about the RCMP C-IRG raid the year before. She stated: “Knowing that they were watching every move and that they had these huge weapons to use on our people – it was traumatic.”

Other incidents

In this interview with Brandi Morin, Sleydo’ also describes how police forcibly cut a cedar bracelet and medicine bag from her at an RCMP detachment in November 2021. Sleydo’ says four or five RCMP officers physically restrained her and cut the medicine bag off her body as about ten officers watched.

Mohawk land defender Layla Staats has also spoken about the “humiliation and degradation” that she felt when an RCMP C-IRG officer winked at her as she was handcuffed in the back of his police cruiser after she was arrested on Wet’suwet’en territory for resisting the CGL pipeline on November 18, 2021.

$36 million in funding to the C-IRG starting on April 1

Despite these allegations of violence and the CRCC investigation, the C-IRG could soon receive a significant amount of funding from the provincial government of BC.

Amanda Follett Hosgood reports: “Documents obtained by The Tyee that $36 million [will be] going to the RCMP’s Community-Industry Response Group. …The funding begins April 1 and will be spread over three years.”

Significantly, Follett Hosgood adds in her article that the Public Safety Ministry says the RCMP requested the funds to enforce injunctions and “standardize C-IRG within the BC RCMP, support deployment operations and response requirements, and put in place permanent funding for dedicated officers.”

#AbolishCIRG

Peace Brigades International-Canada is organizing a webinar for Sunday April 16 that will hear from people who have experienced or witnessed C-IRG violence.

To register for that webinar, please click here.

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, click here.

We continue to follow this situation.


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