RCMP C-IRG assisted North Vancouver detachment after injunction prohibits protests on highway overpass

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: The RCMP C-IRG assisted the North Vancouver RCMP detachment when pro-2SLGBTQIA+ activists counter-protested anti-SOGI demonstrators in July 2023. Photo by Nick Laba / North Shore News.

Following Amanda Follett Hosgood reporting in The Tyee that RCMP Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) officers supported local police at rallies in southern British Columbia, most likely in October 2023, in opposition to Israel’s attack on Gaza, Vancouver Is Awesome now reports that C-IRG officers also assisted a local RCMP detachment with a protest in North Vancouver in July 2023 that had been organized by opponents of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) lessons in schools.

The full story can be read at Controversial RCMP unit aided local detachment during North Vancouver overpass protests.

Bob Mackin explains in the article:

A senior officer from the Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) contacted an operations manager with the province’s highways department, after a judge granted the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure an injunction last May aimed at stopping weekly protests on the Mountain Highway overpass above Highway 1.

‘One of the functions of this unit is addressing injunctions within the province,’ explained Staff Sergeant Jason Charney in a July 6 email to Michael Braun, obtained under the freedom of information law.

‘I have been tasked with assisting the North Vancouver RCMP detachment with the injunction which is currently in place for the Mountain Highway overpass. I was hoping that we could meet next week and go over the injunction.’

The remainder of the paragraph was censored because the ministry feared disclosure would reveal information about policy advice and law enforcement.

Photo: Staff Sgt. Jason Charney at Fairy Creek, August 2023.

Video: Charney on Wet’suwet’en territory, October 9, 2021.

The article then quotes Const. Mansoor Sahak, public information officer with the North Vancouver RCMP, who says:  “CRU-B.C. did assist last July but generally they are called upon by detachments to assist with large protests.”

CRU-B.C. refers to the “Critical Response Unit-British Columbia”, the rebranded (but seemingly still not officially announced) name for the C-IRG.

The article also quotes S. Sgt. Kris Clark, spokesperson for the B.C. RCMP, who says: “While originally created to respond to gas and pipeline-involved protests, the C-IRG has been deployed to logging protests, homelessness protests, has overseen anti-COVID mandate demonstrations (a.k.a. convoy) and been deployed to natural disaster events across the province including floods and seasonal wildfires as well.”

The Tyee has previously reported that Staff Sgt. Clark says the C-IRG’s approach to public disorder has been adopted as a “national best practice”.

This despite a “systemic investigation” of the C-IRG by the federal Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC). The Ottawa-based CRCC began its investigation more than a year ago after receiving nearly 500 complaints about the C-IRG. The CBC has reported: “More than 100 grievances accepted for investigation contain allegations of excessive force, illegal tactics, unprofessional behaviour, racism, discrimination and charter violations.”

Photo: An open letter calling for the suspension of C-IRG deployments during the systemic investigation was delivered to the CRCC on March 22, 2023.

C-IRG rebranding, expanding

The rebranding and expansion of the mandate of the C-IRG does not suggest it will stop intervening against Indigenous and community land defence struggles against oil and gas pipelines and the logging of old-growth forest.

It remains unclear how the CRU-B.C., a British Columbia-based unit, has been adopted as a “national best practice”.

That said, historian Brian Smallshaw has written: “From OPP [Ontario Provincial Police] Interim Superintendent Marcel Beaudin’s testimony at the POEC [Public Order Emergency Commission] hearings on October 29th [2022 into the Freedom Convoy protest of January-February 2022 in Ottawa] I learned that he regularly consulted with his colleague in BC, Chief Superintendent John Brewer, Gold Commander of the C-IRG, who oversaw police enforcement at Fairy Creek and Wet’suwet’en.”

Photo: An RCMP tactical vehicle near Parliament Hill on February 20, 2022. Photo by Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press.

We continue to follow this with interest.

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