Saturday, June 22, 2024

RCMP respond to allegations of misconduct at Fairy Creek blockades


Earlier this month marked a year since old-growth logging protests in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew began.

Since then, an injunction from the BC Supreme Court on behalf of logging company, Teal-Jones Group, was granted; enforcement by the RCMP continues; and the fight for media freedom persists.

Now, protestors have taken to social media to accuse the RCMP of misconduct using excessive force and sexual assault; the RCMP, however, have denied such claims.

On Thursday, 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.

“The RCMP have been acting unlawfully and unsafely, endangering the lives of peaceful land defenders exercising their legal right to protest in Canada and mainstream media is not reporting on it,” the email read.

“Beyond the following videos there have been reports of sexual assaults by RCMP, continued media suppression and repeated targeting and mistreatment of Indigenous women, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ and 2 spirit land defenders.”

Below are the videos linked in the tip, one of which is RCMP attempting to dismantle a roadblock with a chainsaw; the other of which is a recounting of an alleged sexual assault.

In the most recent media update, the RCMP denied the allegations.

“We would like to acknowledge that there are videos and comments which continue to circulate online of alleged police misconduct or excessive use of force in the course of their duties while arresting protesters, and of protesters receiving injuries as a result,” the statement read.

“We would caution anyone viewing these videos and reading comments to keep in mind that they do not capture the events and lengthy efforts (often hours) leading up to, or following the arrests or attempts of arrests of individuals. Despite claims of inhumane treatment, our officers have taken many precautions to ensure that all protesters are removed from these devices as slowly and safely as possible.”

From bicycle locks around the neck to pulley systems in the trees, protestors have gone to extreme and dangerous measures to ensure they can continue to block access roads for logging trucks.

Emergency services have been on site to attend to any medical emergency. RCMP also added that they have not received any official reports regarding the misconduct of their officers,

“While many claim to have lodged complaints, to date we have not received any such official reports since enforcement began on May 17, 2021.” the statement read.

“Should any individual have concerns about the manner in which they were treated by any member of the RCMP there are complaints processes in place to voice their concerns.”

The RCMP also reported that they launched a criminal investigation into an alleged recent attempt to lure three Pacheedaht children in Port Renfrew.

Victoria Buzz has reached out for comment on that situation.

The RCMP have been fending off allegations for the better part of their enforcement which began in May. 

Last month, the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) won a Supreme court case against the RCMP for restricting media access.

Yet the fight for media access has persisted.

Last week, Victoria Buzz photographer, Colin Smith, was detained by RCMP near the headquarters of the protestors in Fairy Creek

To date, 698 people have been arrested at the Fairy Creek blockades.

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