Update: Police Attack First Nations Protestors in New Brunswick (UPDATED 5)

[Content Note: descriptions of violence against unarmed people, weapons, racism. Some of the links have images of burning cars and further confrontations between police and protestors.]

Note: There are further UPDATES at the bottom of the post and in comments.

Here are a few updates on the situation in Rexton. As reported yesterday, the RCMP showed up with dogs, snipers, armored vehicles, pepper spray and "bean bag" bullets to force a group of peaceful proetstors, First Nations peoples and their allies, to disperse. (Not surprisingly, the usual media suspects, such as the Washington Times --to which I will NOT link-- have shaped their narratives around the "violent" Mi'kmaq and other tribal protestors who set fire to police cars in response to this escalation, rather than on the decision to confront peaceful protestors/protectors with armed force.)

 Woman at Elsipogotog holding eagle feather photo elsipogtog_zpsd54f74d9.jpg

[Image description: a kneeling young woman holding an eagle feather aloft faces armed police. The top reads: "Protect Our Mother for Our Unborn Children." The bottom reads "Stop Fracking. Stop Drilling." Image credit: designed by Gregg Deal (@the_lame_sauce) from a photograph taken yesterday by Ossie Michelin (@Osmich).]

As of last night, as reported on the news and confirmed by Shaker CharleyPete (Mad Capper on Twitter @Spacklegeek), most of the police left around 7PM ADT, after arresting around 40 protestors, including Chief Arron Sock of Elsipogtog.

John Levi, a First Nations chief on the scene, had earlier spoken to RCMP officers — trying to reach an agreement on ending the standoff.

It is not known what was said but, at the end of the conversation some 40 officers, who were wearing shields and helmets, left. About a dozen remained.

Levi later said that First Nations may have "lost the battle" referring to the fact that SWN Resources, the company at the centre of the conflict, has not agreed to stop shale gas seismic testing, as the protesters demand.

But "we have not lost the war," he added.

There have been solidarity rallies across Canada. According to the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, more are planned for today. According to the Twitter feeds I'm watching (see below), there are many supporters showing up at the courthouse in Moncton this A.M. to provide solidarity for those arrested yesterday.

I don't have a great deal of commentary to add, only that I notice this: as this makes its way into international news, there's often an incomplete background given to these actions (and I don't just mean an ignorance of the larger history of treaty rights and land use in Canada, although there's that as well).

In regards to the specific situation at Rexton: Native Peoples and their allies did not just show up yesterday to clash with police. Nor has this only been a concern for the last few weeks as protestors/protectors have actively blocked the USian company from the contested Crown land. It stretches back beyond this summer's protests as well. As should be clear from the more complete news coverage, tribal leaders have been working for two years to engage NB Premier David Alward about the shale testing and proposed fracking:

In a news release, [Chief Gabriel] Atwin said the Assembly of First Nations in New Brunswick "strongly condemns the acts of aggression that have taken place today within the Mi'kmaq traditional territory near Elsipogtog. We urge all sides not to resort of violence as history has proven these tactics are not productive."

Atwin noted, however, that for the past two years, First Nations in New Brunswick have tried to work within the confines of "a restrictive, compartmentalized consultation process" when it comes to seismic testing in the province.

He said the whole process is "completely unworkable because it runs counter to our customs and traditions."

In the same release Assembly Co-chair Chief George Ginnish said the consultation process should include "conversation on potential impacts to our constitutionally protected rights, and provide options to mitigate these dangers."

Ginnish has called on "an immediate end to the violence by all involved, to restart the process taking into account all perspectives in New Brunswick and the inalienable rights of aboriginals."

So yeah, there's that.

As mentioned yesterday, @IdleNoMore4 and @APTNNews have Twitter feeds with frequent updates on this situation. There are many individual news feeds that I've been watching; I especially recommend Savvy Simon (@MsNativeWarrior) and Mikmaq Mama (@MikmaqMama). There have also been good updates from stimulator (@stimulator).

This news is developing; if I can, I'll update during the day. Please feel free to leave your own links and updates in comments below. As ever, please respect that this is a safe space, and use content notes where appropriate.

UPDATE: Idle No more has a list of solidarity protests here. If you know of more, you may add them at the page. Also, APTNNews is reporting that Chief Arron Sock with meet with Premier David Alward this afternoon. I've also been posting some updates from inside the courtroom this morning, courtesy stimulator, in the comments below. I really appreciate and love this picture from the same feed, of Mi'kmaq Warriors Suzanne Patles and Hailey, taken outside the courtroom.

UPDATE 2: Former Chief Susan Levi Peters is quoted as saying: "It's Oka all over again." Yiiikes.

UPDATE 3: CBC is reporting that some protestors/protectors may be held in jail through the weekend. Also, SWN is seeking an indefinite injunction against anyone interfering with their shale exploration. Mmmm-hmmm.

Also, the NB energy minister says that negotiations were breaking down before the RCMP's action, the government tried to be reasonable, chiefs were unavailabe (WHUT), RCMP ensuring safety (sure) blah blah fart.

Meanwhile, the premier says "I'M A RACIST DOUCHEBAG":

Premier David Alward said Friday that "yesterday was a very concerning day." "Our communities are based on and built on the laws of the land," he said. "What took place yesterday touches every New Brunswicker and the violence that we witnesses.

"Clearly, there are those who do not have the same values we share as New Brunswickers."

Alward said he was not consulted on the RCMP's decision to take action against the protesters.

"What became clear to the RCMP is that encampment that was in Kent County was dangerous," he said. "It provided significant security issues for the people of New Brunswick."

Newsflash, asshat: most of the people at the site are New Brunswickers. They're concerned about "significant security issues" for New Brunswickers too. But in case we needed any more confirmation that you don't give a shit about First Nations people in New Brunswick or their non-Native allies, well, THERE WE GO.

UPDATE 4 [CN: descriptions of violent action]Halifax Media Co-Op reporter David Miles ETA: Miles Howe has a narrative up about what happened yesterday, including his arrest and the gradual decrease of charges against him before his eventual release. Sounds like somebody got worried that arresting a journalist might produce some bad publicity. he is certainly being quite blunt in his account, which makes it crystal clear who started the violence:

Again, one must wonder at the RCMP's pre-sunrise, decidedly violent, means of attempting to enforce an injunction against blocking SWN's equipment. Again, one must reiterate that neither members or the Mi'kmaq Warrior Society or anyone else was anywhere near the newly-unblocked compound gate. Nor were they at all capable of reforming any blockade style formation.

Again, it must be reiterated that Lorraine Clair's van the main impediment to accessing the equipment had been removed the night before.

Instead, with guns drawn, the RCMP appeared intent on provoking a violent climax on the near three-week blockade.

I say in no uncertain terms that it is miraculous that no one was seriously injured yesterday, indeed killed. The RCMP arrived with pistols drawn, dogs snapping, assault rifles trained on various targets, and bus loads of RCMP waiting from across the province and beyond.

I also note with contempt that the very night before the RCMP had brought a gift of tobacco to signal peaceful intent in their negotiations, making the attack an even greater betrayal of good faith.

[CN: more extensive descriptions of violence]An interview with Susan Levi-Peters, former Elsipogtog chief, is up at Last Real Indians. In it, she explains that the camp which the RCMP raided was largely unarmed. Further, the Elsipogtog blockaders had announced their intentions to provide a rebuttal to the injunction on Oct 17, a rebuttal which was silenced by the raid, while the current Chief had issued a press release emphasizing continued talks with the NB government.

That resolution was not to be had. Instead, 200 RCMP in paramilitary tactical gear with assault rifles were in formation early yesterday morning, snipers flanked the perimeters, canines were eager to attack at their masters command, yelling filled the air, Armored Personnel Carriers (like those at Wounded Knee 1973) roamed about, the debilitating sting of tear gas was near, a grandmother was shot in the face with a rubber bullet (the same kind that killed an Occupy Oakland protester in 2011), more were shot, more were beaten, including an attorney for the Mik’mak, more were tazed, including an elderly woman who was praying with a rosary, more were tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed, more were arrested, 40 in all including current Elsipogtog Chief Aaron Sock and some 4 members of the Council, most of which appear before a judge today (Friday, October 18). The RCMP attacked a peaceful camp that did not include the Mi’kMak warrior society’s main camp which was located opposite of the peaceful camp. Everyone in the blockade camp was unarmed, mostly women, children, and elders praying, drumming, smudging and letting their voice be heard as the RCMP shot, tazed, and tear-gassed people the peaceful demonstrators were pushed further back toward a line of RCMP vehicles which were set ablaze in response to the RCMP attacks; “at this point I was very concerned for our safety as the cars were prone to explosion” said Susan Levi Peters.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus