Filed under: Canadian Tire Fire, Featured
Following last week’s brutal 2-day raid of Gidimt’en Checkpoint and Coyote Camp, as well as several days of widespread solidarity actions in response, this week we bring you an update on the situation in Wet’suwet’en territory and the continued outpouring of support and solidarity.
We also bring you updates on encampment eviction defense in Hamilton and Vancouver.
In both of our stories this week, cops continue to do what they are meant to do: remove Indigenous people from their land to protect climate-destroying industry, settler colonialism, and white supremacy, and force poor people out of the places they can find refuge and community.
All weeks, but this week especially: fuck the police, everywhere they are, and for everything they do.
Let’s get to the news.
Encampment Defense in Hamilton and Vancouver
On November 24 in Hamilton, an early-morning fire broke out in an encampment in JC Beemer Park. The park has seen multiple rounds of encampments and encampment clearings, but community defense has also been successful at delaying the clearing of the encampment multiple times. Police and City Staff used the fire as an excuse to swiftly move in and issue eviction notices to the six residents who were still in shock from the fire that destroyed many of their belongings.
Statement RE: The events that occurred yesterday, November 24th at JC Beemer. Please read and share.
Statement can also be found here: https://t.co/cpwNL3mrjY:
— Hamilton Encampment Support Network (@HamOntESN) November 25, 2021
The Hamilton Encampment Support Network (HESN) was also quick to respond, joining park residents to try and fight the eviction notice and defend their belongings from seizure by the City. Over the course of the day, around 30 officers amassed in the park, along with eventually over 100 community members. At one point, supporters rushed the police line surrounding the encampment, attempting to break in and reach the residents. Two supporters were arrested over the course of the day. The presence of community members, while it did not prevent the eviction, gave park residents time to pack their belongings and access supports as they faced the challenge of needing to relocate and find a safe place to stay once again.
Two days later, while supporting another encampment being evicted, an organizer from HESN was arrested for obstruction at the encampment defense two days prior. As supporters gathered to demand her release outside the police station, three more organizers were violently arrested. All four people arrested that day were Black youth. Supporters remained outside the station until everyone was released, united in their rage against the police and an only deepened commitment to their community and each other.
Here is the footage of Hamilton Police arresting 3 Black youth early this afternoon.These violent attacks are a reminder of outright police brutality & systemic racism.
— Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI) (@HCCI1) November 26, 2021
In Vancouver, a rally was held on November 25th by and in support of residents of the CRAB Park encampment. The rally was held outside the offices of the Vancouver Park Board, who are currently seeking an injunction to allow them to evict park residents. There are currently about 35 tents in the park. The rally demanded a withdrawal of the request for an injunction, an end to an MOU between the Province of BC, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Park Board that encouraged use of force against park residents, and the consultation of unhoused people in policies impacting their safety and survival. Rally attendees heard from residents of the park, a Squamish youth, the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, and the group Our Homes Can’t Wait.
CRAB Park residents and their friends also expressed solidarity with residents of Moccasin Flats, a tent city in Prince George, BC. A press released published by Friends of CRAB Park reads:
Last Wednesday, about a dozen people from “Moccasin Flats” tent city were offered new housing secured with support from the Prince George Friendship Centre. Their former homes were promptly bulldozed before they could collect their belongings.
Moccasin Flats has been home to about 75 unhoused people, 80% of whom are Indigenous. The camp was the subject of an injunction attempt by the City of Prince George, who sought to close the tent city along with another, smaller group of tents. In a historic decision, the courts refused the injunction, allowing the tent city to stay. But when some residents went to look at new housing last week, their remaining possessions were destroyed.
#AllOutForWedzinKwa Repression Update
Last week we covered the arrests of 32 land defenders over the course of a 2-day raid of Gidimt’en Checkpoint and Coyote Camp in Wet’suwet’en territory. Since our last issue came out, new details have emerged about the raid and the treatment of land defenders while in custody, and solidarity actions have continued unabated across the country.
After their arrests on November 18th and 19th, many of the land defenders were held over the weekend until November 22nd and 23rd. Several arrestees from the first raid day refused to sign conditions during their bail hearing on the 19th and were held along with most of those arrested on the second day. Those held over the weekend included Sleydo’, her partner Cody Merriman of the Haida nation, and Jocey Alec, the daughter of Chief Woos. Several other supporters were held over the weekend as well, including two trans women who were held in a men’s prison in Prince George.
The news spotlight on the arrests of myself and @photobracken is telling.
There's a narrative shift from the violent arrests of Wet'suwet'en ppl to the RCMP's anti democratic conduct.
But for Wet’suwet’en land defenders, Canada is an authoritarian imposition, not a democracy.
— Michael Toledano (@M_Tol) November 23, 2021
During the bail hearings for the second batch of arrestees, considerable effort was made by the CGL lawyer to prevent Wet’suwet’en arrestees from being able to return to their territory. In particular, the CGL lawyer employed ludicrous questioning of whether Sleydo’ and Jocey were really Wet’suwet’en and thus really deserving of permission to return to their land. The judge, who, for context, is the judge that granted CGL a permanent injunction in the first place, imposed a condition on Sleydo’ that she be unable to come within 75 metres of CGL infrastructure. This is more than the 10 metres for others who received that condition.
The mainstream (and even alternative) media focus in the days following the raids was squarely on the perceived supreme injustice of the arrests of white journalists Michael Toledano and Amber Bracken. The two journalists were arrested at Coyote Camp and held over the weekend along with other land defenders. A concerted social media campaign called specifically for their release, on the grounds that they should not have been arrested because of their press credentials. Far less attention was paid to all of the other arrestees and the urgency of getting them released.
We were put in dog crates in the backs of SUVs by the RCMP. We were paraded in open court in our underwear while in shackles. I asked repeatedly to have my pants.
We won’t stop. There’s nothing your goons can do to break our connection to our lands, our waters and to each other! https://t.co/QKbGeCqNYO
— Skyler Williams (@landbackskyler) November 26, 2021
In recent days, more details about the conditions people were held in have emerged. Sleydo’ has explained that over the weekend arrestees were going at least 12 hours without access to food or water.
CBC reported that several Haudenosaunee arrestees from day one of the raid were forced to attend their bail hearing wearing underwear and shackles, and were transported there in “metal dog cages.”
The RCMP has responded to the release of footage of the raid on Coyote Camp by saying “they expected to face stiffer resistance,” as an explanation for the dramatic scenes of the raid. CBC also reported that RCMP specifically had Skyler Williams from Six Nations internally marked as “violent” and an “escape risk.” All this nonsense from the RCMP is a clear attempt to justify the dehumanizing tactics used against the arrestees, as well as retroactively justify the use of helicopters, attack dogs, chainsaws, axes, and other tools against the land defenders.
"What the fuck? I didn't do anything!" RCMP just tackled Denzel Sutherland-Wilson near train tracks in New Hazelton. Denzel shouts "I can't breathe" and another person arrives, they're headlocked by officers. Both now under arrest. pic.twitter.com/ZDBoBqdw6T
— Kai Nagata (@kainagata) November 21, 2021
In nearby Gitxsan territory on November 21st, near the train tracks that have been the site of a solidarity presence since the raid, Denzel Sutherland-Wilson was pinned down by multiple RCMP officers. In a widely circulated video, he can be heard screaming “I can’t breathe!,” multiple times while cops are on top of him. Another person arrives and is quickly grabbed and arrested as well.
#AllOutForWedzinKwa Solidarity Actions Continue
In the shadow of and in response to this repression, an impressive array of solidarity actions have continued to sweep the country. The following is an incomplete list of actions that have taken place just over the last week!
In Hamilton, multiple actions have taken place. On November 21st, a rally and demonstration was held. Some present painted All Out For Wedzin Kwa in huge pink letters on the street. Shortly following the action, one person was arrested and charged with mischief under $5000 for their alleged participation in painting the message.
— Defund HPS (@DefundHPS) November 21, 2021
On November 23rd, the Hamilton Shell facility was shut down for 3 hours and then the blockade transformed into a demo that marched elsewhere to eventually block traffic on “all lanes of Burlington St, a key industrial access road and thoroughfare.” Despite the attempt by a red pickup truck to drive through the crowd, a communique explains that the crowd stayed calm and courageous, remembering “the courage of individuals out west as RCMP officers approached residential cabins with chainsaws and axes, jamming all radio communication devices with the song “ring around the rosie” before tearing doors open and, eventually, burning at least one cabin to the ground.”
They end their communique with the following: “It goes without saying: fuck the police, RCMP out of the Yintah, and canada out of everywhere.”
In Edmonton, a rally and march with over 100 people took place on November 22, slowing traffic through downtown.
A protest supporting the fight against TC Energy’s Coastal Gaslink pipeline on Wet’suwet’en land is marching along Jasper Ave right now from Beaver Hills House Park. #yeg @edmontonjournal pic.twitter.com/yYUc4E57Aq
— Lauren Boothby (@laurby) November 23, 2021
In Ontario and Quebec, multiple rolling highway blockades were held simultaneously by Haudenosaunee on November 24th.
Via Rail is currently answering customers on Twitter saying there is a “possible protest on the tracks near #Belleville” causing delays. Looks like today’s Highway 401 blockade has ended in a rail blockade. Looking into it more. https://t.co/dQpp2ZvQS3
— Alex Mazur (@AlexandraMazur1) November 24, 2021
During the rolling blockades, train tracks are believed to have been briefly blocked near Belleville.
— Teiowí:sonte Thomas Deer (@teyowisonte) November 24, 2021
In Vancouver, a protest was held on November 23 outside the federal office of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada.
Then, a rail blockade was held near Renfrew skytrain station on November 24.
On November 27th in Montreal, a hundreds-strong demo took the streets in downtown Montreal. It faced a heavy riot police presence and resulted in at least two arrests but was nonetheless able to disrupt traffic for quite some time after successfully outmanouvering the cops.
— Eve Saint (@EveSaint8) November 28, 2021
Also in Montreal, a large banner reading “All Out For Wet’suwet’en was dropped over the 720 West highway.
"This morning in Tiohtia:ke, a large banner reading ALL OUT FOR WET'SUWET'EN was installed on the 720 W. It was insured that the banner be secured with rope and that no road signs be blocked to make sure the highway is safe for drivers." #ShutDownCanada #AllOutForWedzinKwa pic.twitter.com/dcnOToAU9U
— submedia (@submedia) November 26, 2021
In Eastern Quebec, the rail line leading to the large industrial port of Matane was sabotaged on the night of November 22nd. In a French language communique, the actors describe how they employed several measures to ensure that such actions would not harm people.
In southern Ontario, a coordinated nighttime solidarity action was made on rail infrastructure. A communique posted on North-Shore.Info read in part:
Using various methods we disrupted rail all over so-called southern Ontario throughout the night, hitting nearly a dozen different spots on both CN and CP rail lines. We did this in heartfelt solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en defending their Yintah from destruction, and fueled our actions with the justified rage we feel towards the RCMP and state for once against invading their territory on behalf of a private corporation.
In Thunder Bay, around 100 people held a solidarity march.
A group of approximately 100 protestors took to the streets of Thunder Bay to demonstrate their support of the #Wetsuweten #LandDefenders as well as denounce the RCMP. @Gidimten pic.twitter.com/LRluev02Fi
— Sean Vanderklis (@SeanVanderklis) November 27, 2021
In Halifax, a solidarity event blocked a large bridge downtown.
— angel moore (@angelharksen) November 27, 2021
On November 27th, a group of Gitxsan hereditary chiefs, matriarchs and elders delivered an eviction notice to the Hazelton office of Nathan Cullen, the NDP MLA of the riding on the territory of the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en. The group cites Cullen’s failure to act to prevent or respond to the RCMP actions against Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan land defenders. According to the office of the hereditary chiefs, failure to leave would make Cullen a “trespasser, without permission” on Gitxsan land.
RP from @git_hetxwit : The Gitxsan have evicted @nathancullen from their lands. He has failed to protect the Gitxsan and the Wet’suwet’en from the violent and racist policies of his own government. @ndpcanada pic.twitter.com/xGOnEWcqSY
— Likhts’amisyu (Fireweed) Clan (@Likhtsamisyu) November 27, 2021
Rallies and solidarity actions took place worldwide including in London, UK, Winnemucca, USA, and Massachusetts, USA.
Last but not least, at the time of writing, the highway and rail blockades in Six Nations were still holding strong.
The events of the last week confirm that the fight to protect the Yintah is far from over. Let’s continue to go #AllOutForWedzinKwa!