July 22, 2021
Remember the letter the Rainforest Flying Squad sent you back in mid-May just as the RCMP enforcement at our camps began? Remember how we asked you to mind the lessons of your past, at both Wet’suwet’en and TMX, and how we pledged ourselves to uphold our commitment to non-violence? How we asked you not to target Indigenous members and to respect our right to peaceful protest?
We kept our promise. You didn’t. Here we are now into our third month of enforcement still face to face with your paramilitary CIRG unit and the list of your infractions is long. In an astoundingly short period of time, you have amassed quite the rap sheet that includes, but is not limited to:
- Deliberate targeting of Indigenous youth in exclusion zones and subjecting them to rough treatment and intimidation during arrests.
- The use of exclusion zones despite the RCMP Commissioner’s direction that these zones are illegal.
- The use of personal searches despite the RCMP Commissioner’s direction that these practices are illegal.
- The use of access checkpoints despite the RCMP Commissioner’s direction that these practices are illegal.
- Denial of media access to enforcement zones.
- Refusal to allow RFS legal observers and police liaisons to do their jobs.
- Catch and release programs designed to intimidate people for such offences as refusing to abide by your imaginary exclusion zones.
- The use of threats of rubber bullets, tear gas and arrest to intimidate Indigenous and non-Indigenous defenders.
- Dangerous use of excavators while extracting human beings from sleeping dragons, causing one head injury and putting people’s lives at extreme risk.
- Refusal to provide safety helmets to defenders during these dangerous extraction practices.
- Dangerous use of grinders, cutting a woman’s finger.
- Illegal towing of private citizens’ vehicles on public roads far from the camps.
- Illegal practices of giving personal vehicles to Teal Jones to be held for unreasonable towing fees, along with personal items.
- Illegal stoppage of buses and legitimate tour operators.
- Deliberate failure to heed the enforcement order of Justice Verhoeven that allows public protest in the enforcement area.
- Confiscation of donations meant for camp defenders.
- And perhaps one of the worst offences: dragging a man by a bandana around his neck until he lost consciousness and kicking him in the head – this after the BC Supreme Court rendered the decision about your illegal actions. Surely, inflicting harm or death on peaceful protesters is against the law and your ethics.
We thought your purpose is to serve and protect Canadians. Instead, you have used your paramilitary force of trained personnel, helicopters, tracking dogs, threats and intimidation with increasing brutality and harshness. We have noted the presence of officers previously engaged in harmful practices. We remind you that we are Canadian citizens, entitled to conduct peaceful acts of civil disobedience and bound by a Code of Conduct we take to heart and employ every day to protect our forests.
On July 20, 2021, the BC Supreme Court confirmed the illegality of some of your actions, stating that the public has the right to access the Fairy Creek area, and that your geographically extensive exclusion zones and checkpoints are not justified. Also on this day, the BC Supreme Court ruled you cannot deny media the right to access the enforcement areas. To deny the media is to deny their ability to bear witness and document events in an impartial manner, one of the very foundational rights of our democracy.
And just so we are perfectly clear, we will continue our peaceful protests as citizens, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, of this country. In this time of increasing government and corporate partnerships that fail the public interest, we, as Canadian citizens, have a duty and a right to defend our forests.
We remind you that we are standing for the old-growth forests on your behalf as well as that of your children.
We ask you to think about how you wish to be remembered in the coming years.
The Rainforest Flying Squad