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Dispatches from the frontlines of Fairy Creek Rainforest defence


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ADA’ITSX (FAIRY CREEK) DEFENDER SEXUALLY ASSAULTED AND PEPPER SPRAYED BY RCMP
 
Ada'itsx/Fairy Creek: In the early hours of Friday Aug 13, an RCMP officer sexually assaulted and pepper sprayed a young person who was linking arms with other forest defenders of Ada’itsx, also known as Fairy Creek. This arm-linking as a group is what is called a “blob." It makes it more difficult to arrest individuals, and allows the group to regain ground recently lost to the RCMP. The aim is to stop the continued road building and logging of the contiguous ancient old growth forests around the deferred areas of Fairy Creek.
 
The person recounts the incident when the officer moved towards them: “He thought it was appropriate to try to twist my nipple to get me to release from the blob, and then he proceeded to grab my boob and use his elbow to choke me,” says a Fairy Creek land defender known as “Fox”, who uses a pseudonym for their safety. 

“I thought that was the end of it when I got away from him, but he then pulled out his pepper spray, sprayed me straight in the eye, sprayed everyone else around me, sprayed me maybe for 5 seconds straight just in my hair so it would drip down my face and the whole time up I was totally blind and unable to see where I was going.”
 
The RCMP have deployed several units against forest defenders including the Emergency Response Team (ERT), the Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG), and the Division Liaision Team (DLT). Formed in 2017, the C-IRG assists in issues of disorder in the energy industry, national security and crime. The ERT is a group of RCMP members who have the authority to deploy specialized weapons, equipment, and tactics. 

Land defenders in Wetsuweten territories faced these units two years ago when the C-IRG and ERT raid included the use of assault rifles. Back in Fairy Creek, RCMP brutality continues to escalate. Injuries and incidents are reported daily by defenders. To date no legal claims have been made by RCMP that the forest defenders have perpetuated violence against the RCMP or Teal-Jones employees, or damaged equipment. 
 
Numerous complaints have been received at Fairy Creek about RCMP behaviours including excessive and unnecessary force, indignity, racism, and brutality. One arrestee who needed to urinate endured the humiliation of being videotaped while doing so. Another reported traumatic incident included a female officer exposing a woman’s pelvic area in front of male officers.
 
“The RCMP commits to uphold its own Code of Conduct which specifies that officers must act in a ‘courteous, respectful and honourable manner’ and uphold the rule of law.” says Noah Ross, lawyer working with the Rainforest Flying Squad. “The reports I have received of sexualized violence, brutality and humiliation by RCMP officers are completely unacceptable in nonviolent conflict.”
 
Forest defenders say they will remain and face RCMP in the greater Fairy Creek area at the request of Elder Bill Jones of the Pacheedaht Nation due to continued felling of trees and road building in contiguous forest areas not deferred by the BC government.
 
About Rainforest Flying Squad

 

The Rainforest Flying Squad is a volunteer-driven, grassroots, non-violent direct action movement committed to protecting the last stands of globally significant ancient temperate rainforest on Vancouver Island. Rainforest Flying Squad and Last Stand for Forests work with other like-minded organizations, and stand in solidarity with Elder Bill Jones of the Pacheedaht Nation. More information: laststandforforests.com.
 
Link to video: https://bit.ly/3spwlTK
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It just gets worse: Two Indigenous Youth Tortured by RCMP at Fairy Creek

Ada’itsx (Fairy Creek) Aug 17, 6:30 p.m.: There are currently two Indigenous femme youth at Fairy Creek locked into a complex contraption. Known at camp as Frankie and Daddy Long Legs, the RCMP are currently attempting extraction in what is being called by frontline forest defenders as the most dangerous, life threatening extraction to date.

The youth have been inside a trench since 8 a.m. this morning each with their arms locked in—one pointing down and the other pointed upward from the trench with a log between them.

They have been partially buried now as RCMP place gravel on them in an effort to force them to release. Officers are pulling and twisting ankles and wrists very hard almost to the point of breaking due to tension.

RCMP removed shade structures and Daddy Long Legs shoes during the excavators attempted removal of them under the log that was utilized in the block. The excavator dropped the log slightly keeping the arrestees stuck.

All media and legal have observers have been denied access including the police liaison leaving no one other than the RCMP inside this area.

As of 4:30 p.m. this afternoon, the two youth remained partially buried. RCMP continue to force their release by pouring gravel on them. Both have yelled that they are having trouble breathing with the mounting pressure on their bodies.

Luke Wallace, a frontline spokesperson says, “I’m so worried for their safety. People need to call Premier Horgan’s office and demand that he call off this military unit to stop this blatant assault before someone loses their life. Right now, I’m really scared for them.”

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This photo, supplied by Rainforest Flying Squad, shows RCMP carrying a protestor in an unnecessarily painful position. Photo credit: @arvinoutside

 
Rainforest Flying Squad reports "Violent arrests have escalated in the past two weeks, say forest protectors at Fairy Creek, on unceded Pacheedaht ancestral territory. They have included sexual assaults, and recklessly taking down a double tripod causing it to collapse, dropping two young protestors 15 feet to the ground. Protestors say RCMP also shoveled gravel on top of two women in a trench blockade, and are twisting thumbs, wrists, legs or arms to near dislocation or breaking point. 
"RCMP continue to ignore the court's ruling on access for media, legal observers and protestors. 
"With the use of these extreme tactics against people practicing nonviolent civil disobedience, protestors fear losing River Camp today. 
"RCMP and the BC government are criminalizing forest protectors. Our group has been denigrated as a bunch of hippies or unemployed people. Far from it. Many of the people trying to protect these precious old-growth forests and their ecosystems come during their time off, or have taken leave: An airline pilot spent his holidays here. There are quite a few doctors and many nurses, as well as scientists, teachers, professors, landscapers, retired folks, disabled folks, youth fighting for a better climate future, and Indigenous people fighting for choices about their ancestral territory.
"We understand the 'green guys' we often see now at the blockades may be from the RCMP's Emergency Response team.
"The Emergency Response Team deals with situations where extreme danger/firearms are above the ability of detachments or other policing partners. Team members are highly trained and are specialized experts in weapons and a variety of tactics." 
"But what is the danger? What is the emergency? Teal Jones' desperate need to make more money? Or is it that RCMP are trying to clean protestors out before the injunction expires -- Sept. 26th at midnight. Teal Jones has already applied to extend the injunction, and Rainforest Flying Squad lawyers are appealing an extension. The case will be heard the week of Sept 13th during a two-day hearing.
"In protest against RCMP's extreme violence and unlawful exclusion zones, a province-wide protest, called RCMP Stand Down, will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. on Monday in towns that so far include: Burnaby, Victoria, Sooke, Duncan, Nanaimo, Parksville, Courtenay, Nelson, Sechelt and Vernon."
 
Total arrests will top 700 by the end of the day today.

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RCMP MASS PEPPER SPRAY— ONE PROTESTOR SPRAYED INSIDE MOUTH AND GENITALS
 
(Video link below)
 
August 21, 2021, 14:00, Duncan, BC: Medics and ambulances were called to Fairy Creek this morning as a mass group of approximately 50nonviolent Rainforest Flying Squad (RFS) forest defenders and their allies were pepper sprayed and physically assaulted by RCMP including grabbing a person by their crotch. 
 
“RCMP have a duty to enforce the injunction, but they're systematically going beyond and are trying to break the movement, which isn't their job,” says Noah Ross, a lawyer for the Rainforest Flying Squad  “In Canada, police don’t have a right to abuse, torture and injure people, even if that's what they feel is needed to break a social movement.”
 
One traumatized forest defender recounts, “The line was being pushed. I was trying to protect an Indigenous femme. The cops started pepper spraying everyone. Then they grabbed me, held open my mouth and sprayed pepper spray into my mouth and eyes for one minute. Then they punched me hard. Then they spread my legs and sprayed pepper spray into my genital area.”
 
Not even the Supreme Court Justice Thompson’s ruling about unlawful exclusion zones being enforced seems to have an effect on the behaviour of RCMP. They’ve continued to ignore the judge’s ruling about what is allowable under the law. Reports about RCMP behaviour include sexual assault, torture, racism and injury. A recent response to the injunction includes statements by multiple victims of RCMP brutality.
 
The Trudeau Liberals just announced a campaign promise of $50 million dollars to ensure permanent protection of old growth forests in BC. “If they act immediately  they can permanently protect these ancient forests and end this violence against protesters,” said RFS spokesperson, Kathleen Code, “If they wait even a few more days --  after the trees are logged, it is all for nothing. If the ancient forests remain, defenders will have no more need to defend these pristine, unlogged ancient forests."
 
Forest defenders remain at Fairy Creek at his request of Elder Bill Jones to call for an end to this war against ancient forests.
 
The Rainforest Flying Squad is a volunteer-driven, grassroots, non-violent direct action movement committed to protecting the last stands of globally significant ancient temperate rainforest on Vancouver Island. Rainforest Flying Squad works in partnership with LastStandforForests and other like-minded organizations, and stands in solidarity with Elder Bill Jones of the Pacheedaht Nation. More information: laststandforforests.com.
 
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RCMP's level of brutality exceeds both its legal and moral authority say lawyers

Lekwungen Territory (Victoria, BC), August 23, 2021: Victoria lawyers whose clients include protesters against old growth logging have issued a statement about recent activity by RCMP enforcing an injunction in Fairy Creek. They are calling on the RCMP to reduce the violence and insisting the RCMP and the NDP government must do better and act in accordance with the higher standard expected of them.

Supreme Court Justice Thompson determined that the RCMP were making arbitrary exclusion zones and when this was challenged in court, Judge Thompson deemed the distance of these exclusion zones from their extraction activities to be beyond their authority. Protesters remain at Fairy Creek at the request of Bill Jones, a Pacheedaht elder who asks that protesters remain until all logging in the area has stopped.

On Monday the federal NDP called for an independent inquiry into the actions of the RCMP as they enforce the injunction at Fairy Creek.

 

STATEMENT BY LAWYERS PATRICK CANNING AND PHIL DWYER

"As officers of the court, we are bound to uphold the rule of law. We recognize that the world is at a crossroads, and that we require bold responses to address issues such as climate change, Indigenous sovereignty, and the overall degradation of our natural world. We are no longer, nor have we been for some time, in a situation where the ‘business as usual’ model is either appropriate or acceptable. A new and dynamic approach is needed, and the justice system must be a part of this change. 

The RCMP have responded to the protests taking place in the Fairy Creek area, in too many instances, with a level of brutality exceeding both its authority, legal or moral, and beyond the scope of what is required to fulfil operational requirements. 

The citizens engaged in the Fairy Creek protest, in response to what they and a quickly growing number of others see as an abdication of responsibility by corporations and various levels of governments, are taking the only course of action they feel left open to them. 

Government and its delegated agencies, such as the RCMP, need to be held to a higher standard. The recent events at Fairy Creek are a stinging indictment of the failure of our current political leadership to recognize and respond to the critical realities facing all of mankind. We challenge all involved to do better. Our actions today define our future.”

—Patrick Canning, F.T., LL.B., and Phil Dwyer, C.M., J.D., FRCMT

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Physician condemns the RCMP behaviour: “It’s kind of a miracle that no one has lost an eye or a life”

Statement by Dr. Stephanie von Dehn, M.D.:

As a physician, I can see that it could so easily happen that one of the blockaders is killed, any day, based on how violent this brutality is. I’ve seen head injuries. If this was happening in Honduras or Brazil, against Indigenous forest defenders, our press would be all over it, and so would the international press.

We don’t want one of our Indigenous forest defenders to be killed just because they’re acting out of moral conviction. These tactics that the police are using are intended to fight crime. And these people are not criminals. They’re citizens that are there non-violently, out of moral conviction, so to attack them and brutally injure them, and potentially kill them, just completely discredits what’s left of respect for the RCMP.

And it doesn’t work. Because every time one of these videos gets out, the people show up enraged, and more people come out, and more rallies happen. You cannot defeat this kind of widespread public movement—because there’s widespread public support for a moratorium on old-growth logging, and saving the last 2.7 percent. 

So these blockaders are doing the job that the government is not doing, to protect these last old-growth forests that the Canadian public wants protected.

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A 17-year-old in a tripod at Fairy Creek, August 25. The RCMP cut off his shirt, took away his hat, and gave him no helmet or other protection. They lowered him 30 feet to the ground by a rope around his waist—a method that put another blockader in hospital recently. Protestors offered to give officers a harness that could be used, but they refused it.

The Canadian public will be even more outraged as they learn about the brutality that’s being used on these people, who are the only ones standing between the logging industry and these forests that need to be protected, because the government is not doing it. 

This is an issue where people are putting their lives on the line to protect forests that the Canadian public wants protected, and the government has said it wants to protect, and isn’t protecting. And if this was happening in any other country, with this kind of video coming out, it would be all over the headlines, it would be condemned. People would be outraged.

Even if this kind of footage came out of Kabul, or Haiti, it would be scandalous. But the fact that it’s being done to nonviolent Canadian citizens, who are there out of moral conviction, to preserve a forest that the Canadian public wants preserved, that’s outrageous.

The young man who was walking across the gravel at HQ camp, and four – four! – RCMP officers rushed him. He wasn’t doing anything other than strolling across, and they grabbed him, picked him up and rammed him head-first from about two feet off the ground, hard. He could have had his neck broken. He could have been killed. He could have had a terrible head injury– he did have a head injury, and he did have to get medical attention, and does have injuries. But thank God he’s not dead. He could have been.

I’ve also seen the footage of how people with no helmets, no safety gear, and having chainsaws run right behind their heads and necks, through logs, inches from their heads, while they’re screaming. They’re no threat to police, to the public, to the peace. They’re just sitting there in a pile of logs. Police officers are taking chainsaws within inches of their heads and necks.

It’s completely unsafe, and it could easily go wrong. And someone could be killed. The fact that ambulances are coming every day to deal with whoever’s been injured – it’s totally outrageous – for peaceful citizens who are doing kind of nothing, other than sitting there. 

(We have heard about excavators being used in dangerous ways, but often there’s no video because police are illegally forcing media and legal observers to leave or stay sometimes kilometres away – despite a recent detailed court ruling that media and legal observers should be kept only metres away, not kilometres) We’ve heard that excavators have been used to nearly bury people, to the point they can’t breathe, and coming within inches of their unprotected heads. It means a small slip could decapitate or kill somebody, or bury them alive. It’s completely unacceptable. It’s just a terrible tragedy waiting to happen – any hour. And once one of those lives is lost, you can’t get that back. That’s on our federal government, that controls the RCMP. And on the provincial government that’s given these logging permits. And both of them are doing nothing. Nothing.

These RCMP are needed right now in the Okanagan for actual public safety, to manage those fire evacuations. They don’t need them at all in Fairy Creek, there’s no logging going on. There’s a terrible drought and they’re not allowed to log. Every one of them should be moved by our Minister for Public Safety to the Okanagan where they’re needed. And leave the poor forest protectors to sit there. They’re not doing any harm to anybody.

This is people of conscience protecting the forest. When something like this happens in other countries, we’re outraged. 

It’s kind of a miracle that no one has lost  eye or a life. I see this kind of things – a chainsaw can maim or kill someone, a fall onto their head can kill someone. You don’t have to be a physician to recognize that. These people are so courageous.

—Stephanie von Dehn, M.D.

Edited by Rainforest Flying Squad
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Guest Union of BC Indian Chiefs

JOHNSON BRIDGE BEING SHUT DOWN IN SOLIDARITY WITH FAIRY CREEK’S ANCIENT FOREST PROTECTORS

Tuesday August 31, 2021 – BIPOC youth and settler allies are currently shutting down Johnson Street Bridge in solidarity with Ancient Forest Protectors in Ada'itsx (so-called Fairy Creek), Pacheedaht and Ditidaht territory.

WHAT: Bridge Shutdown by BIPOC Youth and Settler Allies in Solidarity with Ancient Forest Protectors in Ada'itsx (so-called Fairy Creek), Pacheedaht and Ditidaht territory.

WHEN: Tuesday August 31, 2021 underway since 3 pm

WHERE: Johnson Street Bridge, in so-called Victoria, BC, Lekwungen territories

According to the BIPOC youth and settler allies shutting down the Johnson Street Bridge: “We are demanding accountability from the police after police brutally attacked land defenders with pepper spray on August 21, 2021. We also want transparency around RCMP tactics against forest protectors and demand that both Victoria City Councillors and BC’s MLA’s restrict police from using pepper spray and other supposedly ‘less lethal’ tactics against BIPOC defenders and their supporters.”

To date, over 800 people have been brutally arrested while defending the forests in the fairy creek watershed. Many of these arrests have resulted in bodily injury, especially for Black and Indigenous people and other people of colour.

The BIPOC youth and settler allies further state: “This senseless violence is part of the Canadian state’s broader genocidal violence that targets Black and Indigenous people through policing and carceral institutions.

We demand an end to the brutalization of all forest defenders on Nuu-chah-nulth territories, and an end to all policing on stolen Indigenous lands.”

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HUNGER STRIKE FOR OLD-GROWTH, AS LOGGING RESUMES 

Lekwungen Territory, Victoria, BC, September 7, 2021: 

A 53-year-old psychotherapist and father of two will have gone 21 days without food by Tuesday, September 7. “Lalita”, as he prefers to be known, is fasting in solidarity with the protestors who are trying to prevent clear-cut logging in the Fairy Creek area of Port Renfrew.

“I am feeling physically weaker, but my spirit is strong,” the Victoria resident said. “I am nourished by much support from people who come to visit me at the Legislature lawn. Some weep for the trees and the earth, some rage at the government. Some feel inspired to take an action, and ask me, ‘What can I do?’”

 

 

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In solidarity with protestors at Fairy Creek, 'Lalita' has gone without food for the past three weeks. (Photo submitted by Lalita)

 

Lalita said he was inspired by forest protectors at Fairy Creek, “and heartbroken to hear about, and then see with my own eyes, ancient trees being slaughtered for profit. I am a person who follows his heart, and my heart wanted me to take a stand, in the form of a hunger strike.” 

In order to do that, Lalita has been camping on the Legislature lawn for the past three weeks. His two oversized red chairs are usually easy to spot near the obelisk. 

At the same time, logging has begun again in the Fairy Creek area near Port Renfrew, as fire risk has diminished with cooler weather. During recent weeks of RCMP enforcement of Teal Jones’ injunction, protestors lost River Camp and Heli Camp on the road that leads up to the Fairy Creek ridge. Logging of those areas may begin as early as Tuesday, or as soon as RCMP are able to gain full access. (As of Monday night, protestors still held two blockaded areas on the road.)

Some of the ancient yellow cedars on slopes leading up to Fairy Creek are considered to be up to 2000 years old. Scientists have found evidence of numerous endangered birds and other species, particularly near Heli Camp. BC has no legislation to protect species at risk.

Logging will also continue in the 2000 Road area, another corner of the same old-growth forest which surrounds the now-deferred valley of Fairy Creek itself. Cutblocks are as close as 100 metres from the Fairy Creek watershed.

Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous protestors have worked together to defend these and other remaining old-growth forests in the Port Renfrew area. Although Premier Horgan announced a deferral in June, it affected only the Fairy Creek valley, and a small area in the Central Walbran. Altogether a combined total of just 14 hectares was deferred from logging for 2 years.

The Premier also said that more deferrals would be announced “this summer”, however, in the meantime, much of the old-growth forest that lies immediately outside the valley of Fairy Creek can still be logged. 

Joshua Wright, a Rainforest Flying Squad spokesperson, says 292 hectares of old-growth logging have been approved in Teal Jones’ tenure, mostly on Pacheedaht territory in Tree Farm License 46. “A hundred and thirteen hectares have been clear-cut since RCMP enforcement began,” he added.

“But Fairy Creek is a microcosm. Even as our blockades defend around 100 hectares of ancient forest, old growth is being logged to the tune of 150,000 hectares per year, across the province. Meanwhile, we have found endangered and threatened species in every old-growth forest we’ve looked in.”

 

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Recent clear-cutting immediately west of the Fairy Creek valley, near 2000 Road, viewed from a helicopter. Fairy Creek is just over the ridge, about 100 metres from the clear-cut. Much more clear-cutting has been approved in these old-growth forests surrounding Fairy Creek. Photo: Shawna Knight

 

At the invitation of Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones, hundreds of land defenders have been blocking roads to prevent clear cut-logging that has been approved by the NDP government.

Asked what have been the hardest times during his three-week fast, Lalita said, “the worst thing is the silence of our government which obviously does not represent people, doesn't stand for the trees, does nothing to stop police brutality.

“I hope that my actions will awaken people to take an active role in the movement to protect Fairy Creek,” said Lalita. “I just want to help protect what’s left of the ancient forests and protect the earth for future generations.”

The first blockade began at Fairy Creek more than a year ago. Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones has welcomed all who wish to stand with him to protect the old-growth forests on Pacheedaht ancestral territory, where most of TFL 46 lies. More than 850 people have been arrested since RCMP began enforcing the Teal Jones injunction. The ongoing protests are poised to become the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history, when the number soon surpasses the total arrested during 1993 Clayoquot Sound protests.

In solidarity with Indigenous-led actions to halt old growth logging, Lalita plans to camp on the Legislature lawn and continue fasting until the government declares a moratorium on all old-growth logging.

 

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Huge 'Grandfather tree' may be logged today at Ada'itsx/Fairy Creek
 
Elder Bill was threatened with arrest this morning as he and a large group of people gathered to try to protect the ancient, old-growth forest on the slope leading up to Fairy Creek. It is part of his ancestral Pacheedaht territory, an area he has visited for spiritual solace and spent time in regularly, throughout his entire life. 
 
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This photo shows young visitors to the Fairy Creek blockade in an earlier time, as they enjoyed exploring the old-growth forest. (Parents gave permission for photo publication. Photo by Aaron Yukich)
 
This tree, called the Grandfather Tree, may be logged today. Logging has resumed as the fire risk has decreased with cooler weather. RCMP and Teal Jones seem determined to log the area before Teal Jones' injunction expires on Sept. 26 and they need to apply for an extension. A number of court actions will be heard next week.
 
Yesterday, a woman who was sleeping in her van above River Camp was awoken by police smashing a window. They arrested her and then her van was crushed by an excavator. Two other vehicles were also crushed.
 
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Outraged by the tactics and behavior of the RCMP at Fairy Creek, Ray Zimmerman, is manning a sign which quotes the court decision  in front of the entrance to the RCMP Victoria building (2881 Nanaimo St). His intention is to inform the public and remind the RCMP of the court decision. He will be there every work day possible between noon and 1PM until the injunction against the old growth defenders is lifted. Company will be welcomed.—Pete Rockwell, photo by Pete Rockwell too.

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