Friday, October 18, 2013

As it happened on Thursday morning

A Twitter pic of the #Elsipogtog protest:
Embedded image permalink

And here are photos by Media Coop reporter Miles Howe:
War Chief Seven Bernard wasunarmed, outmanned and off the path of SWN's injunction. Was any of this necessary? [Photo: Miles Howe]

Grappling with a young Warrior. [Photo: Miles Howe]

Elsipogtog youth runs in fear as RCMP descend into madness. [Photo: Miles Howe]

Far from the Mi'kmaq's last stand. District War Chief Jason Augustine faces down the barrels of 20 pistols. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Howe, who was arrested at the protest, writes an astounding account of what happened Thursday morning in New Brunswick:
...In the far field, creeping towards the Warrior encampment - which was comprised of one trailer and about ten tents - were at least 35 more police officers. Many of these wore tactical blue and had pistols drawn. At least three officers were wearing full camouflage and had sniper rifles pointed at the amassing group. The Warriors, for their part, numbered about 15.
Through a police loudspeaker towards the highway 11 off-ramp, an officer began reading the injunction against the blocking of SWN's seismic equipment. This was all before dawn.
Still in the pre-dawn dark, about seven molotov cocktails flew out of the woods opposite the police line stationed in the ditch. I cannot verify who threw these cocktails. They were – if it matters - lobbed ineffectively at the line of police and merely splashed small lines of fire across the road. A lawn chair caught fire from one cocktail. Two camouflaged officers then pumped three rounds of rubber bullet shotgun blasts into the woods.
...About ten minutes later, with tensions now becoming highly escalated between the encroaching line of police in the field adjacent to the encampment and the Warriors now on a public dirt road, two officers approached Seven Bernard, chief of the Warrior Society. They attempted to serve Bernard with SWN's contentious injunction. Dozens of guns from all angles were pointed at all of us.
...I could hear the RCMP surrounding us speaking about someone having a gun. I did not see any Warrior carrying a firearm. I can say with certainty, however, that no live round was ever fired by the Warrior side. If, as the RCMP are now claiming, a single shot was discharged, it was not from this altercation.
...Mi'kmaq Warrior Suzanne Patles, in a last-ditch attempt to defuse a situation now spiralling into a screaming match with police guns pointing in every direction, ran into the middle of the field screaming: “We were given this tobacco last night!”
Now crying, in her hand she held a plug of tobacco, provided to her by RCMP negotiators wrapped in red cloth as a traditional token of peace the night before.
Skirmishes then broke out in every direction. From the highway side, District War Chief Jason Augustine was being chased by numerous police. In front of me, everywhere really, Warriors were being taken down by numerous RCMP officers in various clothes. Rubber bullet shots were fired by the RCMP, and both Jim Pictou and Aaron Francis both claim that they were hit – in the back and leg respectively.
I continued to try photographing what had quickly become a chaotic scene until one officer in camouflage and assault rifle pointed at me, saying: “He's with them. Take him out!”
I was taken to the ground and arrested.
...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 busloads of RCMP waiting from across the province and beyond.
As an Ottawa Citizen op-ed points out:
The Mi’kmaq people of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, including the Elsipogtog First Nation, have never signed a treaty relinquishing authority to the land on which the Route 134 blockade stands today, or that on which SWN Resources is conducting exploratory testing. . . .  SWN Resources’ exploration permits aren’t legitimate. Nor was the court injunction criminalizing the blockade, and the police action was ridiculously illegitimate, not to mention unjust, unreasonable in its heavy-handedness, and terribly bad public relations for the RCMP.
Aboriginal people in Canada will remember this week after Thanksgiving, 2013.
First they hear a Throne Speech that insults them -- read what Doug Cuthand at the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix writes:
To say the speech from the throne was shallow and unfocused would be generous. From a First Nations' point of view, it was an insult.
Very little of substance was directed toward First Nations. There were several oblique stabs at aboriginal issues, but the speech opened with the same old self-congratulatory settler racism that, for many, represents Canada's foundation.
Then 200 RCMP stage this needlessly provocative attempt to disperse a group of anti-fracking protesters in middle-of-nowhereville, New Brunswick.
And today, as support for the Mi’kmaq rises across the nation, we're seeing the usual inflammatory and ridiculous stories about how the protestors were supposedly "armed to the teeth"  -- yeah, with three rifles and three hunting knives -- and the Harper PMO is rapidly deploying their cheerleaders in the media to promote the same message used against Theresa Spence's hunger strike last winter -- that they're all just a bunch of lazy undeserving welfare bums who waste millions of dollars of Canada's money.

No comments: