(Mugshots of Mi’kmaq Warrior Society members arrested during Oct. 17 raid.)
By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
Two members of the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society say they were roughed up and beaten by RCMP officers and jail guards after they were arrested following a heavily-armed raid on a Mi’kmaq led anti-fracking camp in New Brunswick earlier this month.
Jason Augustine, Warrior Society district chief, said he was kicked in the head by an RCMP officer after he was cuffed and arrested during the Oct. 17 raid.
Augustine said he was later diagnosed with a concussion at the hospital in Moncton, NB.
“I was kicked in the head three times when I was taken down,” said Augustine. “I wasn’t resisting arrest, I had my hands behind my back, and this one RCMP started bashing my head in.”
Augustine said he was nodding-off while he was held in one of the cells with other warriors at the Codiac RCMP detachment in Moncton. He claimed his head was hit against the wall as he was being taken to the ambulance.
“One of the guys called the guards up and said I needed an ambulance,” said Augustine. “The RCMP picked me up, they roughed me up and hit my head against the wall when they were taking me to the hospital.”
David Mazerolle, another Warrior Society member, claimed in a YouTube video that Aaron Francis was beaten while handcuffed as he was being taken to a cell at the South East Regional Correction Centre in Shediac, NB.
Augustine and Mazerolle, who were released from custody last Friday, both said they were denied use of the telephone.
Augustine said all six of the warriors kept in custody following the raid were put into solitary confinement.
An official at the correction centre referred queries on the allegations to New Brunswick’s Public Safety department. The department did not return telephoned and emailed requests for comment.
RCMP spokesperson Const. Jullie Rogers-Marsh said she would look into the issue before providing a response.
A total of 40 people were arrested the day of the raid which spiralled into chaos after members of the Elsipogtog First Nation clashed with police.
The RCMP raid, which included tactical unit members wearing camouflage and wielding assault weapons, freed several vehicles owned by a Houston-based company doing shale gas exploration work in the region. The anti-fracking camp was blocking SWN Resources Canada’s trucks from leaving a compound in Rexton, NB.
Augustine and Mazerolle face several charges including forcible confinement, mischief, assaulting a peace officer and escaping lawful custody.
Augustine said the security guards were escorted by the RCMP at the beginning and end of their shifts.
“They were not held unlawfully,” he said. “They stayed there until their shift changes.”
Augustine also denied RCMP allegations that the warriors uttered death threats or brandished weapons at the security guards.
“There were no death threats, we had nobody in confinement and we had no weapons,” he said.
The RCMP held a press conference following the raid where they displayed three rifles and ammunition seized during the raid. The RCMP said officers also found crude explosive devices.
Augustine claimed the guns and explosives were planted after the raid.
“I do believe they were planted, they knew we wanted peace,” said Augustine. “They had a one track mind to hurt the warrior society.”
Augustine said the warriors were prepared to negotiate the release of SWN’s vehicles.
“They kept telling me, ‘we just want the trucks out’ and I said I was going to our War Chief to tell him to get the trucks out,” said Augustine.
Augustine said he was shot four times by RCMP officers using bean-bag rounds.
He said two RCMP officers presented the warriors with tobacco bundles the night before the raid.
Augustine said his main defence against the charges will be to demand a hearing before an international court.
“Under our treaty laws we have to go to international court,” said Augustine. “We can’t be under the Crown because we are not under the Indian Act, we are treaty people.”
Since spring 2013, RCMP in New Brunswick arrested 82 people in connection with anti-fracking related protests.