APTN: Mi’kmaq Warrior Society members say they were beaten, roughed-up after arrests

SOURCE: http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/10/31/mikmaq-warrior-society-members-say-beaten-roughed-arrests/

Mi’kmaq Warrior Society members say they were beaten, roughed-up after arrests

National News | 31. Oct, 2013 by | 0 Comments

Mi’kmaq Warrior Society members say they were beaten, roughed-up after arrests

(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.

“After we got split up and put into solitary confinement, my buddy Aaron as he was getting transferred, got beat up while he was in handcuffs,” said Mazerolle, in the video.

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 also denied RCMP allegations that the warriors forcibly confined security guards employed by Industrial Securities Ltd in the compound holding SWN’s vehicles.

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.

jbarrera@aptn.ca

@JorgeBarrera

HMC: Mi’kmaq Warrior bail hearings risks turning into week-long event

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/mikmaq-warrior-bail-hearings-risks-turning-week-lo/19421

Zero down, six to go as first day draws to a close

by Miles Howe

Defence lawyer Gilles Lemieux speaks to a reporter after today's non-bail hearing. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Defence lawyer Gilles Lemieux speaks to a reporter after today’s non-bail hearing. [Photo: Miles Howe]

Moncton, New Brunswick – The Moncton courthouse was again abuzz today as supporters of the six remaining incarcerated members of the Mi’kmaq Warriors Society awaited their bail hearings. Originally, the court was supposed to process the hearings of Coady Stevens, Dave Mazerolle and Jason “Okay” Augustine. However, due to the Crown’s attempts to pile on extra charges on all three men, not even Coady Stevens’ bail hearing was completed.

The defence team of Gilles Lemieux and Alison Menard have requested a press ban on the evidence presented in court today, so details of the charges will have to wait, potentially for the actual trial (if there is one) or beyond. We can say that Stevens is up on six charges, however, and they are as follows: Two counts of threats, two counts of obstruction of justice, one summary assault and one count of unlawful confinement.

The unlawful confinement would be the ‘big one’, as the Crown appears to want to proceed on it as an indictable offence, which carries a maximum sentence of not over ten years. Surprisingly, the unlawful confinement is related to incidents that occurred on or around the 16th of October, not the 17th when the RCMP viciously raided the Warrior encampment.

On this we can say no more.

The other interesting aspect of these bail hearings is that the Crown is using all three possible grounds in order to justify detaining all six accused prior to sentencing.

Primary grounds refers to the possibility that an accused will attend court.

Secondary grounds refers to the protection or safety of the public.

The rarely used third grounds refers to maintaining confidence in the administration of justice. Defence lawyer Menard notes that this third grounds is most commonly reserved for crimes that “strike at the public’s conscience.”

In any case, Menard was understandably surprised at the fact that on a day when the court was supposed to deal with three bail hearings, not even one was completed.

“Our system is based upon not punishing people prior to trial,” says Menard. “If you believe in that system, if you believe in the presumption of innocence and the importance of our Charter values, [then] we don’t punish people pre-trial.”

Menard also was quick to point out that while the Crown is at an advantage because it can create a narrative surrounding the events of an alleged crime (through press conferences where the RCMP put on display weapons and ammunition allegedly seized from their raid, for example), the public should maintain mental vigilance when analyzing such information through media who weren’t at the scene of the arrests and often blindly re-hash police press releases.

“The narrative for the RCMP and the government is out there in the media,” says Menard. “They can give interviews and do press releases. [So] the average person probably has a settled view of what happened [in the RCMP’s raid on October 17th]. That’s not necessarily an accurate view.”

Bail hearings for the six incarcerated Mi’kmaq Warriors will most likely continue all week at the Moncton courthouse.

AJA: Shale gas company loses bid to halt Canada protests

After last week’s protests over gas exploration turned violent, a judge ruled that demonstrations may continue
Topics:
Environment
Canada
Energy
Fracking protest
Members of the Elsipogtog First Nations group protest a shale-gas project near Rexton, New Brunswick, Thursday.
Courtesy 95.9 Sun FM, Miramichi, New Brunswick

A Canadian court ruled Monday to deny an energy company’s request for a permanent injunction to prevent interference with shale-gas exploration in New Brunswick. The ruling allows protests to continue and for demonstrators to once again occupy roads used by energy-company vehicles.

Justice George Rideout issued a ruling in the Court of Queen’s Bench against the motion of Texas-based Southwestern Energy, known as SWN Resources in Canada.

An informal coalition of First Nations and nonnative protesters had blocked a road to prevent the company from continuing its exploration. The judge did not state the reasons for his decision but said a written statement would be issued.

SWN Resources, which did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment, argued in court that the protest was costing the company $60,000 a day.

The barricade and protests, part of a wider movement by dozens of local community groups that have opposed fracking there for years, began last month on Route 134 near Rexton, about 515 miles east of Montreal.

The protests gained international attention last Thursday when an anti-fracking protest blocking the company’s activities in New Brunswick turned violent.

“This is not just a First Nations campaign. It’s actually quite a historic moment where all the major peoples of this province — English, French and aboriginal — come together for a common cause,” David Coon, head of the Green Party in New Brunswick, told Al Jazeera. “This is really a question of justice. They want to protect their common lands, water and air from destruction.”

A temporary injunction was issued on Oct. 3 ordering the protesters to leave. This resulted in negotiations with the provincial government, local residents opposed to fracking and First Nation leaders — but did not end the protest.


‘When cops show up with guns and pepper spray and arrest 40 people and take a situation that’s been peaceful and attack them — then suddenly it’s a big story,’ Bennet said.

Last Thursday, over 100 Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers arrived with guns and dogs to enforce the injunction, resulting in violent clashes.

The RCMP reported it had seized weapons from some of the protesters and that protesters had torched police vehicles. Activists said the RCMP moved in aggressively — firing tear gas and pepper spray and setting dogs on them; about 40 protesters were arrested.

“In New Brunswick over the last three or four years, there have been continual meetings and demonstrations against shale-gas exploration, so clearly the people are not in support of the fracking industry coming to their province,” John Bennet, executive director of the Sierra Club Canada, told Al Jazeera.

He said the protests have been going on for years and have always been peaceful. He said he tried to get the media to cover the protests before but could not generate interest.

“Suddenly last Thursday, when cops show up with guns and pepper spray and arrest 40 people and take a situation that’s been peaceful and attack them — then suddenly it’s a big story,” Bennet said.

“For me it brings images of Custer and people attacking Indian villages to make them leave. It was done in the same spirit. They could have come in without weapons and tried to mediate. Instead the police did a dawn raid in camouflage. They caused the violence.”

Spoiling the land

Coon, who spent some time at the protest, described it as friendly, peaceful and welcoming.

“My impression was that the people were overwhelmingly local and all ages. The atmosphere was almost like a block party. People had lawn chairs out. They even had a turkey dinner,” Coon said.

Many local residents are opposed to fracking because they fear their water will be contaminated, their land degraded and air polluted, he told Al Jazeera.

“These are rural communities with very clear air, beautiful land, drinkable water. They don’t want to see that spoiled,” Coon said. “When energy companies move in, they industrialize the area, which completely changes the quality of life in those communities.”

Though the protest includes a diverse group of local residents who say they will not allow fracking on their land because of environmental and health concerns, the only legal argument can be made by its First Nations members.


‘These people have a democratic and constitutional right to be consulted about what happens on their land,’ Bennet said. ‘And if that’s not respected, then they have a right to protest.’

Since the mid-1980s, 186 rulings by the Supreme Court of Canada and lower courts have established a precedent that aboriginal people must be consulted and accommodated when development on their land is considered, according to Canada’s CBC news.

That’s because, unlike the rest of Canadian First Nations, the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet peoples — located in New Brunswick — never ceded their territory in treaties or lost it by force, giving them more legal rights over their land than most other First Nations.

“That certainly was not done when the license to explore the land was given to SWN,” said Coon. “It was not done when those licenses were extended.”

Off tribal lands, oil and gas resources generally remain under the control of the provincial or federal government. A request for comment by the New Brunswick government’s energy branch was not answered.

New Brunswick’s Assembly of First Nations Chiefs called on the provincial government Monday to revoke shale-gas exploration permits issued to energy companies until they have been consulted, CNC news reported.

“These people have a democratic and constitutional right to be consulted about what happens on their land,” Bennet said. “And if that’s not respected, then they have a right to protest.”

Regardless of the result of the court ruling Monday, local community activists are determined to do everything they can to stop energy companies from moving into their province.

“Fracking will not occur there. Those communities will not allow it to happen,” Coon said. “To impose the industry on those communities … would require continued police presence and lots of protection around the clock for industry activities.”

Al Jazeera

MC: Elsipogtog: “Clashes” 400 Years in the Making

Elsipogtog: “Clashes” 400 Years in the Making

Corporate media coverage creates ignorance, which enables violence

by Dru Oja Jay

"What the RCMP are aiming at," a photo from the blockades in Rexton. Photo by @mykelone
“What the RCMP are aiming at,” a photo from the blockades in Rexton. Photo by @mykelone
RCMP snipers. Photo by @ToddLamirande
RCMP snipers. Photo by @ToddLamirande
Department of Fisheries and Oceans patrol boat running over Mi'kmaq fishers in 2001.
Department of Fisheries and Oceans patrol boat running over Mi’kmaq fishers in 2001.
“NB protest turns violent,” a CBC headline solemnly proclaims. 1,280 news stories about anti-fracking protests in Rexton, New Brunwick, indexed by Google use the word “clashes.” Most stories are decorated with photos of burning police cars.
All this points to one thing: the way that Canada’s corporate media discusses Indigenous protests is fundamentally broken.
Let’s put it this way. If a hockey player gets in a fight or takes a boarding penalty, we can count on the intrepid investigative team at Hockey Night in Canada to find the footage, if it exists, of the “victimized” player instigating the conflict by making a nasty play when the ref wasn’t looking.
When it comes to Mi’kmaq traditional territory, the stakes are infinitely higher, but the effort reporters put in falls short of a typical Don Cherry segment. Most of the reporters currently flocking to rural New Brunswick can’t be bothered to crack one of hundreds of history books that might give them the background they need to understand the situation.
In fact, they’re not even interested in the months of peaceful protests which “turned violent” when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) brought in snipers dressed in camouflage and armoured riot police who attacked protesters with pepper spray, physical assaulting those who stood in the way of violations of treaty rights and the destruction of their land.
The corporate media’s interest in the issue seems to have coincided with the exact moment when unprotected police cars were set on fire (by whom, we have no idea), and their curiosity does not extend back from the present moment. Reporters and editors seem happy to allow the racist anti-Native narratives, which are themselves hundreds of years in the making, fill in the blanks for their readers and viewers.
Are we to understand that reality and accurate understanding is what reporters are supposed to provide? If so, it’s worth telling them that the situation in New Brunswick is impossible to understand the situation without a bit of history.
In the mid-1700s, the Crown signed Peace and Friendship treaties with the Mi’kmaq. The Crown — the entity that puts the “Royal” in “Royal Canadian Mounted Police” — understood that to maintain their settlements on someone else’s traditional territory without worrying about attacks, they needed a treaty relationship with the folks who live here.
Here’s what the Mi’kmaq warrior society says about the treaties:
Under the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760 and 1761 in the Maritimes, the Mi’kmaq and the Maliseet signatories did not surrender rights to lands or resources.
Oops, that wasn’t the warrior society. It’s actually what the Canadian government said about the treaty. It’s what they have to say, because a long string of court decisions has upheld that the Mi’kmaq nation holds collective rights to the land they share with European settlers.
Let’s put this another way. If the British hadn’t signed a treaty that acknowledged the rights of the Mi’kmaq to the land, British, Scottish and Irish settlement (as well as subsequent waves of migration) might have either not happened at all, or happened in a totally different way.
All those who live on the land governed by the treaty are bound by that relationship, by law and by history. That, at any rate, is how many Mi’kmaq people see it. Non-Native Canadians are more likely to know nothing about the relationship that allows them to live in parts of New Brunswick or Nova Scotia. If they do know, they probably see it as a social studies curiosity rather than the basis of their legal rights in this country.
And that’s where the media comes in. People who have been reading newspapers and listening to CBC News on the radio for years still have no idea about what should be the most basic self-awareness.
It’s hard to say why any given reporter or editor chooses to continue not providing this essential information. But we can identify the effects of this ongoing neglect.
In the early 1800s, Mi’kmaq people were forced onto reserves. Then the colonial government made a law which allowed European squatters to claim ownership over lands set aside for Mi’kmaq. During this time, Mi’kmaq status was taken away from anyone who decides to become Canadian (necessary at the time to gain voting and other rights).
In the 1900s, Mi’kmaq settlements were encroached upon continuously, with many imposed relocations. The Canadian government forced children into residential schools starting in 1930, followed by “centralization,” which again forced Mi’kmaq families to move into two reserves (Shubenacadie and Eskasoni). Many resisted the move, and the government was only able to centralize about half of the Mi’kmaq population. It was only in 1951 that a ban on traditional ceremonies was lifted.
All of these actions violated the Peace and Friendship treaties, but settlers have simply ignored the law because their numbers are greater. This history leads straight up to the present.
In 1981, Mi’kmaq at Restigouche were attacked by police to prevent them from managing their own fishery (there’s a film about it).
In 2000, Mi’kmaq fishers near Burnt Church once again decided to assert their right, which had been upheld by the Supreme Court, to fish for lobster. They were subject to racist violence from both the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which literally ran over boats of people trying to fish, and non-Native mobs, who attacked people trying to fish and destroyed traps and boats. (There’s a film about that, too.)
Every day, non-Native Canadians make a choice. Are we governed by laws and treaties, or by the will of those with the power to use violence and legitimize it via the media? So far, laws have won in courts while violence has won on the ground.
When Mi’kmaq people stop fracking trucks from entering their territory, they’re defending land that they never gave up. Land which the Supreme Court says they have rights to, rights which they government continues to prevent them from acting on.
The growing list of solidarity actions speaks to a different way of doing things, but ongoing widespread ignorance of the actual situation is what makes this violence possible. It’s far beyond time for the corporate media to stop talking about clashes, and start talking about reality.