HMC: Prelude to the Raid: Interview with Warrior Society District chief suggests Irving-owned security, RCMP, engaged in pre-October 17th charge trumping

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/prelude-raid/19596

Prelude to the Raid

Interview with Warrior Society District chief suggests Irving-owned security, RCMP, engaged in pre-October 17th charge trumping.

by Miles Howe

Why did this Industrial Security Limited employee approach a sacred fire, while armed, on October 15th? [Photo: Miles Howe]
Why did this Industrial Security Limited employee approach a sacred fire, while armed, on October 15th? [Photo: Miles Howe]

REXTON, NEW BRUNSWICK – The dominant police-fuelled discourse circulating is that on October 17th, the police were forced to raid an armed camp of anti-shale gas protestors along highway 134, near Rexton, New Brunswick.

Adding fuel to this narrative is the fact that the police have laid several charges, ranging from threats to assault to unlawful confinement, in relation to events that they claim occurred on October 15th and 16th.

The end result is a story in which the RCMP, despite drawing in Emergency Response Teams from Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and New Brunswick; despite raiding an until-then peaceful encampment with guns drawn in the pre-dawn on the 17th; despite firing numerous rounds of less-lethal ammunition into unarmed people at point blank range; and despite spraying men and women with pepper spray, were simply de-escalating a tense situation.

However, an interview with Signigtog District War Chief Jason Augustine – himself present at the encampment since it’s inception, and now facing numerous charges – begins to peel back the layers of the RCMP’s imagery, and presents a very different recounting of events that occurred over October 15th and 16th.

It’s a story that shows a clear attempt by Irving-owned Industrial Security Limited to taunt and bait members of the Warriors Society on October 15th and 16th – in some cases going directly against already-negotiated agreements that existed between the Mi’kmaq Warriors Society and the RCMP – in order to create a fiction in which the Warriors could be later charged with a variety of accusations that supposedly occurred on those two days.

It’s also a story that shows the RCMP negotiating in extremely poor faith..

Since late September, 2013, Irving-owned Industrial Security Limited was the main security unit patrolling the fenced-in compound where SWN Resources Canada’s equipment was being held along highway 134. Generally, and for the duration of the life of the encampment, there were between about four and ten security guards patrolling the fenced-in area.

The fenced-in compound had one main gate, at the corner closest to the access road to highway 134. But the fence around the compound itself was not a permanent structure, and pieces could quickly be latched and unlatched, creating make-shift gates at any desired point.

Indeed, because the one main gate opened onto the 134 access road, which had become one of the main traffic points of the encampment, Augustine notes that the Warrior Society and the RCMP had earlier negotiated that ISL shift changes would take place via an already-built back road that opened onto an off-ramp of highway 11.

ISL guards would leave the fenced-in compound at the extreme opposite corner of the compound, about 200 meters from the main gate, through a make-shift gate. This was a scenario that had been taking place in good faith for numerous days prior to October 15th.

“We had already set a negotiation [regarding] the backside [of the compound]”, says Augustine. “We made them a road where [ISL workers] could go in and back out. And each time the shift change started there were always two Warriors and four RCMPs [to escort the workers]. We negotiated that with Denise Vautour and Marc Robichaud (two of the RCMP’s negotiators). We negotiated that and we all said ‘That’s pretty good, we’re in a working [compromise] right now.’”

Yet on October 15th, in a situation that Augustine cannot remember happening during the duration of the encampment, an ISL security guard, later identified as former New Brunswick Highway Patrolman Gary Flieger, opened the front gate of the fenced-in compound and began wandering around an area of the encampment where a sacred fire had been lit.

He had crossed a line of cedar that had been placed on the gravel road in front of the sacred fire, and was standing – armed, according to Augustine – in front of the fire. This was where Coady Stevens, another member of the Warriors Society, found Flieger.

It is of particular importance to note that – according to Augustine – the Warrior Society and the RCMP had even negotiated for the possibility that an ISL security guard would want to come and pray at the sacred fire. The guards could come and pray any time they wanted, but neither they, nor anyone else, was permitted to bring weapons of any kind to the sacred fire.

“[ISL] already knew,” says Augustine. “When we negotiated the first time, when an ISL worker comes out to the sacred fire – because they were welcome, anytime they were welcome – as long as they don’t have any weapons. [But] they could come and pray with us anytime they want. And that was part of the negotiations. They could come out at any time and pray with us, or go out the back way and shift change then.”

Augustine describes a brief altercation that then took place, one that he suggests Flieger took to a physical level. But for one quick push of Flieger, and for escorting Flieger back through the front gate of the fenced-in compound, Coady Stevens – who remains incarcerated and who was denied bail – faces charges of assault, threats and unlawful confinement. All these charges are, of course, pre-October 17th.

Lost in the dominant narrative is why Flieger left the front gate of the compound on the morning of the 15th and wandered, armed, to a sacred fire. Lost also is how, with an already-built back gate that was frequently used, any of this constitutes unlawful confnement.

There was no shift change taking place at the time. Indeed shift changes took place at the exact other end of the fenced-in compound. If Flieger wanted to pray at the sacred fire, not something he had done during any of his other shifts, Augustine suggests that he was welcome to do so – provided he approached the fire unarmed.

This is especially problematic if, as Augustine suggests, RCMP negotiators Denise Vautour and Marc Robichaud had already negotiated these terms in good faith with the Warriors.

Augustine notes that on the evening of the 15th, RCMP negotiator Denise Vautour again texted him, asking about the altercation that had happened.

“On the night of the 15th I got a text from Denise [Vautour] saying ‘What’s going on down there? How come a Warrior is pushing ISL?’” says Augustine. “Right off the bat we told them ‘Hold it. ISL came out to the sacred fire with his weapon out. Remember when we negotiated that they’re not supposed to have weapons around the sacred fire.’ She said ‘OK, we didn’t know that.’ Then she asked if we could meet. I said ‘Yes, we’ve got to meet and talk about this and resolve this as quick as possible, in a peaceful way’…That night we all agreed that: ‘Yes, everything is peaceful again. Let’s keep it that way.’”

The morning of the 16th, apparently, was out of the ordinary as well. Augustine notes that ISL staff was being especially belligerent to the Warriors who were stationed at the fence.

“When I came out I told [ISL]: ‘Whoa guys you have to be peaceful,’” says Augustine. “This was from the RCMP. I told them right of the bat that we’d been negotiating all this time for peace, and that you guys have to cooperate with us.”

Several Warriors have been charged with threats related to the 16th of October. It is assumed that these charges are related to this series of verbal altercations.

Augustine notes that the Warriors had also already negotiated with the RCMP in order to create a neutral ‘no-go’ zone around the fenced-in compound, in order that ISL security working within the fenced-in compound would not be verbally harassed by over-exuberant activists.

“It was always a concern for their safety too,” says Augustine. “We wanted them safe, because we knew that they were only there for their jobs.

“That morning, when things were escalating, right off the bat we went to Denise [Vautour] and Marc [Robichaud] and said ‘You’ve got to help us. These guys are not being peaceful. You guys have got to help us bring in the RCMP instead of ISL.’”

Mid-morning of the 16th, another meeting was held between the Warriors Society and the RCMP. In effect, what was being negotiated was a replacement of ISL security – which over the last two days had begun to act in an aggressive manner – with an RCMP contingent that would either remain in the fenced-in compound or patrol the ‘no-go’ zone – and monitor SWN’s equipment. In the interim, Augustine notes that he asked for the Warriors to vacate the ‘no-go’ zone to de-escalate the situation.

According to Augustine, after analyzing the situation, RCMP negotiators Vautour and Robichaud came to a similar conclusion as the Warriors: It was ISL security who was escalating the situation, not the Warriors.

“Denise [Vautour] and Marc [Robichaud] came along and said: ‘Jason, the RCMP are coming now, they’re going to take [ISL] out for you. We finally realized that they’re the problem too.’ So they were taken out right away.”

Augustine notes that the security duty exchange between ISL and RCMP took place between 3 and 4pm.

By the night of the 16th, Aboriginal RCMP negotiators had been brought in, supposedly in an attempt to calm the situation. Augustine again notes that these new negotiators, a constable ‘Fraser’ from Saskatchewan and a constable Walter Denny from Nova Scotia, confirmed with him that it was ISL security who was acting in a provocative and aggressive manner.

“Fraser and Denny] said: ‘These guys were very disrespectful, and on your guys’ part, you guys were just here trying to keep the peace,” says Augustine. “'[ISL] was so disrespectful that they were even disrespectful to us, because we were Natives.’”

With RCMP officers now replacing the “disrespectful” ISL security force, Augustine notes that the Aboriginal RCMP negotiators made further attempts to court peace with the Warriors.

“That night, around 10pm, constable Fraser and constable Denny came up to us. They wrapped tobacco in red felt and told us: ‘From now on it’s going to be peaceful.’ And they handed me the tobacco,” says Augustine. “They handed it right to me and said: ‘This is for peace. We understand that you guys only want peace. So everything’s going to be peaceful now. Negotiations have to start now.’

“We took the tobacco, me and Jim [Pictou]. We all shook hands. And we gave them tobacco too. I took tobacco out of my cigarette pack, broke it, and gave one to Walter [Denny] and one to Fraser and I told them ‘Yes, it’s now peaceful now.’ I took the tobacco back to our sacred bag. We had a bag full of a lot of our sacred stuff; sweet grass, sage, buffalo sage and all the medicines that we have there. And they left.”

Having successfully negotiated for the removal of the ISL security team, to be replaced by a patrol of RCMP officers, and having been given tobacco by two Aboriginal negotiators who allegedly confirmed the disrespectful nature of the Irving-owned employees, Augustine notes that the rest of the evening of the 16th, up until the morning of the 17th, was entirely uneventful.

The raid of the 17th , in which dozens of RCMP officers surrounded the Warriors encampment with a variety of weaponry already drawn, was a surprise to Augustine, both in terms of the amount of armaments, but more importantly in terms of the RCMP’s intent of the night before.

“That morning when I woke up to do my traffic control, I started about 6:30,” says Augustine. “I got my coffee ready and I didn’t even start drinking my coffee when the RCMP came out with guns drawn on us. The night before was peaceful. Even the RCMP was kind of happy that it was peaceful now. Nobody was escalating. Everybody was laughing. Everybody was drumming. Even the RCMP would drive by and wave to us. They knew it was peaceful.

“But all of a sudden that October 17th morning…Holy. All of a sudden they came up with guns drawn…Where’s that peace?”

When analyzing the potential of ISL – and their Irving paymasters – knowingly crafting a scenario involving trumped up charges against members of the Warriors Society, all the while working in collusion with the RCMP – and their Crown paymasters – it is also important to remember that a public hearing against SWN’s injunction against protestors was set for the morning of October 18th in Moncton.

The injunction named all of New Brunswick – under John and Jane Doe – as being potentially on the legal hook for inhibiting SWN’s access to it’s seismic testing equipment. Pre-18th legal opinions put forward on social media sites suggested that the injunction didn’t have a legal leg to stand on – indeed the injunction was subsequently overturned – but it did serve the purpose of intimidating activists concerned about their own estates from attending the encampment.

The 18th, and the potential of the public hearing overturning the injunction, presented a situation that may well have seen a surgin renewal of people at the highway 134 encampment. Crafting a narrative to negate that potential through strange actions, including having ISL guards leaving a front gate not used for shift changes and approaching a sacred fire while armed, and taunting Warriors who had made a habit of not only peacefully escorting ISL security during shift changes, but feeding the guards with home-cooked meals, resulted in a series of pre-raid charges.

Just the narrative needed for a pre-18th raid.

With these charges in their back pocket, the RCMP was free to create an ‘escalating tension’ scenario that they could then feed to a mainstream press. Coupled with the photogenic imagery of burning police cars and a press conference with a table full of armaments – neither of which can be yet, if ever, attributed to members of the Warriors Society – and the justification for the pre-dawn raid was set.

According to Augustine, from one side of their mouths RCMP negotiators spoke of peace, offered gifts and agreed that it was ISL security who was the incendiary side of the equation. All the while, however, a series of pre-raid charges, which still hang over numerous members of the Warriors Society, was being levied against them.

HMC: Gone for the summer – SWN Resources Canada folds ’til September

Gone for the summer – SWN Resources Canada folds ’til September

Shale gas company allowed to detonate 11 more un-exploded shot holes – charges against 25 of 35 will be dropped.

by Miles Howe

» Download file ‘johnlevi.mp3’ (3.4MB)

Eslipogtog War Chief John Levi. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Eslipogtog War Chief John Levi. [Photo: Miles Howe]

ELSIPOGTOG, NEW BRUNSWICK – Minutes ago, afternoon negotiations between the RCMP, Elsipogtog Chief Arren Sock, Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi, former Elsipogtog Chief Susan Levi-Peters, Mi’kmaq Warrior Society Chief ‘Seven’ and others concluded with a few key announcements.

  • SWN Resources Canada will be permitted to detonate 11 un-exploded shot-holes along ‘Line 5’, the backwoods seismic testing line west of highway 126 that the company is currently attempting to test for shale gas. A team of observers from Elsipogtog First Nation, which will include 8 scouts, 3 Grandmothers and 2 Elsipogtog Peacekeepers will be tasked with observing the completion of SWN’s work. No more testing will be allowed for these remaining 11 shot holes.
  • Charges laid against 25 of the 35 arrested in the protests against SWN’s seismic testing will be dropped, pending an unmolested completion of SWN’s detonation work. This work is expected to be completed by Friday, August 2nd.
  • People who have already entered the court system will not have their charges dropped. These include Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi and activist Susanne Patles, as well as others.
  • SWN is expected to return to seismic test in Kent County in mid-September. It will then focus it’s efforts on lines ‘3’ and ‘4’. These seismic test lines are far closer to Elsipogtog First Nation, in some instances bordering the community by only a few kilometers. SWN’s earlier attempts to seismic test these lines resulted in significant equipment destruction.
Please enjoy the following interview with Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi.

HMC: Undercover RCMP crash anti-shale gas press conference, activists remain in woods on ‘Line 5’

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/undercover-rcmp-crash-anti-shale-gas-press-confere/18362

Undercover RCMP crash anti-shale gas press conference, activists remain in woods on ‘Line 5’

Nightfall finds unknown number of activists still in woods along SWN’s woodland testing line.

by Miles Howe

By now a familiar site. Police and security together bar entrance to SWN's seismic testing lines. [Photo: M. Howe]
By now a familiar site. Police and security together bar entrance to SWN’s seismic testing lines. [Photo: M. Howe]

See also:

DIEPPE, NEW BRUNSWICK – Yesterday, Upriver Environment Watch called a press conference at the Super 8 motel in Dieppe, New Brunswick. Attended by about 50 people, including 4 representatives from the media, the anti-shale gas action group from Kent County hosted a panel of speakers with a variety of expertise and experience.
“Impunity is the word we’re working with today,” said Anne Pohl, host of the press conference.
Pohl had, on July 19th, sent an open letter to New Brunswick Premier David Alward. The letter was at once an invitation to Alward to attend the press conference (neither he nor any member of his caucus attended) as well as a point by point description of the experienced hardships that those continuing to call for a moratorium on shale gas exploration in New Brunswick have experienced in their dealings with the RCMP, SWN Resources Canada as well as their elected government representatives.
If there was a continuous thread to the press conference, it was a general sense of frustration.
“We feel it is time for your government to stop directing the RCMP to harass us and to throw us in jail,” read the open letter to Premier Alward from the Upriver Environment Watch.
“It is time for your government to start talking with us. We have been trying to communicate with you for a long time. We have tried petitions, letters, requests for meetings, protests and everything else we could think of to get your attention. Your avoidance of us has been complete. We are extremely disappointed in your government’s failure to respond and acknowledge our concerns. We ask for you to respect and recognize the legitimacy of our concerns.
Chris Sabas, one of two members of the Christian Peacemakers Team that has been invited to document the anti-shale actions by Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi, was the first presenter. Her information focused on her recent excursions visiting post-testing areas along ‘Line 5’, the backwoods seismic testing line that has for weeks now been the focus of SWN Resources Canada’s testing efforts.
Sabas’ had photographic evidence of unplugged ‘shot holes’, as well as disturbing photographs of animal tracks that she noted appeared in large numbers around post-explosion zones.
Willi Nolan, a long-time resident of Kent County, as well as a member of Upriver Environment Watch, focused her presentation on the dangers of the chemicals already being used in SWN’s exploration processes.
Nolan noted that while information was not readily available, SWN was most likely using a TNT explosive to detonate it’s shot holes. Having already detonated dozens of shot holes throughout the backwoods along ‘Line 5’, Nolan noted that there was no evidence of independent monitors looking after post-testing zones.
Celianne Cormier, another lifelong resident of Kent County, recounted her personal story of being bullied by SWN and Stantec Engineering when it came time for her water to be tested leading up to testing in 2011.
Cormier related a situation where it did not appear that Stantec, ostensibly a third party independent water testing company, was acting at an arm’s length from SWN, the company required to do the water testing. In fact, every time a “water tester” called the Cormier residence, she noted that they claimed to be calling on behalf of SWN. Cormier felt increasingly skeptical when water testers consistently refused to produce identification that they were in fact Stantec employees.
“Why were the callers introducing themselves as calling from SWN and why was SWN calling the shots if the testing was being done by an independent or third party?” asked Cormier. “I lost all confidence in the process, I felt violated and bullied because I felt I was not asking for anything special. In fact I felt I was only insisting on the world class safe ans secure practices as promised by our provincial government.”
Ann Pohl spoke about the difficulty of having the concerns of the citizens of New Brunswick properly heard and represented by a mainstream media almost completely controlled by the powerful Irving empire. Pohl noted that Irving, who stands to benefit from shale gas extraction  in any number of ways; from trucking, to shipping, to processing, and on, was knowingly marginalizing the message of those opposed to shale gas extraction, often framing it as a ‘Native issue’.
After fielding questions from the media, the press conference then turned into an open forum, with various concerned citizens from around the province voicing their concerns about the increasingly obvious signs of industrial hostility, whether in disregard for the natural environment, complicity with law enforcement bodies, both public and private, and lack of concern from elected officials.
As if on cue, as one woman was describing the difficulties of trying to continue to live alongside a pot ash mine in Penobsquis, it became apparent that two undercover RCMP officers had been taking notes throughout the entire press conference. When asked what they were doing, constable Dave Matthews noted that he was taking notes on “the mood” of the press conference. When cameras were trained on the officers, they quickly fled the conference.
Rogersville heats up
It may well be that the blatant disrespect of laying seismic testing equipment immediately adjacent to a cemetery where family members and war veterans lie has begun to galvanize Rogersville’s Acadian population into action.
Today, only two days after the RCMP lied to activists attempting to park on parish land adjacent to their cemetery, telling those attempting to gather that it was private property, an emboldened crowd of about 60 Acadians, Anglophones and Indigenous people – united in their purpose – gathered in the pouring rain next to an active testing line.
Fearless of the potential danger of un-exploded ordinance, a number of people ventured southward down the active testing line, heading away from Pleasant Ridge Road towards Salmon River Road. With the constant hum of a helicopter transporting bagged geophones as a backdrop, activists wandered the freshly cut seismic line. Many noticed the presence of traditionally used medicinal plants growing directly next to un-detonated shot holes.
While most people exited the seismic test line by nightfall, as of press time an unknown number of individuals remain in the woods near the ordinance.

HMC: SWN drills more wetlands shot-holes, security guard finds prayer and white doves in the morning

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/swn-drills-more-wetlands-shot-holes-security-guard/18314

SWN drills more wetlands shot-holes, security guard finds prayer and white doves in the morning

Line 5 work continues, Holiday Inn action draws 35 women in white.

by Miles Howe and Rana Encol

Security guard prays for Mother Nature at the site of a wetlands shot-hole. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Security guard prays for Mother Nature at the site of a wetlands shot-hole. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Women in white gathered at the Holiday Inn in Moncton to protest SWN Resource Canada's continued seismic testing in New Brunswick. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Women in white gathered at the Holiday Inn in Moncton to protest SWN Resource Canada’s continued seismic testing in New Brunswick. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Shot hole driller takes a flower. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Shot hole driller takes a flower. [Photo: Miles Howe]
ELSIPOGTOG, NEW BRUNSWICK – Yesterday, a group of anti-shale gas activists stumbled across a team of SWN-contracted workers laying a string of ‘geophones’ – the equipment used to received seismic data created when an area is tested – on a walking trail bordering a settler cemetery at 2304 Pleasant Ridge Road. SWN Resources Canada continues to seismic test ‘Line 5’, a 35.9 km north-south line that cuts through sensitive wetlands and traditional Mi’kmaq hunting grounds west of highway 126.

While the activists remained peaceful at all times, the workers appeared surprised to be discovered, retreating deeper into the woods and calling Industrial Security Limited, the Irving-owned firm that has for weeks now been providing the majority of SWN’s private security needs.

Continuing along the workers’ path, the activists discovered a drilled shot-hole – a hole bored into the ground that contains an explosive charge that will later be set off to gather seismic data – directly in a wetlands area. This falls in line with an earlier discovery of SWN Resources Canada circumventing registered wetlands regulations further south along Line 5.

Two Industrial Security Limited employees then arrived, and, citing workplace safety policy which does not allow anyone without protective equipment to come closer than 50 metres to an explosive at a workplace, informed the gathering party that they would not be allowed to proceed further into the woods. This was despite the fact that the activists were less than 3 metres from the explosive-laden shot hole.

For the next several hours, something of a standoff ensued, with a growing number of security guards, RCMP and activists congregating in the woods. At one point, three Mi’kmaq women asked if they could lay tobacco at the site of the shot-hole. An Industrial Security guard offered to lay the tobacco in their stead, and while the group played the Mi’kmaq Honour Song, the guard prayed to the four directions. He later left the scene in tears.

As evening fell, it became clear that the security and RCMP were – as has been largely the case to this point – concerned almost exclusively with the well-being of SWN-contracted workers and not with the safety of those who continue to rally against shale gas exploration in New Brunswick. People questioning why they were, for example, allowed on one particular piece of the trail and not another – when the 50 metre boundary zone had already clearly been compromised – were given no clear answer.

RCMP, security and activists posed for pictures atop the shot hole, and once it was clear that the SWN-contracted workers were finished their shift, all security and police forces cleared out of the area, and the activists were free to continue along the trail. 5 more shot-holes were discovered drilled directly in wetlands areas.

The seismic testing trail continued for approximately three kilometres, crossed a small river, and wound it’s way up to Young Ridge Road.

Further inspection of the trail, to the south of the original cemetery entrance, was met with an increased security presence, including RCMP guards and armed security guards on All-Terrain Vehicles.

White Doves at the Holiday Inn

Earlier that morning around thirty-five Mi’kmaq, Acadian, and Anglophone women dressed in white, holding flowers and leaflets, occupied the parking lot entrance ways to the Holiday Inn hotel where SWN workers stay in Moncton.

Every morning the workers leave the hotel by truck and disperse to their respective testing sites and security posts – this morning to Line 5.

Nine of the women drummed and sang as they entered the lot and circled the company vehicles.  Others handed out flyers to workers and regular hotel guests.

Ruth Wolpin, a cancer survivor, says short-term economic gains from fracking aren’t worth the long-term health effects caused by carcinogens contaminating the well water.

In their leaflets, the group argues the numbers don’t add up: “Jobs available to New Brunwickers will be few, low paying and short-lived. The typical well is productive for just five years, and its profits will mostly travel out of the province.”

Organizer Greg Cook, who first mobilized around resisting the sale of NB Power in 2009-2010, asserted the current Alward government does not have public consent around this issue – and will often try to compartmentalize it as First Nations or rural issue only.  Cook said today’s action was meant to convey a message of solidarity among nations and backgrounds.

HMC: A Week of Civil Disobedience Trainings in Elsipogtog

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/blog/hillary/18294

A Week of Civil Disobedience Trainings in Elsipogtog

By Hillary Bain Lindsay
This week, dozens of people are learning how to use non-violent direct action to resist shale gas exploration in Kent County, NB.  Photo: Hillary Lindsay
This week, dozens of people are learning how to use non-violent direct action to resist shale gas exploration in Kent County, NB. Photo: Hillary Lindsay

Thirty people have been arrested in Kent County, New Brunswick this summer for resisting shale gas exploration in the region.  After a week of civil disobedience trainings, there’s likely to be dozens, if not hundreds more.

On Tuesday, over 50 people (including me) gathered at the Elsipogtog Fisheries Centre in Kent County.  We learned about non-violent direct action, practiced going limp when being arrested, strategized for effective protests, and talked about colonialism and treaty rights.

Participants were of all ages, both Native and non-Native, although the majority appeared to be white.

I asked Eliza Knockwood, a young mother from Abegweit First Nation in PEI, who has family in Elsipogtog and has been involved in the Sacred Fire encampment since early June, what she thought of the mix of people taking part in the trainings.

“We all have a common thread today.  It’s not just about being a black person or a Native person or white person,” said Knockwood.  “Today we are a people that are standing for a unified message.  We are asserting our human rights and our treaty rights…We as a peoples stand firm on Mother Earth to hold our ground, to hold our water sacred.  And each other.”

There was a sense of something significant happening, as Mi’kmaq warriors, Acadian grandmothers, and young people on summer holidays sat down and shared a potluck of bacon, watermelon, cornbread, and couscous.

But of course, it wasn’t that simple.  Barbara Low, a Mi’kmaq woman named the “elephant in the room” on Tuesday afternoon when she brought up the different realities people were bringing to the table.  She spoke about how Native people are criminalized and treated differently by police. She spoke about how the battle against fracking might simply be about the environment for white people, but for First Nations, it is about home, land and colonialism.

It seemed like this was a message that non-Natives present were starting to understand.

Sue Adams is part of anti-fracking organizing in her own community of Antigonish, Nova Scotia.  Resistance to shale gas exploration has not been the primary reason for her visits (this was her third) to Elsipogtog and the Sacred Fire, however.

“My main concern here at this time is First Nation treaty rights,” said Adams.  “The right to free, prior and informed consent.  Some of my friends here feel like that hasn’t been respected.”

Philippe Duhamel travelled from his home in Quebec to facilitate the trainings.  He has been involved in movements for social and environmental justice for decades and arrested more times than he can count.

He believes there’s something special happening around the Sacred Fire in Elsipogtog.

“What’s especially interesting is the coming together of the Maliseet, Mi’kmaq, the Acadians and the Anglophone New Brunswickers,” says Duhamel.   “To stand their ground against the destruction of millions of gallons of water and the fracking of wells, that we know now poison whole communities.”

Duhamel says he’s never seen a community organize so quickly or so effectively.

“I know it’s difficult.  I know we’re riddled with conflict,” he says.  “It’s very hard work.  But I see the promise here of developing a model to work interculturally to build a people’s movement to stop the land grab.”

“People here have a good chance of creating a model victory,” says Duhamel.  “By a model, I really mean something that can be replicated everywhere.  What are the ingredients of [effective] mass civil disobedience?”

Willie Nolan is hoping to find out.  Nolan lives in Kent County and has been working against shale gas in New Brunswick for over four years.  She’s been involved at the Sacred Fire since June 3, and is hoping her community is at a turning point.

“I’m hoping we’ll be able to collaborate and implement strategies that will force the industry to get out of here,” says Nolan.

But to do that, “We need more numbers,” she says.  “We will win, [but] we’ll win quicker the more people who are ready to jump on board and help.”

There is an open, non-violent direct action training at the Elsipogtog Fisheries Training Development Centre on Saturday.  To register, email aboriginalrights.atlantic@gmail.com with “REGISTER” in the subject line. Include your name, contact information, and that you would like to attend Saturday’s training.  



APTN: John Levi, war chief, speaks about anti-fracking protest

SOURCE: http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/07/12/john-levi-war-chief-speaks-to-aptn-about-anti-fracking-protest/

John Levi, war chief, speaks to APTN about anti-fracking protest

National News | 12. Jul, 2013 by | 0 Comments

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

APTN National News

He says he’s a warrior chief defending the land from environmental destruction.

John Levi leads a group from Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick who are fighting against a fracking company looking for shale gas.

The battle may be unwinnable, but Levi isn’t giving up.

APTN’s Ossie Michelin has the story.

HMC: Interview with AFN Regional Chief for NB and PEI, Roger Augustine

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/audio/great-spirit-will-look-after-people-look-after-wat/18226

“The Great Spirit will look after people that look after water.”

Interview with AFN Regional Chief for NB and PEI, Roger Augustine

by Miles Howe

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Roger Augustine visited the sacred fire encampment in Elsipogtog on July 10th, 2103, his 66th birthday. [Photo: M. Howe]
Roger Augustine visited the sacred fire encampment in Elsipogtog on July 10th, 2103, his 66th birthday. [Photo: M. Howe]

ELSIPOGTOG, NEW BRUNSWICK – Yesterday, July 10th, was Roger Augustine’s birthday. Augustine is the Assembly of First Nations’ Regional Chief for New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

As promised on June 30th, Augustine spent the morning of his birthday at the sacred fire encampment in Elsipogtog, which for over a month now has represented the physical rallying point for those opposed to SWN Resource Canada’s attempts at shale gas exploration in New Brunswick.

When I spoke with Roger on June 30th, he didn’t have an opinion on shale gas, or at least not one he was willing to share publicly.

I wondered if the hours he spent at the sacred fire had given Augustine something upon which to make a public stand in regards to shale gas exploration in New Brunswick.

Please enjoy the following interview with AFN Regional Chief for New Brunswick and PEI, Roger Augustine.

IW: Elsipogtog First Nation Shale Gas Protests Update from Halifax Media Co-op Reporter Miles Howe

SOURCE: http://indigenouswaves.com/2013/07/10/elsipogtog-first-nation-shale-gas-protests-update-from-halifax-media-co-op-reporter-miles-howe/

Elsipogtog First Nation Shale Gas Protests Update from Halifax Media Co-op Reporter Miles Howe

Posted by indigenouswavesradio on July 10, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Two weeks ago Indigenous Waves spoke to Warrior Chief John Levi from Elsipogtog First Nation regarding the protests being led by his community against SWN Resources and the shale gas exploration they are engaged in on Mi’kmaq traditional territory. Since then, John Levi has been arrested, and as of Monday July 8th, 2013 was released. Halifax Media Co-op reporter Miles Howe has been covering the story since early June 2013, and was himself arrested for an incident RCMP claim took place two weeks prior to Howe’s arrest. Miles Howe joined Indigenous Waves this past Monday to discuss the events leading up to both his and War Chief John Levi’s arrest, as well as to give some further background to SWN Resource practices, the RCMP offering him cash in exchange for information and the Crown attempt to prevent Warrior Chief John Levi from giving advice to his community.

Miles Howe is a reporter and photographer for Halifax Media Co-op.

Playlist:

Darah – Australian History 101

A Tribe Called Red – Different Heroes f. Northern Voice

A Tribe Called Mi’kmaq – Calling All Warriors

Ode’min Kwe Singers – A.I.M. song

Whitefish Bay Singers – Anishinaabe Round Dance

Originally Aired Monday July 8, 2013

HMC: The problem with Line 5

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/problem-line-5/18217

The problem with Line 5

Aerial surveillance shows SWN’s bush-cut seismic test line slashes through hunting grounds, sensitive areas

by Miles Howe

RCMP routinely block access to SWN Resource Canada's 'Line 5' [Photo: Miles Howe
RCMP routinely block access to SWN Resource Canada’s ‘Line 5’ [Photo: Miles Howe
Terrain in line 5 is relatively pristine, and comprises traditional Mi'kmaq hunting grounds. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Terrain in line 5 is relatively pristine, and comprises traditional Mi’kmaq hunting grounds. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Aerial surveillance notes that SWN has begun to cut a seismic test line through the bush. The coordinates for the northern head of the line are: N 46 41.155 W 65 32.699 [Photo: Miles Howe]
Aerial surveillance notes that SWN has begun to cut a seismic test line through the bush. The coordinates for the northern head of the line are: N 46 41.155 W 65 32.699 [Photo: Miles Howe]

See also:

ELSIPOGTOG – Large caravans of pick up trucks, fuel trucks, security trucks and a variety of other equipment continue to depart from the Moncton Holiday Inn on a daily basis. SWN’s contracted workers, the majority of whom are currently employed by Houston-based company Geokinetics, have been residing at the Holiday Inn for weeks now.

The daily pattern for most workers, as of this week, is a 6:45am visit to the Tim Horton’s counter at the local gas station. They then begin the process of organizing themselves for the 93 kilometer journey north along highway 126 to Rogersville. Some pieces of equipment do exit the highway earlier than Collette road, just north of Rogersville. It is not currently established where they work for the day.

The majority, as of July 10th, now take the Collette road exit. Equipment is usually flanked by security trucks, who, despite the illegality of the action, have been known to block Collette road against any non-SWN associated traffic. The majority of the security force is at the moment employed by Irving-owned Industrial Security Limited.

What happens then is a bit of a mystery. The equipment, which includes at least two ‘shot-hole’ drillers, is supposed to be running a north-south seismic testing line, with the Collette road entrance to the line representing near the northerly extremity of the line.

Due to continuous RCMP assistance in blocking access to the roads, aerial surveillance and walking scouts currently represent amongst the only means of gathering information as to the progress of the seismic line.

Both means of data gathering have painted an as-yet incomplete picture of the work, but scouts along the southern tip of the line report east-west cross roads having been flagged and laid with drilled charges. Whether all these charges have been detonated or not is unknown.

To the north of the line, aerial data gathering has indicated that SWN has moved slightly to the east of the seismic line route they have publicly presented in available maps. Instead, they appear to have begun to carve themselves a north-south clear cut line that begins at coordinates N 46 41.155 W 65 32.699. How far this line goes and where equipment is on this line is currently unknown.

This seismic line cuts squarely through traditional Mi’kmaw hunting grounds, and it is not uncommon to spot moose, deer, bear, fox and porcupines wandering through the terrain. The northern section of the line also appears to have some sizeable wetlands in it, and the line itself is on the Northern tip of the Richibucto River watershed.

The Richibucto watershed, according to a 2008 Ecosystem Overview published by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, is the fourth largest river basin in Eastern New Brunswick.

The watershed is also not particularly well-suited to industrial incursions. The peat moss industry, by no means comparable to the water-intensive process of hydraulic fracturing, has notably caused chemical and heavy metal contamination of the watershed, as well as threats to the ecosystem productivity, threats to aquatic fauna and changes to behaviour in aquatic species.

According to the Shale Gas Information Platform, a typical hydraulically fractured well requires anywhere from 10 to 30 million litres of water per well. The consequences of removing this much water, per well, from the Richibucto watershed – and walking scouts suggest there are scores of potential wells along line 5 alone – are not known.

With only the Atlantic Industrial Services plant in Debert, Nova Scotia, available to potentially ‘treat’ this water, what will happen to all the post-hydraulically fractured water is also not known. The Debert plant has a maximum capacity about equivalent to two fractured wells, and has already been caught dumping over 7 million litres of untreated post-hydraulically fractured water down the municipal sewer system in Windsor, Nova Scotia.

HMC: John Levi Free after weekend in prison

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/john-levi-free-after-weekend-prison/18210

John Levi Free after weekend in prison

Crown stumbles in attempt to incarcerate Elsipogtog war chief, asks that he give no advice to community.

by Miles Howe

Levi and his soon-to-be wife share a hug upon his release. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Levi and his soon-to-be wife share a hug upon his release. [Photo: Miles Howe]

See also:

MONCTON, NEW BRUNSWICK – It was standing room only today in courtroom 2 of the Moncton provincial courthouse, as supporters of Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi came to show solidarity with one of the key voices against SWN Resouces Canada’s attempts to explore for shale gas in Kent County, New Brunswick.

Levi, who had been imprisoned since Friday, July 5th – on charges of mischief and obstructing justice related to events of June 21st – appeared today for a bail hearing, and it was clear from the outset that the Crown would be arguing against Levi’s release.

Levi’s charges had also breached the conditions of a May 30th, 2012, conditional sentence, related to an altercation with Department of Fisheries officers, where it is alleged that one officer hit Levi’s son with a paddle.

Crown prosecutor Roy – from the outset ill-prepared in forgetting to share her documentation with defense lawyer T.J. Burke – argued against Levi’s release, based on the Crown’s estimation that Levi was likely to re-offend, as well as that his detention was necessary to maintain confidence in the justice of the Crown.

Roy’s first witness was a Constable Berube, who testified that Levi had “a history of violence against police officers and officers of the law.” Berube – apparently – based this determination upon the altercation with fisheries officers, a June 4th, 2013, seizure of a Stantec truck in Elsipogtog, as well as the alleged charges related to June 21st.

Burke was quick to reduce Berube’s testimony to little more than ill-formed conjecture. Berube had not been present at the altercation between Levi and the fisheries officers; no charges had ever been laid related to the June 4th truck seizure; nor was there any damage to people or property; nor was there any proof that Levi had even driven the seized truck. As for the charges related to June 21st; they are currently nothing more than allegations.

Roy’s second witness, Troy Sock, was Levi’s probation officer. It is unclear why Roy called Sock to the stand as a Crown witness, because the probation officer was quick to endorse Levi’s character as an “ideal client” who was “timely and showed up to every meeting”.

Sock noted that for the past 13 months Levi had met every one of fifteen conditions laid out for him in his conditional arrest, including several calls daily to Sock during an initial 6 months of house arrest.

T.J. Burke’s only witness to the stand was John Levi. Those in attendance learned that Levi had been sober for over 5 years, was readying himself for his duties as a Sun Dance leader, and was slated to be married to his partner of over 27 years – and the mother of their three children – in late July.

Roy’s cross-examination of Levi appeared to be based more in a curiosity for a traditional way of life than any possibility of proving that the War Chief was likely to re-offend. At one point Roy asked Levi: “What is a smudge?”

Roy also appeared interested in trying to bait Levi in strange, philosophically-based questions related to his opinions on protesting. She asked several times whether Levi though that protesting was “an absolute right.”

For the record, Freedom of Assembly is embedded in Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights of Freedoms.

Recognizing that the Crown’s case to keep Levi incarcerated was beat, Roy then appeared to turn to the fantastic in what must be interpreted as a Hail-Mary attempt to keep the War Chief muzzled.

In asking for conditions to be applied to Levi upon his release – in what may well be a first in any Canadian court of law at any level – Roy asked that Levi “not be allowed to provide advice to any member of the community.” This request provoked guffaws and chortles of laughter from the packed courthouse.

At this point both Burke and the judge agreed that this would be in effect removing Levi’s constitutional right. No one, Crown included, seemed to know exactly how they would in fact ensure that this condition was met.

Finally, it was agreed that Levi would be released immediately, with no bail. His conditions are to keep the peace and be on good behaviour, and not be within 100 meters of SWN Resources Canada’s equipment.

Upon release, Levi was met by a cheering crowd of about 60 people.

CPT: Warrior Chief John Levi released from custody

Source: Christian Peacemaker Teamshttp://www.cpt.org/cptnet/2013/07/08/aboriginal-justice-warrior-chief-john-levi-released-custody

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Warrior Chief John Levi released from custody

July 8th, 2013

CPTnet
8 July 2013
ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Warrior Chief John Levi released from custody

John Levi
Chief John Levi (photo by Greg Cook SJ)

Warrior Chief John Levi is free on his own recognizance.  After a hearing held on the Crown’s request to have him remain incarcerated, the presiding Judge ordered his immediate release with the stipulation that he remain 100 meters away from SWN corporation equipment or any of its subcontractors’ machinery and equipment.

Many native and non-native people packed the courtroom to show their support; court officials permitted people to stand in the back as the seats filled up.  When Levi’s case was called, and as he entered the courtroom, people stood in unison.  His supporters had also done so on Friday, 5 July, at the initial hearing.  A different judge heard the matter today, and he ordered spectators to remain seated, saying he would clear the courtroom if they did not follow proper court decorum.

The Crown prosecutor attempted to show that should the court release Levi, a substantial likelihood of future criminal conduct existed and that detention was necessary to maintain “confidence and administering justice.”  The Crown’s own witness, Levi’s supervising probation officer, testified to the contrary.

The judge emphasized in his decision that Levi’s probation officer called him an “ideal client,”  noting, “we don’t hear that very often.”  Levi was subject to fifteen conditions when convicted for a 2011 violation when he was trying to exercise his treaty fishing rights.  He received an eighteen-month conditional discharge sentence. Levi has met fourteen of the fifteen conditions  and completed thirteen months of the eighteen month sentence, with “no problems.”

As for the condition that the Crown alleges Levi has breached (to keep peace and be of good behavior), the judge noted that Levi has not been convicted of any wrongdoing and the testifying RCMP officer had no first-hand knowledge of the facts leading to the arrest.  The Crown had called the ‘duty officer’ and not the arresting officer, which apparently, is standard.  Levi’s probation officer also testified that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) called him Thursday, 4 July advising him that they were filing charges and asked “what he needed from them” to “lay a breach” petition.

As for the charges of mischief and obstruction, the Crown is clearly attempting to criminalize and penalize Levi’s supposed standing in the community.  The Crown alleges that Levi incited and encouraged people to be arrested on 21 June (those arrests form the basis for the obstruction charge).  The Crown attorney noted that Levi bears the title “Warrior Chief,” that people stood up in court today to support him when he walked in and that the courtroom was packed with supporters, which means people look to him to guide their actions.  The Crown even asked that the judge order Levi not give advice to anyone in the community.  The judge was not amused with this request.

The Crown’s entire presentation demonstrated a fundamental lack of awareness and knowledge pertaining to traditional Mi’kmaq practices, especially as it relates to the title “Warrior Chief,” the nature of leadership within the community, the ceremonial practice of smudging, and the forthcoming Sundance ceremony.

The next hearing will occur on 31 July at 9:30 a.m.

APTN: (video) Reporter arrested by RCMP alleges he turned down offer to become paid informant

SOURCE: http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/07/05/reporter-arrested-by-rcmp-alleges-he-turned-down-offer-to-become-paid-informant/

Reporter arrested by RCMP alleges he turned down offer to become paid informant

National News | 05. Jul, 2013 by | 1 Comment

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
An independent reporter charged Thursday by the RCMP in New Brunswick allegedly rejected the force’s offer to become a paid informant.

Miles Howe, a reporter with the Halifax Media co-op, was released late Thursday afternoon from the Codiac RCMP detachment after he was arrested on Salmon River Rd. where RCMP officers were restricting access to an area under shale gas exploration.

Howe faces charges of uttering threats and obstructing justice stemming from an incident that occurred June 21 during an anti-shale gas protest near Elsipogtog, a Mi’kmaq community in northern New Brunswick.

Howe, however, said he was approached by the RCMP on June 30 to become a paid informant and pass information to the police on the people he had been reporting on for weeks.

Howe said they told him “we could compensate you financially,” but they didn’t present a specific dollar figure.

“The funny thing about this situation is that one week ago they were offering me money to inform for them and now they are charging me with an incident that allegedly occurred two weeks ago,” said Howe.

RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Chantal Farrah said in an email the RCMP couldn’t talk about informants and referenced a Supreme Court ruling.

“Given the broad scope of informer privilege I would have no knowledge of any informant relationship, in this case or any others, nor would the RCMP be able to comment on such a topic,” said Farrah. “The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the importance of protecting this police officer/informant relationship.”

Howe believes that his charges are part of an attempt by the RCMP to get at Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi.

Levi has been charged with obstructing a peace officer. He was charged the same day Howe was arrested. Levi was informed he was being charged at 2 p.m. Thursday during a meeting with his probation officer.

Howe was arrested at 12:34 p.m.

The charges against both men are linked to a protest that occurred on June 21 along Hwy. 126.

The RCMP allege that Levi helped Howe evade arrest during the heated protest.

The RCMP also allege that Levi told protesters to “stand their ground,” according to Levi’s information sheet.

Sgt. Richard Bernard, who arrested Howe Thursday, is the main source of the allegations.

“On the side of the roadway, a man yelled, ‘Bernard you’re going to pay for this,” the information sheet alleges. “Sgt. Bernard looked over and saw a slim built man, with a black ball cap that had the word ‘dad’ on it.”

The information sheet alleges that Bernard tried to arrest the man, but he escaped his grasp and eventually fled in Levi’s truck.

None of these allegations have been proven in court.

“To me the fact Levi was charged (Thursday), an hour and a half after I was charged, suggests an intent to remove a capable man (Levi) from his appointed duties, rather than a desire to uphold the law,” said Howe.

Levi is being held in custody over the weekend for allegedly breaking his probation. He has a scheduled court date Monday.

jbarrera@aptn.ca

@JorgeBarrera

CBC: Aboriginal anti-shale gas advocate released from jail

SOURCE: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2013/07/08/nb-levi-elsipogtog-shale-protest.html

Aboriginal anti-shale gas advocate released from jail

John Levi, of the Elsipogtog First Nation, pleaded not guilty to obstructing police, mischief

CBC News

Posted: Jul 8, 2013 1:07 PM AT

Last Updated: Jul 8, 2013 2:32 PM AT

An Elsipogtog First Nations warrior chief facing charges in connection with ongoing anti-shale gas protests in Kent County has been released from jail on conditions.

John Levi, 45, pleaded not guilty on Monday to obstructing police and mischief in relation to a June 21 demonstration on Highway 126, where SWN Resources is conducting seismic testing.

John Levi, of Elsipogtog First Nation, is charged with obstructing police and mischief, but his supporters say he's helping to keep the peace.John Levi, of Elsipogtog First Nation, is charged with obstructing police and mischief, but his supporters say he’s helping to keep the peace. (CBC)Levi, who had been in custody since Friday, appeared in Moncton provincial court for a bail hearing, represented by lawyer T.J. Burke.

The courtroom was overflowing with family, friends and supporters, many of whom wore anti-shale gas T-shirts and pins.

Before court proceedings began, Judge Irwin Lampert told the crowd to maintain decorum. Otherwise, he said, he would not hesitate to clear the courtroom.

At one point, a man stood up and spoke in support of Levi. Lampert got sheriffs to escort the man out.

The Crown argued Levi should not be released, saying the charges Levi faces breach a conditional sentence he’s under for a different matter.

He also questioned Levi’s role as a warrior chief.

Leads peaceful protests

John Levi's supporters celebrated his release outside the Moncton courthouse on Monday.John Levi’s supporters celebrated his release outside the Moncton courthouse on Monday. (Jennifer Choi/CBC)Levi, who took the stand in his own defence, said as the warrior chief he is to lead peaceful protests and traditional ceremonies.

His lawyer also noted the Crown’s own witness, Levi’s probation officer Troy Sock, testified that Levi is an ideal client, that he doesn’t believe Levi will commit any offences if released and that he’s not a threat to the community.

The judge agreed to release Levi, provided he keep the peace and be of good behaviour, stay 100 metres away from SWN and subcontracted equipment and employees, and give authorities 48 hours notice if he changes his name, address or job.

Levi is scheduled to return to court on July 31 at 9:30 a.m.

Several supporters joined hands outside the courtroom to celebrate Levi’s release.

Some people have credited Levi with helping to keep the peace in the eastern First Nations community.

RCMP have warned the situation in Kent County is getting dangerous after weeks of problems, including property damage and protesters being arrested.

SWN Resources is conducting seismic testing in the area to determine if developing a shale gas industry in the province is viable.

Opponents are concerned the hydro-fracking process used to extract natural gas will ruin the water supply and damage the surrounding environment.

HMC: Recapping a month of resistance to SWN in Elsipogtog

[documentary] Resistance To Shale Gas At Elsipgtog: An Oveview

A radio documentary aired July 1 which summarizes the resistance to SWN from the Sacred Fire at Elsipogtog.  Interviews with many individuals.  Produced by Asaf Rashid and Pierre Loiselle for From the Margins (CKDU FM, Halifax).

http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/audio/recapping-month-resistance-swn-elsipogtog/18177

HMC: Elsipogtog Warrior Chief John Levi jailed until Monday

SOURCE: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/elsipogtog-war-chief-john-levi-jailed-until-monday/18184

Elsipogtog Warrior Chief John Levi jailed until Monday

Charges related to June 21st protest, breach of probation related to attempt to assert Treaty fishing rights

by Miles Howe

Sock and supporters of John Levi in front of Moncton Courthouse. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Sock and supporters of John Levi in front of Moncton Courthouse. [Photo: Miles Howe]

See also:

MONCTON, NEW BRUNSWICK – Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi was today sent to jail until Monday morning at 9:30am, which, according to the presiding judge, was the “earliest convenient time” to set bail.

Levi stands accused of two charges, both related to an anti-shale gas action that took place on June 21st. The first, mischief, is most likely related to the actions of four people, three of whom went out onto highway 126 into the path of SWN Resources Canada’s seismic testing trucks. These four people were arrested – along with eight others on that day – and Levi stands accused of telling protesters to “stand their ground”.

It was three later arrests that broke through an RCMP line and attempted to halt the moving trucks. One woman was also arrested and subsequently punched in the mouth by RCMP, as she attempted to get to her partner, who had thrown himself under the bumper of a moving truck.

Levi also stands accused of obstructing justice, which, actually, is allegedly related to him and I leaving highway 126 together in his truck on June 21st. For that day, I stand accused of ‘threatening’ an RCMP officer. Yesterday, when I was first charged at RCMP ‘Codiac’ station in Moncton, I was also charged with ‘resisting arrest’. This was later changed to ‘evading arrest’ and then subsequently to ‘obstruction of justice’ for alllegedly walking away from the officer that I allegedly threatened, who then allegedly arrested me.

That I was not charged with anything until yesterday, July 4th, suggests that officer Richard Bernard, who allegedly did the arresting, kept the matter of my charges – and subsequently at least one of John Levi’s charges – totally to himself.

There have been ample opportunities to charge me – and Levi – with whatever the RCMP might have liked. Why they chose not to do so, and then arrest us two weeks later, must remain in the realm of conjecture for the moment.

For example:

On June 22nd I was pulled over and my licence was run by the RCMP. There was no charge against me.

On June 24th I was highly visible at an anti-shale gas action in Browns Yard, New Brunswick. No officer approached me to inform me of my arrest.

On June 30th, I gave two RCMP officers a statement in relation to a fire to which I was the first  responder. Not only was there no charge at this time, but these RCMP officers then offered me “financial compensation” if I would alert them to information related to the fire or any plans I might hear of that might endanger people or equipment.

This does raise the question:

If no one in the RCMP, save perhaps officer Rick Bernard, knew that I was charged with anything, then how could John Levi have possibly known that he was obstructing justice by having me in his truck when we drove away from the site of the 12 arrests on June 21st?

Levi, for his part, has also suffered numerous threats from the RCMP since June 21st.

“He’s received a lot of phone calls and texts from RCMP, demanding and even threatening him.” said Amy Sock, one of the encampment’s spokespeople, outside of the Moncton courthouse.

“[The RCMP have been saying] they want to see him today, and if not today then they’re going to catch him one day.”

It is also important to note that Levi was never charged with anything until I was charged yesterday. I was arrested at 12:34pm; Levi’s parole officer was served with a notice to appear at approximately 2pm.

Levi is currently on parole for attempting to exercise Treaty fishing rights.

It is also important to note that both my arrest and Levi’s arrest just so happen to have occured yesterday, July 4th. This is the first day that SWN Resources Canada has worked in over a week.

In court this morning, Norma Augustine, Levi’s aunt, attempted to plead with the judge to overturn the decision to imprison her nephew until Monday. The presiding judge stood up while Augustine – an Elder in the Elsipogtog community – was in mid-sentence, and walked away. Many in the nearly packed courtroom turned their backs on the judge as he exited.

“Just because he’s in jail does not mean that this fight will be over. In fact it means more support. More people will be here,” said Sock. “Look at all these people that came here and left at 8 o’clock this morning for John Levi. Because we believe in him and we believe in what he’s doing.”

SWN work update

Unconfirmed sources say that SWN Resource Canada has halted work for the day on ‘Line 5′, the back woods seismic line west of highway 126. The work stoppage is apparently related to a threat for workers’ safety.

APTN: RCMP arrest reporter, charge warrior chief at ongoing anti-fracking protest in New Brunswick

Source: http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/07/04/rcmp-arrest-reporter-war-chief-at-ongoing-anti-fracking-protest-in-new-brunswick/

RCMP arrest reporter, war chief at ongoing anti-fracking protest in New Brunswick

National News | 04. Jul, 2013 by | 0 Comments

RCMP arrest reporter, war chief at ongoing anti-fracking protest in New Brunswick

(Media Co-op reporter is shown being arrested by the RCMP Thursday for allegedly uttering death threats against a senior RCMP officer. Photo by Jorge Barrera/APTN.)

By Jorge Barrera and Kenneth Jackson
APTN National News
Tensions flared again in New Brunswick where anti-fracking protestors have been holding camp when a reporter was arrested and a war chief charged for allegedly obstructing police in connection.

Police arrested reporter Miles Howe Thursday afternoon after walking up to him and shaking his hand. They then told him he was under arrest for allegedly making death threats against an RCMP officer.

War Chief John Levi was charged with obstruction in connection to Howe’s arrest.

Howe, who works for Media Co-op, an independent media organization, has been covering the ongoing protests since the middle of last month when they began.

During that time the RCMP have arrested dozens of protestors who are trying to stop seismic testing related to shale gas exploration in New Brunswick near the Elispogtog First Nation.

“Miles was arrested while I waited with him to get permission to go see exploration site,” APTN reporter Jorge Barrera tweeted and is on the scene. “Miles was arrested for allegedly ‘uttering death threats’ against senior RCMP officer who made the arrest after shaking Miles’ hand.”

Barrera said police took Howe’s phone and camera.

In a story posted to their website the Halifax bureau of Media Co-op accused the RCMP of a “blantant effort to silence” Howe’s reporting on the frontlines.

“His arrest is a clear effort to silence grassroots voices,” the story said.

A group of about 50 people from Elsiopogtog travelled to the site of Howe’s arrest Thursday afternoon and picked berries on the side of the road to “assert our sovereignty.”

The group also danced and drummed while waving the Mi’kmaq flag in front of RCMP trucks blocking a road leading to where exploration continues for shale gas.

Howe is being held at the Codiac detachment near Moncton.

No RCMP officers on the scene would comment.

jbarrera@aptn.ca

HMC: RCMP arrest Media Co-op Journalist in New Brunswick

Source: http://www.mediacoop.ca/newsrelease/18174

RCMP arrest Media Co-op Journalist in New Brunswick

Arrest a blatant attempt to silence grassroots voices

by The Media Co-op

Miles Howe arrest. Photo by Jorge Barrera.
Miles Howe arrest. Photo by Jorge Barrera.

In a blantant effort to silence his ongoing coverage of the struggle against seismic testing related to shale gas exploration in New Brunswick, a senior RCMP officer arrested Halifax Media Co-op reporter Miles Howe this afternoon.

“Miles was arrested while I waited with him to get permission to go see exploration site,” tweeted APTN reporter Jorge Barrera, who was standing beside Miles when he was arrested. “Miles was arrested for allegedly ‘uttering death threats’ against senior RCMP officer who made the arrest after shaking Miles’ hand.”

Miles has been covering the anti-fracking story from the front lines for weeks, posting his reports on the Halifax Media Co-op.

According to Barrera, the cops took Miles’ phone and camera as evidence against him. “Reporting on #Elsipogtog anti-fracking protest just got more complicated,” tweeted Barrera. “The RCMP has also been trying to recruit informants, offering cash.”

We do not yet know where Miles will be taken by police. His arrest is a clear effort to silence grassroots voices.

Miles is the 30th person to be arrested at the site. Please click here to read his most recent story, which calls for support at the sacred fire and blockade tomorrow, when seismic testing is said to be resuming.

UPDATE (14:45 Atlantic time): From Jorge Barrera: “War Chief John Levi charged with obstruction today in connection with @MilesHowe arrest.” Levi’s court date is Friday, no further information on what’s happening with Miles, we do know that as of 13:45 eastern he was being held on the site in a police vehicle.

UPDATE (16:26 Atlantic time): APTN reports that Miles Howe is being held at the Codiac police detachment near Moncton.

Halifax Media Co-op editor Ben Sichel contacted the RCMP in Fredericton and was told by Bert Hudon of the professional standards department that Miles Howe would not be released. “If he did that, why should we release him?” Hudon asked Sichel. “There must have been a reason for his arrest.”

UPDATE (18:06 Atlantic time): An unconfirmed report has stated that Miles Howe has been released from custody. It is not known whether bail was posted. The same source states that the charge against Howe is “uttering threats against a police officer” and not “uttering death threats.”

UPDATE (19:09 Atlantic time): CBC is reporting that Howe’s arrest was related to an incident that took place on June 21st. The Media Co-op is awaiting a statement from the RCMP as to why his arrest took place today. The CBC article states that Howe is still in custody, but 3 other sources including Jorge Barrera of the APTN have stated that he has been released.

UPDATE (20:40 Atlantic time): We have confirmed that Miles Howe has been released from police custody with no conditions, and his possessions have been returned to him, including a camera and cell phone. He has been charged with threats as well as obstruction of justice.

HMC: [ALERT] SWN set to resume seismic testing tomorrow

Source: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/swn-set-resume-seismic-testing-tomorrow/18171

SWN set to resume seismic testing tomorrow

Efforts apparently will focus on ‘Line 5’, clearcut road west of Rogersville.

by Miles Howe

Despite promises for a joint statement from AFN chief Atleo and Elsipogtog First Nation, none has been forthcoming. Instead, seismic testing is set to resume Thursday, July 4th. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Despite promises for a joint statement from AFN chief Atleo and Elsipogtog First Nation, none has been forthcoming. Instead, seismic testing is set to resume Thursday, July 4th. [Photo: Miles Howe]

ELSIPOGTOG, NEW BRUNSWICK – Off record sources close to talks currently ongoing between the AFN and SWN Resources Canada confirm that the Texas-based company is tomorrow set to resume seismic testing in Kent County, New Brunswick.

The source confirms that SWN will focus its efforts on ‘Line 5’, a seismic line west of highway 126, where earlier attempts to stop seismic testing trucks, or ‘thumpers’, resulted in over 30 arrests.

Line 5, 35.9 kilometres in length, is decidedly different terrain, being mostly a clearcut line through sparsely populated bush. It is doubtful that SWN’s thumpers, more suited to paved roads, will be able to navigate the clearcut road.

Instead, it is likely that the company will use shot-hole drillers, which gather seismic data by drilling holes 10-15 metres into the earth and then setting off detonations, to conduct their testing.

Despite the talks between the AFN, ostensibly the representatives of the First Nations peoples of the area, and SWN, leadership at the sacred fire encampment is resolute in its stance against shale gas exploration.

“What we’ve decided is that we’re going to move in and try to put a stop to it again tomorrow,” says John Levi, Elsipogtog war chief. “I’m just hoping [the AFN] listens to somebody. We’ve been crying here, hoping that they hear our cries, before they start poisoning our waters.”

Levi encourages supporters to stay abreast of calls for support by checking in on Shale Gas Alerts New Brunswick, a facebook group, or to simply head to the sacred fire encampment early tomorrow morning (July 4th).