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).

MG: No end seen for New Brunswick gas protests

SOURCE: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/sight+protests+against+shale+exploration+Brunswick/8599256/story.html

No end in sight for protests against shale gas exploration in New Brunswick

By The Canadian Press June 30, 2013 6:05 AM

FREDERICTON – The New Brunswick government is pitching the development of a shale gas industry in the province as a potential economic boom and job creator, but opponents are strengthening their resolve to block the idea, right at the exploration stage.

Since early June, there have been protests while SWN Resources conducts the latest series of seismic testing near Elsipogtog, north of Moncton.

Chief Arren Sock of the Elsipogtog First Nation is calling for an immediate moratorium on shale gas exploration in the province and says his people have an obligation to protect the land and water.

“Most New Brunswickers wouldn’t understand the Mi’kmaq culture and they wouldn’t understand the connectiveness of the Mi’kmaq people with the land,” he said. “If they did, they would understand why we are so adamant against shale gas.”

Opponents say the gas wells threaten water supplies, something the industry denies.

The RCMP say there have been 33 arrests since early June as a result of people blocking roads and vehicles. Police are also investigating a number of cases of vandalism.

There are about 10 companies licensed to explore for shale gas in the province but SWN Resources is the only one doing seismic testing right now.

Sock said the government ignored First Nations people when it allowed work to begin.

“The province of New Brunswick entered into exploration licenses without proper duty to consult our people on our territory,” he said.

David Coon, leader of New Brunswick’s Green party, said First Nations in the Maritimes have never ceded territory, so governments have a unique responsibility to consult.

“The treaties are peace and friendship treaties and we are all signatories in a sense to those treaties, and they need to be honoured,” he said.

Coon said Premier David Alward has to get personally involved by visiting the community and taking action.

“He’s got to pull the plug on the licences for exploration … it’s the only honourable way out for him.”

A spokesman for the premier said he was not available to comment Friday, while officials with SWN Resources could not be reached for comment.

Tom Bateman, a political scientist at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, said the provincial government set the stage for opposition by announcing prospects for the industry before ensuring regulations to protect the public and the environment were in place.

“This afforded the anti-shale gas people the chance to step out in front and frame the issue and define the politics of the shale gas development potential in the province,” he said.

A report released in early June said each gas well in New Brunswick would generate about $13 million in economic spinoffs. The report by Deloitte also estimated that each well would create about 21 jobs.

But Bateman said the economic benefits of the industry will only become attractive when the public is assured that the environmental questions have been answered.

In February, the government announced 97 new rules to govern oil and gas industry practices. Under the regulations, exploratory wells will be required to have a double casing to protect surrounding groundwater.

Open pits for wastewater will not be allowed, and oil and gas companies would have to buy $10 million in liability insurance to cover personal injury or damage to property or the environment.

Still, there is a growing number of people — native and non-native — setting up camp along Highway 116 near Elsipogtog to oppose the exploration. People in a camp set up by protesters weren’t willing to comment on Thursday.

Wendall Nicholas of Tobique has been assigned as a peacekeeper and will serve as the point man between police, protesters and the community in an effort to keep people safe during the protests.