Photojournalist Amber Bracken and The Narwhal have filed a lawsuit against the RCMP after officers arrested and detained Bracken while she was covering the protests against the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
Bracken was on assignment for The Narwhal in late 2021, documenting the enforcement of an injunction in Wet’suwet’en territory that made national headlines.
In a statement from the Canadian Association of Journalists, the lawsuit was made on claims that Mounties violated The Narwhal’s and journalists’ charter rights, saying she was wrongfully arrested and detained.
“Amber Bracken’s arrest and lengthy detention by the RCMP not only defied logic, but we believe it broke the law,” said Emma Gilchrist, editor-in-chief and co-founder of The Narwhal.
According to the lawsuit’s notice of claim, Bracken was working in a tiny house when RCMP officers used an axe and chainsaw to break through the door. She and six others were arrested at gunpoint.
“Police put me in handcuffs when I should have been doing my job,” Bracken said. “I wanted to be doing my job.”
The Narwhal apparently told RCMP that Bracken was reporting in the area a day before she was arrested.
“Bracken informed the arresting officers she was a journalist, carried her letter of assignment from The Narwhal, and had affixed ‘media’ badges to her equipment bags,” the CAJ statement reads.
Bracken was charged with contempt for violating the terms of an injunction granted to the company building the pipeline. She was detained for three days before being released on bail. Charges were later dropped against her.