Ontario police move in to remove protestors from railway blockade

Feb 24 2020, 5:08 pm

On Monday morning, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) moved in on a Mohawk blockade adjacent to a railway in Tyendinaga outside Belleville to clear the solidarity protestors who are supporting the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in British Columbia.

The Mohawks of Tyendinaga and other supporters set up a barricade on February 6 next to the rail tracks in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to stop construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in BC. The blockade resulted in the shutdown of a major rail corridor for the last two and a half weeks.

On February 7, an injunction was filed against the protestors for blocking the railway, resulting in the OPP going into the territory Monday morning to remove the protestors.

“Unfortunately, all avenues to successfully negotiate a peaceful resolution have been exhausted and a valid court injunction remains in effect,” the OPP said. “The OPP has a legal responsibility to enforce the injunction and began doing so this morning. The OPP has called upon all those involved to abide by the injunction and leave the area and to not put public peace or anyone’s safety in jeopardy. All people are being encouraged to leave the demonstration site peacefully. Enforcement of the injunction may include arrest of those who choose not to comply, however, use of force remains a last resort.”

Since the blockade began, the OPP said they have been meeting regularly and communicating with various representatives of the people protesting in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en.

“Following its court-endorsed Framework for Police Preparedness for Indigenous Critical Incidents, the OPP Provincial Liaison Team has engaged in significant collaborative and respectful dialogue aimed at bringing about a peaceful resolution while ensuring everyone’s safety and preserving their respective rights guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” the OPP statement said. “To date, there had been no arrests made and no one has been injured.”

Earlier on Monday morning, a statement was released from the Mohawk community in Tyendinaga, asking that the OPP refrain from the use of force and allow for a peaceful resolution.

The Mohawks of Tyendinaga said they are not in violation of the injunction as there is no trespassing on CN’s railway in this specific region as the land is Tyendinaga Territory proclaimed by the Simcoe Deed of 1793. There has also been no physical interference or obstruction of the railway tracks.

According to the statement, they are in talks with Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services and the OPP Liaison to resolve the matter.

“We want to remind the public that we have never physically obstructed the tracks and we have been in peaceful solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en,” the statement said.

For the Mohawk people, the pending issues are that the RCMP have not left the Wet’suwet’en Territory, there has not been a follow-up meeting with Miller as agreed upon, and if force were to be used, families safety would be at risk.

On February 21, the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs met with the Mohawk People of Tyendinaga to discuss the RCMP and Coastal GasLink entering their lands in BC.

A statement from the meeting disclosed that the RCMP had not withdrawn from the Wet’suwet’en territory as they had announced but actually “increased harassment, made illegal arrests, increased surveillance, and monitoring of Wet’suwet’en people and their invited guests.”

The protest is currently ongoing in Tyendinaga with no known resolution between the OPP and Mohawk people to date.

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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