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  October 18, 2013

Canadian Police Use Military Tactics to Disperse Indigenous Anti-Fracking Blockade

New Brunswick Mounted Police deploy rubber bullets and tear gas, arrest 40 protesters for blockading highway.
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OSCAR LEÓN, TRNN PRODUCER: Thursday, October 17, 2013, in New Brunswick, Canada, indigenous protesters refused to comply a judge injunction ordering them to surrender the siege of SWN equipment store.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police moved in, fully armed, 200 men strong, arresting many elders. Pictures of agents in camouflage with automatic assault weapons and dogs flowed trough Twitter and other social media websites.

SWN Resources Canada is a Houston-based energy company working on shale gas extraction using fracking, a system that injects water and chemicals to the ground to harvest gas.

Scientists and activists warn that such procedure can contaminate the ground and the water supply. The company had been conducting seismic testings with the trucks detained inside the compound by the activists.

Miles Howe, a reporter for the Media Co-op, was among those arrested. He published:

"We are currently surrounded by about 75 cops, all guns drawn. Several are in military fatigues. Rubber bullets have been fired in the woods. Molotovs were thrown earlier from warrior side. Currently still in standoff."

The Globe and Mail reported that after the protesters refused to disperse, the police used tear gas and rubber bullets. RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) reported 40 arrests. This is a statement in the RCMP website:

"The New Brunswick RCMP has arrested at least 40 people for various offences including firearms offences, uttering threats, intimidation, mischief, and for refusing to abide by a court injunction on Route 134. . . ."

The Real News spoke to Pamela Ross, one of the activists that had been in the blockade.

PAMELA ROSS, PROTESTER, NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA: This has been a peaceful protest all along, and people have been misled on what the whole warrior society and what warriors, First Nations warriors are in the first place. You know, they're protectors of the people. So that's why the warriors were the first people arrested, because they are willing to put themselves out in front of everybody else.

Everyone's protesting because the government of New Brunswick, originally the Liberal government of New Brunswick, introduced shale gas fracking to New Brunswick. And people were totally against it. And then an election came around, and the Conservative government was very critical and criticizing the Liberal government, you know, about the shale gas, and a lot of people voted for them because they thought that the Conservative government was against it. But the Conservative government has turned around, and they seem to be all for it as well.

LEÓN: A live shot was reported, but neither side took responsibility for it. Five police cruisers were set on fire after the initial raid. Images like this one published in News World YouTube channel circled around the internet and TV newscasts. While it is presumed that Mi'kmaq people did it, until now no evidence has surfaced onto who set the cars on fire.

This is a video of the aftermath of the arrest published by Chris Sabas, an independent reporter working in Toronto with Christian Peacemaker Teams. She had been following the story.

The siege that started on Sunday, September 29, 2013, after months of active nonviolent direct action by native Acadian [incompr.] communities, and after years of campaign against shale gas, protesters draw the line.

Worth mentioning is Submedia's TV coverage of the blockade. This is part of one of their special reports from the side of the blockade.

UNIDENTIFIED: We have Mi'kmaq, we have Acadians, we have English. So we all came together. That's why we became a unity camp. Before, we were like this, we weren't getting along, until when they started messing our water. Then we became this.

LEÓN: This is a video by Chris Saban of Chief Aaron Sock entering the blockade.

Elsipogtog Chief Aaron Sock and several council members were among those arrested on October 17. This marked the end of a blockade maintained for more than two weeks. But it does not end the resisting of the indigenous people and the activists and citizens.

After the arrest, demonstrations of people protesting in solidarity were reported by mainstream media as well as social networks. Ontario Provincial Police reported that 30 to 40 First Nation protesters [inaud.] and shut down Highway 6 in southern Ontario between the communities of Hagersville and Caledonia.

Just one day before, speaking on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II,--

DAVID JOHNSTON, GOV. GEN. OF CANADA: I bear the happy wishes and deep affection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada.

LEÓN: --Governor General David Johnston, in the annual Speech from the Throne in Parliament Hill, Ottawa, pointed at the immense importance raw natural resources have for the Crown and the Commonwealth.

JOHNSTON: Since Canada's earliest days, our economy has been built on our abundant natural resources. Directly and indirectly, the natural resource sector employs 1.8 million Canadians, many in skilled, high-paying jobs. Resource development generates $30 billion annually in revenue that supports health care, education, and programs Canadians cherish. Canada's energy reserves are vast, sufficient to fuel our growing economy and supply international customers for generations to come.

LEÓN: The Canadian indigenous fight to preserve its resources from industrial exploitation has many similar characteristic compared to those of the South American indigenous. In Colombia, Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador, they all advocate for the necessity to balance civilization's growth and the well-being and preservation of our planet and its biosphere.

For The Real News, this is Oscar León.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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