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Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

A breakfast rally in Victoria calls for halt to C-IRG

The RCMP’s industry and resource task force is currently under review and faces multiple lawsuits

By Michael John Lo
March 30, 2023
Policing
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

A breakfast rally in Victoria calls for halt to C-IRG

The RCMP’s industry and resource task force is currently under review and faces multiple lawsuits

By Michael John Lo
Mar 30, 2023
Rally attendees crowd the pavement in front of the Government Street offices for the Ministry of Public Safety, waiting their turn at breakfast. Photo: Michael John Lo / Capital Daily
Rally attendees crowd the pavement in front of the Government Street offices for the Ministry of Public Safety, waiting their turn at breakfast. Photo: Michael John Lo / Capital Daily
Policing
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

A breakfast rally in Victoria calls for halt to C-IRG

The RCMP’s industry and resource task force is currently under review and faces multiple lawsuits

By Michael John Lo
March 30, 2023
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A breakfast rally in Victoria calls for halt to C-IRG
Rally attendees crowd the pavement in front of the Government Street offices for the Ministry of Public Safety, waiting their turn at breakfast. Photo: Michael John Lo / Capital Daily

About 100 people gathered Thursday morning in front of the offices of the Ministry of Public Safety for freshly cooked breakfast.

The event, put on by national coalition, Abolish C-IRG, and local partners, was calling for the suspension of an RCMP unit that polices opposition to resource-based projects on Vancouver Island and elsewhere in BC.

RCMP’s “E” Decision Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) has faced criticism from rights groups and activists for its collaboration with the extraction industry, alleged physical violence and violations of civil rights, as well as its treatment of the media during its operations. This month, the federal government body’s independent reviewer of RCMP announced that it will launch an official investigation into C-IRG activities, as reported by Capital Daily. The unit is facing several lawsuits regarding its conduct.

Abolish C-IRG is a coalition of nonprofits, researchers, lawyers, and communities impacted by C-IRG policing who are asking for the suspension of all C-IRG deployments until the review is complete.

The day before the protest breakfast, members of a C-IRG unit out of Houston, BC raided the Gidimt’en checkpoint under a search warrant for a suspected theft, along with local police. Videos show more than a dozen officers deployed to arrest five at the camp established to fight against the construction of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline on Wet'suwet'en territory.

Eggs and bacon were sizzling on portable stoves set up just outside the office on Government Street, where the protestors were hoping to catch hold of ministry workers during their morning commute. 

Breakfast served and made on site. Photo: Michael John Lo / Capital Daily

Community organizer and UVic student Kennedy Willier said that it is important to support Indigenous sovereignty and Indigenous-led movements, which are often the subject of C-IRG’s paramilitary-like policing. 

“We want to stand up for the environment and climate action,” said Willier. “C-IRG basically is the polar opposite of that.”

The unit is “notorious” for making violent arrests of Indigenous people from their territories, said Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) vice president Don Tom in a statement that criticized the recent arrests at Gidimt’en checkpoint. 

At the rally, Molly Murphy detailed her experiences of being arrested by C-IRG while participating in the Fairy Creek blockades. 

“Media was pushed so far away that we knew there was no independent vision on what was going to happen to us that day,” Murphy recalled. “That was the day where they just basically beat the crap out of us.”

Murphy said that her memories of what happened to her that day are blurry from trauma. But she distinctively remembers the moment where a “200-pound-plus cop” dropped a knee into the back of her friend while she was face down in gravel.

“Her face changed from being angry to just excruciating agony,” she said. Attempts at finding justice and more information regarding their treatment by police have so far been unsuccessful, due to a lack of charges from the arrests that day, Murphy said.

Molly Murphy (left) speaks about her experiences of being arrested by C-IRG officers at Fairy Creek while a crowd looks on. Photo: Michael John Lo / Capital Daily

RCMP “E” Division spokesperson Kris Clark said that they could not speak to Murphy’s specific allegations, but noted that there are known processes in place for police conduct complaints. “Any allegations of misconduct by the RCMP are taken seriously and will be investigated fully,” wrote Clark in an emailed statement.

Murphy said that her experience is minor compared to what’s happening up north in Wet'suwet'en territory.

“It’s a whole different caliber of aggression when they’re dealing with a much more Indigenous-led movement,” Murphy said. “There’s much more money involved in CGL compared to Teal Jones.”  

The Ministry of Public Safety did not answer questions from Capital Daily about whether it would consider the calls to suspend C-IRG from the national coalition or from UBCIC. 

In an emailed statement, a ministry spokesperson said that they look forward to reviewing the results of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission’s C-IRG investigation and its associated recommendations, and that it would be “inappropriate” to comment further due to the ongoing investigation. 

Results of a public inquiry into the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting released Thursday note a long history of unsuccessful reform in the RCMP from past commissions and reports.

After the tragedy in Nova Scotia, report commissioners are calling for a complete rethink of how the RCMP operates.

contact@capitaldaily.ca

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