October 20, 2013

Video: Call for solidarity with the struggle in Elsipogtog

Open letter by
Darrell Rankin

The Aboriginal peoples in Canada have never given up fighting for their full national rights and stolen lands. They continue to feel the full weight of the racist, non-Aboriginal State through police violence, incarceration, discrimination in health and education, jobs and so on.

The police act with the encouragement of the Capitalist State authorities. The State in Canada embodies the interests of the giant corporations who own Canada and its resources. The State expresses the views of the financial and industrial oligarchy, a few hundred extremely wealthy families.

For three years, the Mi'kmaw Aboriginal people in New Brunswick have asked for consultation with the government about the extraction of natural gas from their land by means of "fracking," with no result.

Two days ago, Canada's federal police, the RCMP, violently attacked a mainly Aboriginal protest against fracking. The protest was part of a large campaign against fracking in New Brunswick encompassing 28 organizations. Mayors in the region voted 16-1 in July to ask the government to impose a fracking moratorium (rogerannis.com), so this is not only an Aboriginal rights protest. The attack was an attempt to divide and conquer the anti-fracking movement, using anti-Aboriginal racism and smears.

Fortunately for people who support the Truth, the police failed to find and destroy several excellent videos (below). It is possible to write with some confidence about the event. A detail here or there may be wrong, but the overall picture is quite clear.

The Elsipogtog First Nation is located close to where fracking could take place. It is the largest First Nation in New Brunswick, with 80 per cent unemployment, a mainly young population and a severe housing crisis - up to five families sharing one home.

Since at least July, RCMP officers began to flood the area. You can see them on video (below), telling people they can't park or encamp near a community cemetery, a pretty inviolable place for any society and one the community wanted to protect. The protests continued to build, including a blockade to protect the sovereign claim of the Elsipogtog First Nation.

On October 17, at least two hundred heavily armed RCMP used extreme brutality, threats and mass arrests against about 80 peaceful protesters near Elsipogtog. The RCMP had police dogs and pointed rifles at the protesters. They beat people with truncheons and trampled women. They used pepper spray and "non-lethal" bullets against children, women and Elders. They pinned people to the ground and punched their faces while making arrests.

It is a falsehood when the RCMP claim their bullets are not lethal. People in Northern Ireland know better. The RCMP official responsible for making such a claim to the media ought to face discipline for making such a self-serving and false statement. They were lucky no one was killed or severely injured.

The RCMP first arrested people at a Warrior encampment, away from the injunction area. The RCMP officers pointed 60 rifles of various calibre at people while arresting 18 unarmed people, including a media photographer. The police allege one protester was armed and fired a gun during their assault, but this is unproven. Arresting warriors who are "protectors of the people" made it easier to arrest the other protesters.

The videos show that the violence was 100% caused by the police. No one claims there was violence before the police attack. The damaged police property - a few burnt police cars - pale in comparison to the criminal RCMP assault. The violence and mass arrest were contrived, pre-meditated.

The main purpose of the RCMP's raid was to make an unsupported allegation that collectively smeared and scandalized the entire anti-fracking movement. It is a dirty police smear to say that weapons allegedly found in the protest camp posed a danger to society, without any supporting evidence. Yet but the baseless allegation was dutifully reported widely by the bourgeois press. This is unacceptable and Stephen Harper must discipline the responsible police official immediately, or it will be clear that he agrees with the collective smear tactic.

The RCMP is obviously trying to conceal its own violence by lying about alleged dangers from the protesters, who were and are overwhelmingly peaceful. This is a dirty canard. Offensively, the RCMP is smearing Aboriginal people and environmentalists as "terrorists." For years, Harper's ministers and government officials have called environmentalists and Aboriginal rights activists "terrorists." Such lying smears are a big step towards fascism in Canada.

Very welcome and needed solidarity rallies took place across Canada and in other countries almost immediately (at least 30 on the same day, including blockades in Ontario and Quebec). The police attack needs to reverberate through all of the labour and democratic movements to strengthen solidarity for the full rights and just claims of Aboriginal peoples.

During their attack, the police acted with impunity, swaggering and ordering people around. As you can see in the videos, it is the people who are free, liberated because they have lost all fear from the brutal police and their State. One shouted "shoot me." They know they are right, and they are. ("Elsipogtog: Tensions, anger, and courage 17 October", below.)

The RCMP inflicted this violence against people who have a sovereign and legal right to be where they are. The Mi'kmaw Aboriginal people in the Atlantic provinces were not starved into signing treaties that "extinguished" land ownership, the practice followed on the Prairies (in international law, duress invalidates such concessions).

This is more than a shameful attack on protesters concerned about fracking. This is a racist, criminal attack by the Capitalist State where Authorities should be Charged. Powerful people need to face charges.

The RCMP and its boss Stephen Harper must no longer act with impunity, protected by the deep, ingrained racism of Canada's capitalist oligarchy. All of Canada's people's movements need to make this plain, and so do the opposition parties in parliament.

The 40 people arrested included most of the Elsipogtog First Nation leadership, including Chief Arren Sock.

The mass arrest is a blatant violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed to all people in Canada, an attempt to demonize peaceful protesters. It is a racist act protecting the profits of the fracking corporations operating in New Brunswick. It is a criminal, state-terrorist campaign to put profit before nature, people and science.

This concerns more than the international solidarity of non-Aboriginal workers with Aboriginal workers, because they are paid worst and hired last. This concerns the right of nations to determine their future and about the very existence of Aboriginal nations in Canada, the matter of continuing genocide through lethal discrimination and denial of rights.

If readers, like me, are appalled at the brutal police-state gang-up in Elsipogtog, please urge your union or group to condemn this attack and to express full solidarity with the democratic rights of Aboriginal nations and all people in Canada.

Canada can and will stop being a prison house of nations. How Canada resolves the national liberation struggle in our own country can be a beacon for all countries. But first, we have to ensure that the RCMP have no place at peaceful protests.

We have to build the solidarity movement. We have to fight for the full equality of Aboriginal nations. We have to fight for the rapid end to racism that weakens the unity of workers in Canada. Trade unions need to be in the front line of this struggle.

In Solidarity,
Darrell Rankin
Manitoba office, Communist Party of Canada - Manitoba

* * * * * *

Here is a link to a good story by a media photographer, arrested by the RCMP. His arrest was a far greater injury to press freedom than the justified anger behind the temporary confiscation of today's Global TV equipment, which may have been part of the uncritical reporting of the RCMP character assassination of the protesters. http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/rcmp-bring-60-drawn-guns-dogs-assault-rifles-serve/19358

Below are relevant, short videos about the situation in Elsipogtog.

The best written summary of the nation's determination and position, announced with massive, enthusiastic support on Oct. 1, 2013. Click on "show more" below the video to read the full text.

Elsipogtog Chief and Council Resolution - Eviction Notice
(length 2:40) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-ppYXodbo4

The most popular video - well done!
The last 48 hours tell us a lot about the next 2 years in Canada
(length 1:46; 80,000+ views) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mr7rPxVjZl0

The start of the police attack, which ended in extreme violence and injuries to protesters.
Elsipogtog: RCMP move in on peaceful protesters 17 October
(length 2:22; 2 ,000+ views) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAWPSv2Vfkw

During the police attack - pushing and shoving. Police bossing, kicking, pepper spraying, swaggering. Police dogs and guns. People who are liberated because they have no fear in fighting for what is right.

Elsipogtog: Tensions, anger, and courage 17 October
(length 4:38; 3,000+ views) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ipp_KC6Hexw

Much later in the day, the police retreat. The spirit of resistance by the people is unbroken.
Elsipogtog: Ending to standoff with RCMP
(length 1:35; 600+ views) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoMo398xukU

Dignity, respect for all, democracy
News Conference Elsipogtog june 18th 2013 peace keepers, about SWN
(length 2:54 - part 1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBtQjPsea7k

Elsipogtog, News Conference, part 2, about SWN and Protest Peace Keepers
(length 21:08) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2W4U4YMTJU

Elsipogtog Frack Off
(length 3:33 - 7,000+ views) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmH4irplxqw&feature=youtu.be*

Elsipogtog: Unity
(length 8:10) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DKaM7EGtjY

"This video is posted to emphasize the solidarity and unity between First Peoples, Acadian and Anglophone communities within New Brunswick, who have united in their opposition to shale gas exploration and stand for a sustainable future for future generations."

Showing the unity of all the people in support of the protest against fracking.
Elsipogtog: Chief Aaron Sock arrives to blockade site
(length 5:56, 1,000+ views) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7nsbShZXzI

A most excellent explanation of the gang-up by the police, big business politicians and the legal system against the protesters. July 2013:
Elsipogtog Female Native Amy Sock very upset that Judge ordered Warrior Chief John Levi to Jail
(length 4:57) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQld-Q-TxLM

RCMP telling people they cannot visit their community's graveyard
Elsipogtog: Undoing RCMP Harassment July 22, 2013
(length 5:17) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuyCwYsSKgE
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